Three major pool equipment manufacturers have rolled out new warranty programs designed to encourage DIY homeowners to use certified dealers to install products.
Pentair Aquatic Systems recently revised its long-standing program. Warranties on a number of Pentair’s products — including pumps, filters and heaters — will be limited to 60 days unless the equipment is installed by a certified professional. In that case, it will be protected for one to five years, depending on the product.
In the past, Pentair offered repairs or replacements for a full year or more, regardless of who performed the installation.
This marks the Sanford, N.C., manufacturer’s first significant warranty change in at least a decade, said Carlos Del Amo, vice president of global marketing. To register for the extended warranty terms, a pool owner must submit a sales receipt along with a qualified installer’s invoice.
“We just want to ensure … the proper installation of our equipment,” Del Amo said, adding that it’s not Pentair’s intention to slight online retailers. “Pentair is not anti-Internet; we’re just pro-trade,” he added.
This is the first of several steps the manufacturer is taking to further support its dealers and service agents, though Del Amo declined to elaborate on what other changes may be down the road.
“This is a big step,” he said. “Before we make any other changes, let’s ensure this one is working the way it’s intended and in the spirit it’s intended.”
Zodiac Pool Systems instituted a similar change earlier this year. So far, so good, said Troy Franzen, the Vista, Calif.-based manufacturer’s managing director.
Sales of equipment requiring professional installation are up, he said, indicating no negative impact. “This policy also helps to support our core customers: brick- and-mortar retailers, professional builders, and service pros, all of whom have been giving us positive feedback,” Franzen added. “We plan to stick with it.”
Likewise, Elizabeth, N.J.-based Hayward Pool Products is extending its standard one-year warranty to two or three years on select products when installed by a certified professional.
“We started this almost two years ago with variable-speed pumps and the response was so overwhelming, we decided to add filters, heaters and heat pumps beginning in 2014,” said Mike Massa, vice president of sales. “We don't see this new program as a reduction in warranties. Just the opposite. We are giving the dealer a tool to help them sell professional installation services.”
Manufacturers in other industries have experimented with similar warranty models. Makers of flat-screen televisions, for example, discovered early on that consumers weren’t properly mounting their new high-definition monitors to the walls. So they extended warranties by a year or so for products that are affixed professionally.
Pool and spa dealers applaud the approach.
Larry Drumb, owner of Cool Pools by Larry Inc. in Delano, Fla., has seen more than one customer blame problems on the product when it was their own installation that was at fault — an incorrectly wired pump, for example.
“As soon as they flip the switch, it’s ‘Oh, it’s bad out of the box!’ ” Drumb said. “If you were Pentair, would you want to give them another pump?”