It is certainly a deadly mistake not getting a full understanding of your pool contract and warranty. As Ross Perot once said, "The devil is in the details." Pool contracts and warranties can be deceptive if they are not read carefully and if you do not ask enough questions.
Generally speaking, most pool buyers get surprised when something goes wrong because they did not take the time to understand the details of what is included in the warranty and more importantly, what is NOT included in the warranty. Try to make sure your pump, filter and heater are from the same manufacturer. That way you have one warranty that covers your main equipment. Plus, most pool companies will not stock repair parts from multiple manufacturers. Things like discoloration in fiberglass and vinyl liner pools are usually not covered because the color of the walls have a lot to do with how you have maintained the pool and the chemical balance of the pool water. Chipped concrete or gunite are not usually warranted because that is the nature of concrete when exposed to the elements.
One word you definitely need to watch out for is "pro-rated." You need to find out if any part of your warranty is pro-rated. Pro-rated warranties only promise to credit you a percentage of the original full cost based on the amount of time that you have owned the pool.
For instance, you have owned a vinyl liner pool for five years and the warranty is for twenty years and a seam starts to tear. A pro-rated warranty would only credit you half the cost of the liner. And in some instances only half of the original cost of the liner.
When purchasing a vinyl liner pool, you need to be cautious about what's included in the warranty for the liner. Is it just the seams or is it the entire liner? Most vinyl liner pool builders stress the warranty on the seam, but the seam never goes bad. What frequently goes bad is the vinyl lining, not the structural walls or the seam.
Understand who warranties what. For instance, who warranties the pump and filter? The manufacturer or the dealer? Who do you contact to report problems? Do they have a toll-free number? Who comes out to fix the problem? In some cases, each individual manufacturer will warranty each separate piece of equipment and will have different service providers fixing the problem. There is rarely a one-stop solution for pool warranties and service.
Ask for a blank copy of the pool warranty as part of the bid process. Sit down with the builder and have them explain each component of the warranty. Ask who warranties the different parts of your pool and services each of the warranties.
Read the warranty carefully with the builder and ask questions. Ask what is not warranted and why. After you have seen a couple of warranties side by side, the questions will become much easier.