March 3rd, 2020 - Beth

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“I have been reading a few things lately about reinforcement for PVC-U profiles, and how the systems suppliers won’t stand by warranties if the windows don’t include reinforcement supplied by them. I have bought frames from my fabricator for around 5 years now and they’re very good but they are being a bit cagey about reinforcements, saying I’ve nothing to worry about, that they will give me all the guarantees that I need. Where do I stand?

HD, Northants

News travels fast HD; it appears that this issue has woken the collective awareness of the nation’s installers as quite a few of our customers have also been asking the same questions as you. However, I have left my customers in no doubt whatsoever where they stand with me.

The truth is that as far as installers that work purely in the private retail sector, nothing has changed from how things have always been. You didn’t mention who your supplier is but if you have been happy with them for several years now, that any issues you may have had have been dealt with quickly and effectively, then there is no reason why that would change. Irrespective of whether they are using reinforcement from the sysco, or steel and aluminium sections from an independent supplier.

The systems suppliers that have gone on record as saying that the use of ‘unofficial’ reinforcement, irrespective of its provenance and quality, are correct when they say it will invalidate their warranties.

However, my belief is that is largely irrelevant in as much as the likelihood of any warranty claims are extremely unlikely ever to reach the systems company, your fabricator acting each and every time to resolve what I hope are very few issues directly with you, before they become a continuing problem.

The process of manufacturing frames begins with the deliveries of profiles from the syscos. Our people do their best to examine bar lengths as they come off the trucks on stillages. However, short of unloading each bar length and giving it a forensic examination, any profile quality issues, for example tolerance or finish; or damage during transit, are inevitably found when we begin processing sections for manufacturing into frames. This is the point at which every profile receives intensive, close scrutiny and when 99% of any problems with the profile are discovered.

Discovery of a problem with the profile will then trigger closer scrutiny of the batch, all of the bar lengths received on that delivery. Any and all sub-standard product will then be reported to the systems supplier, and the issue will be sorted at that stage, way before anything becomes a window or doorframe. And therefore, before any reinforcement is ever added.

Once a window is delivered to an installer, you know the process: on hopefullu very rare occasions there may be damage to the profile or glass or hardware noticed when the frame is received; or there may be an issue with the fit of the frame during installation. At this point, a call will be made to the fabricator who, if they are worth their salt, will jump about to work with the installer to deal with the issue, irrespective of what the problem might be. Only after the problem has been dealt with to leave a happy householder with a nice warm glow, might we have a post mortem to establish the problem.

At this point it is usually related to mis-measure/bad install/manufacturing but seldom at this stage, is it ever deigned to be a problem with the profile. If it is however, and we throw the problem back at the sysco, their commitment is to the cost of the profile and seldom, if ever, will they agree to consequential loss. In other words, warranty claims are simply not worth the trouble of pursuing with the system supplier.

The upshot of all this is that for you HD, it doesn’t matter one iota if your fabricator uses non system reinforcement, as long as it is to the correct specification (ie it fits) because any failures will simply not reach the systems supplier. We, the fabricators, provide any meaningful, workable guarantees that you might ever need.

I will add one marker to this: Even though there is no way they will ever check, I do recommend that you insist upon systems supplied reinforcement for any commercial specification work and with writing to that effect. Because if a commercial customer believes, after receiving a commitment to specification, that the product is simply not compliant, then you will have a problem, however unlikely that might be.

So, why would any of us use non-sysco steel and ali sections? It simply comes down to money HD, that in order to give you the installer the very best prices whilst still expecting deliveries to be spot on, product quality to be faultless and service generally to be better than ever, we have to sharpen our collective pencils in order to give you all of that and more. And when it comes to something that simply does not make a ha’pth of difference to you in the real world, we will do it.

The fact is that the non-official reinforcement sellers seem to be thriving and I believe that you will be hard pressed to find a fabricator anywhere in Britain that does not use steels from them.

So where do you stand? Just as you have done in the years that you have been using your present fabricator HD. If the hullabaloo about all this hadn’t appeared you wouldn’t have known. Ever. And in a few weeks time it will have been forgotten.



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