Ask the contractor: A clear view of what to look for in new windows
Our questions this week are from homeowners who are building and/or remodeling and want to make informed choices about selecting and installing windows.
Q: Our windows are drafty. Our home was built in 1940 and still has the original windows. What can we do? - Bill and Louise, Prescott
A: Without actually seeing the windows, there are several possible issues that are causing the air infiltration. More than likely you have single-pane windows. If the windows do not have insulated glazing, it is possible that the draft is just the cold air coming in from the surface of the window.
Throughout the years, your home has settled, and the window installation could be off-kilter. It is possible that the caulking has fallen out and/or diminished. Is there sash weather-stripping installed? We highly recommend that you contact a professional window company/companies to survey the situation.
Replacement of the windows with dual-pane energy-efficient windows could be the solution. Approximately 25 to 35 percent of the energy used in homes is wasted because of inefficient windows and glass.
I read a very interesting fact that if all residential windows in the United States were replaced with Energy Star-qualifying models, we would save $7 billion in energy costs over the next 15 years.
Q: What is R-Value? - Rich, Chino Valley
A: R-value refers to a window's resistance to thermal transfer of heat. The higher the r-value, the better the insulation.
Q: We have a bath window that has condensation. Will a new window eliminate this problem? - Mark, Prescott Valley
A: Condensation is a result of the difference between the indoor and outside air temperature. Condensation is forming more than likely due to a break in the window seal and/or deterioration of window flashing, or an installation issue.
If the cause is due to a break in the window seal and if your windows are less than 10 years old, the window manufacturer should replace the window at no charge. More than likely, there would be installation fees.
Q: What does low-e mean in a window selection? - Craig, Prescott Valley
A: Low-e glass is manufactured by depositing a microscopically thin, transparent metal or metallic oxide layer on the glass. Low-e coatings reduce radiant heat loss and can reduce the passage of UV rays.
Q: We are in the market for new windows. What should we look for when selecting a product? - Marvin, Williamson Valley
A: First and foremost, you should work with a window company that is reliable and has a proven track record, and certified installers on their staff. It is important to obtain references. What is your goal with the new windows? Are you after total energy savings? Are you concerned about less fading of furniture and household items and blocking of UV rays? What level of low-emissivity do you want? Are you concerned about sound transmission? Are you after protection from the stray baseball or golf ball?
During the summer, direct sunlight strikes people and surfaces, creating overheating and discomfort. Windows with low solar heat gain coefficients will reduce the solar radiation coming through the glass.
Are you after convenience? Tilt-out windows make an easy cleaning option. If you are concerned about dust control, there are windows on the market that offer triple weather stripping. Some windows have interlocking meeting rails that remove the direct air path where most of the dust penetrates the window. There are windows that have baffled and offset weep slots, which create a one-way path for water to drain out of the window seal without
allowing air to flow back in. There are different types of window architecture, including single-hung, double-hung, casement windows and picture windows, and different frame face widths and frame depths.
Window installation is a science. If you put the highest-rated window in your home and still feel cold next to the frame, then the installation instructions were not followed correctly.