Covering Your Bases The Importance of Knowing Your Warranties

Warranties for products are simple to understand, most people might think. You go to the store, buy a computer or a DVD player or a TV, or even a larger appliance like a refrigerator, and you get a piece of paper describing a one-year or two-year warranty, and what’s covered. Sometimes, for some extra money, you can get an extended warranty for another year or so.

But what if the item in question is not a personal appliance, but a huge building component that you’re purchasing in large numbers from a contractor? What if you’re purchasing, for your co-op or condo, a roof tank, pumps, a new roof, a new series of convectors for a central HVAC system, or mechanical parts for an elevator?

Surely, the technology in items like these is more complex than your laptop. Also, in addition to the manufacturer, there is usually now a third party—the contractor. Still, a warranty must be given. How do warranties work for such large items, and what do you, as a co-op or condo board member, committee member or manager, need to know?

A Matter of Scale

Asher Land, office manager of Edison Parker & Associates Inc., a Brooklyn company that provides heat pumps, motors, blowers, cooling fans/towers and other HVAC equipment to buildings, says one difference is that for small, personal items like that aforementioned laptop, companies tend to replace the whole item if it’s faulty. For a large building component, however, the company typically just replaces the malfunctioning part or parts, if it’s in the warranty period, he says.

Richard Blaser, president of Atlas Welding & Boiler Repair Inc. in New Rochelle, concurs. “A new blu-ray player may come with a 30-day unconditional warranty, and if anything goes wrong, they will probably replace the unit rather than repair it. It is highly unlikely that a boiler or burner would be replaced under warranty—it would be repaired,” he says.

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