A commonly asked question once a project is completed is what alterations can be made to the siding and trim and how these alterations can affect the product warranties and long term performance.
The first thing that one needs to understand is that the new siding is just one part of a complete wall system. The wall system is installed to perform many functions to ensure the long term performance and durability of the structure on which it is installed. These functions include but are not limited to, weatherization, durability, strength and beauty.
The primary function of the exterior wall system is to keep the outside elements, rain, heat, wind and cold out. In order to accomplish this function, there are many aspects of the exterior wall system working together. The main parts are framing, insulation, sheeting, flashing, building paper, windows, doors, exterior siding, trim, caulking (sealants) and a coating (painting). These items work together to ensure that the system as a whole perform as designed. If any one of these parts are not installed and maintained correctly or are improperly altered after the system is completed, the entire system will not perform as designed. Two alterations that are commonly performed on an existing wall are adding additional attachments and penetrations.
Penetrations are the weakest link to the wall system but all of them cannot be avoided, therefore when designing as wall system, considerable preparation and attention is given to how penetrations are to be treated. These include the proper use of flashing, building paper and sealants that are installed as the wall system is built. These items are installed in a certain order as the wall is constructed that commonly cannot be replicated once the wall is completed. Therefore, any penetration made to a wall system after the wall is completed, will weaken the entire system and normally void any existing warranties.
Attachments to the siding should be discouraged and will result in voiding the exterior siding warranty because first, they normally result in a penetration of the wall system and secondly, add unintended weight to the existing siding. When engineering a wall system, the weight of the exterior siding material is carefully figured into the calculations when considering the framing of the wall and the type, quantity, and pattern of fasteners that are to be used in the wall system. Unless the engineers know exactly what the attachment to the wall will be, there is no way he or she can accurately calculate for the effect of the attachment. Therefore even though the attachment may not penetrate the wall system, its effect to the wall system is an unknown and therefore will void the siding warranty.
The following is a common disclaimer to an exterior siding warranty.
“This warranty does not cover any other damages, including but not limited to, normal weathering, oxidation, acts of god, fire, flood, wind, windblown objects, chemical pollutants, structural defects, negligent maintenance, abuse, physical alterations or harmful cleaning compounds are applied to the exterior siding by any persons not specifically authorized by ABC. These alterations include but are not limited to: 1. attaching any object to the siding via any method, i.e. nail, screw, bolt, and/or adhesive, 2. creating a penetration through the siding, 3. removing from or adding to any or all of the exterior siding installed originally by ABC.”
The thing to remember when looking at a structure is that it is a working system not a solid fixed object. Alterations to any part of the system will have ripple effects throughout the entire structure that may not be immediately apparent but may have great and usually adverse and costly outcomes in the future.
Manufacturers and contractors are expected to and normally provide warranties for their respective products and services. However, they can only warranty what they can predict. That is the reason for the limitations to the warranties.
When choosing a window for either a new construction project or for replacing your old inefficient windows picking the best glass package is the last and most important item you will put in the window. Due to the fact that your glass usually makes up to 90% of your window, the glass is very important.
Glass technology has advanced in leaps and bounds from the original single pane clear glass of past generations. As energy efficiency has become more and more important windows have strived to come up with technology to continue to improve. Although the window space is still the least energy efficient space in a wall it is closing the gap quickly.
What we are trying to control in order to make our homes more energy efficient is the way heat is transferred. There are considered to be three means of heat transfer. Conduction is heat transfer through a material. Convection is heat transfer between a fluid (like air) and a solid surface (like a piece of glass). Radiation is perhaps the hardest concept to grasp. All things continually release radiation
(proportionately to the fourth power of their temperature). The warmer the object, the more radiation
released. Therefore, a warm object exchanging radiation with a cold object will give off more heat than
the cold object gives back, suffering a net heat loss.
There are common terms that one must become familiar with in order to understand the language of windows.
1. IG unit. Because almost all new windows are no longer made with a single pane of glass, the glass section of the window is made up of multiple layers of glass usually 2 or double pane glass or 3, triple pane glass. The glass is treated with some type of LoE coating to improve its efficiency, the glass pieces are separated by some material called a spacer bar. Usually some sort of Inert gas is injected into the air space between the two or three pieces of glass then this is all held together by a substance call polyisobutylene (PIB). The whole package put together is called an Insulated Glass Unit or IG Unit.
2. LoE coating. In order to make glass more energy efficient because we all know that glass will naturally accentuate the power of the sun light to heat, the industry has come up with coatings to slow down this process. The coatings strive to slow down the absorption or reflect off the band of light that causes materials within a building to absorb the sun’s energy and radiate it out as heat. These coatings are commonly referred to as LoE coatings which are short for Low Emission. As these coatings have progressed and improved over the years, each incremental improvement is referred by the succession of numbers. In other words, the first LoE coating was referred to genericly as just LoE the next development was then referred to as LoE2 and the most recent is referred to as LoE3. Of course every window manufacturer has a special name for these coatings to try and differentiate themselves but the performance is usually the same.
3. Spacer. All IG units have a spacer material the keeps the panes of glass apart. What this spacer is made of can make a difference in the performance of the window. The spacers are filled with or contain desiccant to remove moisture trapped in the space between the panes of glass.
4. BTU. British Thermal Unit. It is the amount of heat required to raise 1 pound of water 10F.
The National Fenestration Ratings Council Tests and labels all glass products used in buildings for windows, doors and skylights. They attach to all of these products a sticker or label listing the manufacturer and the following ratings, U-Factor, solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC), visible light transmittance (VLT) and air leakage. This system makes judging the different windows and coatings easy.
The U-Factor is a measurement of how well a product prevents heat from escaping or entering the building. The lower the U-Value, the greater a window’s resistance to heat flow and the better its insulating value. Most products rate between .20 to 1.20 with .20 being very good and 1.20 not efficient at all. A low U-factor will slow down the amount of heat that enters the building in the summer and it will slow down the amount of heat that will exit in the winter.
As stated above the U factor is a measurement of how heat is transferred through a window or door. In the US., the typical units are BTU/hr*Ft2*0F. As an example, if you had a 2×4 foot window with a U-Factor of 0.3 in your house when the outside air temperature was 00F and the inside air temperature is 700F, the heat loss could be found:
0.3(BTU/(hr*ft2*0F)*(2*4)ft2*(700F-00F)=168 BTU per hour
In the window and door industry U-Factors are used instead of R-Values because R-values do not accurately reflect the interaction with solar radiation and airflow around the window. If the following factors were negligible than R-Values and U-Factors would be reciprocal but instead they are inverse. One should always use U-Factors from the NFRC to judge windows. As LoE coating numbers go up the better the U-factor will be.
Do not be fooled by someone quoting you a U-Value instead of a U-Factor. U-Values are figured by just testing the center of the glass not the window as a whole which takes into account the frame and spacer. This figure can be very deceptive in judging the overall performance of the window or door.
Solar Heat Gain (SHGC):
The Solar Heat gain Coefficient measures how well a window or door blocks radiant heat gain. Technically it is “the fraction of incidental solar radiation admitted through a window and subsequently released inward”. The lower the number the less heat is transmitted. In other words the sun radiates heat at 11,0000F, different calculation techniques are needed to account for the heating effect to items on earth. The solar heat gain coefficient is defined for this purpose with windows and doors. When sunlight hits a window or door, some of it goes right through the glass, some is reflected back and some is absorbed and radiated to the inside of the home. The SHGC represents the fractional amount of the solar energy that ends up warming the house through the window or door.
A lower SGHC is better in most sections of the US. To lower energy costs, most homeowners want to block as much of the solar heat gain as possible, so unless you live in a very cold climate, the lower The SGHC the better. As with U-Factors the SHGC will improve with the higher number LoE coating you choose.
Visible Light Transmission (VLT):
Visible Light Transmission (VLT) is the fraction of visible light that comes through the product, so the higher the VLT the more light that will pass through the window. This value takes into account the whole system which includes the glass and the frame so a wood, vinyl or composite frame window will have a lower number than a metal frame window due to the fact a metal frame is thinner. In our effort to reduce the amount of heat that is transferred through the window to lower the U-factor and the SGHC we have lowered the amount of light that passes through the window. Windows are designed to let light into a structure so we are constantly trying to get as much energy efficiency as possible while at the same time allowing as much visible light through as possible. This is one of the tradeoffs that need to be considered when choosing the glass package.
By just going from a single pane of glass to a double pane you lose VLT. Also as each LoE evolution has come about we have been losing VLT percentage. As with cost, one must decided at what point the diminishing light will offset the lower energy bills.
Air Infiltration (AI):
Air infiltration is the measurement of the equivalent cubic feet of air that can pass through a square foot of window area. The test window is installed on a large wall. On one side, a vacuum is of 75 pascals (1.57 psf) is applied. This corresponds to approximately a 25 mph wind blowing perpendicularly to the window. Flow meters measure the rate of air leakage. This is divided by the total window area to get a reading (in the U.S) in cfm/ft2 to the nearest tenth (i.e., a test value of 0.17 would be given a rating of 0.2). The best possible rating by the NFRC is 0.1, as they will not round to 0. A low Air infiltration rating is critical in the overall performance of the window. Even with a value of .3 disturbing drafts may be felt. These drafts are often the very reason a customer is replacing the window. Air infiltration not only makes the window less efficient it allows unwanted dust and dirt and contaminants to enter the home. The problem is that this rating is optional for manufacturers.
The glass does not affect the AI rating. This rating is directly affected by frame material and design, single weather stripping as compared to double or triple, Compression seals as opposed to wool. Vinyl Frames with metal inserts or vinyl frames without. As with all aspects of your new windows you have to compare.
Condensation Resistance (CR):
Condensation Resistance is expressed as a number between 1 and 100 and rates the ability of the product to resist the formation of condensation on the interior surface of the window or door. The higher the number is the better the ability to resist condensation. This factor is influenced by the type of frame, spacer, and AI rating. Values around 50 are pretty good and 60 or better are great. The amount of condensation that may develop on the inside surface of the glass is a direct result of the humidity level in the home. The fact is, if the humidity levels are high enough, condensation can form on any window. This rating is also not required by NFRC.
The original spacers were made of metal for durability. However metal spacers conduct heat undermining the IGs ability to reduce heat flow. It also encourages the development of condensation around the edges of the IG unit. To improve on this deficiency, manufactures have developed metal spacers with thermal breaks or structural foam.
Warm edge technology refers to a spacer that is less conductive than a conventional metal spacer. There are 3 major types of warm edge spacers.
Swiggle or Duraseal Spacers:
This spacer was first introduced in 1979. It offered the dramatic difference to the standard aluminum box spacer. By containing its own spacer, sealant and desiccant in one it allowed the manufacture to use on product to perform the job of several conventional components. This spacer has been in use longer than any other warm edge technology.
Intercept is a warm edge spacer featuring a unique, one piece, tin plated or stainless steel, u-channel design. The design creates an effective thermal barrier to help reduce conducted heat loss through the window.
All Super Spacer warm edge products are manufactured with all foam no metal technology. Super spacer is a true dual seal warm edge spacer system that uses high performance acrylic adhesive for its structural seal backed by a moisture vapor seal. Unlike metal spacers Super Spacer is non-conductive thus blocking heat flow through the window. Because it has a double seal and moves with the glass it greatly reduces seal failures in the IG unit. The closed cell polymer foam in Super spacer transmits very little sound compared to conventional metal spacers.
Inert or Nobel Gas:
All manufacturers offer a gas add on to their glass packages. The two most common are Argon and Krypton. Argon and Krypton are in the same family Nobel Gases. Argon’s Atomic Number is 18 and Krypton is 36. They are inert and safe gases that occur naturally in our atmosphere. They are invisible and heavier than air, thus they are denser than normal air. If used in a window, these gases are added between the 2 panes of glass as they are manufactured into their sealed glass units. Once these gases are installed into a window, they are denser than regular air. Adding these gasses will generally improve the U-Factor of an insulated window by 1%-2%.The overall effectiveness of Argon and Krypton works best in extremely cold climates. As a matter of fact, most of the benchmarks for these gases were done at zero degrees. The truth is, Argon & Krypton’s performance is best utilized in very cold climates.
The cost of Argon gas is relatively low, so adding it does not significantly increase the price and if a consumer is getting any of the newer LoE coatings the Argon gas is part of the overall package.
When choosing windows for a home there are several things to consider, location, size, frame material, glass package and operation or style. In this section we are going to concentrate on the operation of style of the window.
Windows come in the following styles, Picture or fixed (O), Single hung (SH), Double hung (DH), Horizontal sliders (XO, OX, XX, XOX), Casement (X, O, XO, OX, XOX), Bay windows, Bow Windows, Garden windows, and Sky lights.
Picture windows or fixed windows do not open. They offer the largest unobstructed view with the least amount of frame. They offer no ventilation. You can get this style of window in a standard frame and a casement frame. Also know as transom windows when they are located above another window or a door. These windows do not come with a screen. Special shaped windows such as trapezoids, triangles, octagons and circles are all picture windows.
A single hung window is one that has two sashes and operates vertically with the upper sash being fixed and the lower sash sliding up and down. Some manufactures allow the lower sash to tilt in for easer cleaning. This type of window is usually installed in an opening that is taller than it is wide. This window comes with a screen that only covers the lower sash or what is known as a “half screen”.
A double hung window is one that has two sashes and operates vertically. Both the top and the lower sashes slide up and down. Most manufacturers allow the top and the lower sash to tilt in for easier cleaning. This type of window is usually installed in an opening that is taller than it is wide. These windows usually come with a screen that cover both the top and bottom sashes known as a “full screen” but can be ordered with a half screen if desired.
A horizontal slider is a window that has either 2 or three sashes and operates horizontally. These window are referred to using a combination of “X”s an “O”s. An X refers to a sash on the window that slides side to side. An O refers to a sash that remains fixed. Therefore an XO window is one where the left sash will slide to the right when operated and the right sash stays fixed. An XOX denotes a window where the two outside sashes slide to the middle and the middle sash remains fixed. An XX window will allow both the right and left sashes to operate. These windows should be installed in openings that are wider than tall. The XO or OX windows come with half screens. The XOX windows come with two half screens. The XX window would come normally with a full screen but it can be ordered with a half screen. This works well for a pass through window in a kitchen.
A casement window, also known as a crank out window is a window that the moving sash swings out using a crank style handle. It can come in the following combinations of operation, X, XO, OX, XX, XOX, and O. You can also get this type window in an awning configuration. The frames on this type of window are much thicker than a standard window of the same frame material. On this window type the screens are mounted on the interior of the frame. Care should be made in making sure the window does not open into a traffic area, sidewalk or patio. This window can be a good option to change and existing SH or DH in a bedroom that does not meet new egress requirements.
A bay window is a window that projects away from the main wall. A bay consists of three windows with the outside two openable and the middle window being fixed. The two outside windows are either DH, SH or X Casement. The angles most commonly used on the inside corners are 90, 135 and 150 degrees depending on the size of the window and how far one wants the window to protrude from the wall. A bay window can be installed with its own roof or can be tied into the existing soffit. A bay window can give a room the illusion of being larger and can increase the flow of light into a room.
A bow window is similar to a bay in that it protrudes out from the main wall but usually consist of more than three attached windows. Bow windows form more of a curved look than a bay window. Bow windows are always made with a combination of Casement windows either X or fixed. Bow windows can also be installed with their own roof or can be tied into the existing soffit. A bow window can also give a room the illusion of more space and will let in more light than a standard flat windows of the same combination of windows.
Garden windows or Greenhouse windows are usually found in a kitchen. They like bays and bow windows protrude out from the wall. The difference between a Garden or Greenhouse window and a bay or Bow is 1. A garden or greenhouse window always has 90 degree corners and 2. A garden or greenhouse window has a glass roof. Also most Garden or Greenhouse windows also have a shelf installed in them.
A skylight is a window that is cut into a roof of a home. They are usually fixed. You can get some models that will open either by electric or manual mean. They allow additional light to a space. Most skylights are not made of glass due to the fact they are subject to object impact like hail. They are usually made from a high impact plastic material.
A window consist of two major components the frame and the glass. There are several different materials designed for residential use in the frame of a window, metal, wood, vinyl (PVC), composite and fiberglass. All of these materials have positives and negatives. Choosing the one that is right for your application will depend on several factors. Those factors commonly are aesthetics, color, frame thickness, glass space, energy efficiency, style of operation, type of installation and price. All windows can be installed in a new construction type of install but only a few have a frame design that will allow for a retro fit type application.
Wood frame windows are made from different types of lumber such as pine or western red cedar to name a few. They have the best aesthetic appeal and can be stained or painted. A wood window frame is well insulated but they will expand and contract according to the weather and require a lot of maintenance to keep on good condition. They work well in a new construction setting but require considerable construction to use as a replacement option. The number of wood manufacturers in any market is very limited and the price range is in the high to very high range.
Metal frame windows come in two main types, steel or aluminum. Metal frame windows have the thinnest frame allowing for the most glass space. They are very secure and require very little maintenance. Unless the metal window is designed with a thermal break which increases the price they are very poor insulators. Metal windows work well in a new construction option but will require considerable construction to use as a replacement option. Due to lack of demand the choice of manufacturers is limited. The cost is low without a thermal break and moderate to high with the thermal break added.
Vinyl (PVC) frame windows are made from uPVC (unplasticised polyvinyl chloride). This is a rigid form of PVC that is ideal for use as a window frame. It is treated with UV stabilizers so that the sun will not damage or fade the frame. PVC does not conduct heat or cold and several dead air spaces have been engineered into the frame to make it an excellent insulator. They are incredible low maintenance and are commonly available in white and almond but can now be purchased in almost any color. The frame dimensions are similar to wood. PVC is by far the most common frame material thus the number of manufactures to choose from is large. This frame type comes in a new construction style and one specifically designed for a replacement option eliminating the need for additional construction. The cost is low to moderate range.
Fiberglass window frames are strong and durable. They do not expand and contract with weather. They are available in a wide assortment of colors. Corners are mechanically put together so they have a poor air infiltration rating. They are not available in all styles. Frame dimensions are similar to wood. They are fine for a new construction application but as with wood and metal they require considerable additional construction than a vinyl window in a retro fit or replacement application. Very few manufacture choices available. The cost is in the very high range.
New material that is still relatively new to the window market. These frames are a mix of wood and resins. The frame is very energy efficient. These frame look like wood but are resistant to many of the problems that plague wood products. Composite windows can be painted like wood. As with wood frame windows they are designed for a new construction application not a retro fit. The cost is in the very high range.
Once you have decided on a frame material you need to decide how you wish the window to operate and what type of glass package you want.
At one time there was only one way to install a window and that is what is now referred to as a “New Construction” method of installation. This is how your window was installed when your home was originally built. This is the only type of installation you will find in any building code book. It involves installing flashing below 3 sides of the window, nailing the window through an attached nail fin to either the stud or wall sheeting, then installing a flashing piece on the top of the window and then installing the building paper and siding over that. If a homeowner was going to build from the ground up or was going to completely remove all the existing siding on an existing wall and re-flash, paper and reside then this method would still be the best method for the install. However in most cases where a homeowner wants to just replace the existing old inefficient aluminum or steel frame windows with new energy efficient vinyl frame duel or triple glazed coated windows, they do not, nor can they afford to also reside the home.
For this reason the window manufacturers have developed what are commonly referred to as “Retrofit Windows”. These windows are specifically designed to be installed with a “Frame Over” method. This method will not alter or damage your homes existing vapor barrier and flashing that was installed when the house was originally built and at the same time does not requiring the homeowner to incur the costs of new siding, painting and/or interior sheetrock. This method involves removing all the windows sashes from the old frame, sliding the new windows into the old frame, sealing to the old frame with high grade polyurethane on the outside, filling the gap on the inside with insulation and finally covering the inside gap with a matching vinyl trim and paintable caulk to completely encapsulate the old window frame.
Unfortunately, there are times when neither of these methods will work. The home owner does not want to remove all of the existing siding and use a new construction window and the existing windows need to be enlarged slightly to meet current egress codes. The homeowner also want all of their new windows to match on the outside to give their home a nice finish. In this instance Vinyl Designs Inc. has developed a method that involves completely removing the existing window frame from behind the existing window flashing, building paper and siding. Then we install a metal flashing that is form fit at the job site to fit exactly to the dimensions of the existing wall and is installed behind the existing window flashing and building paper and encapsulates the existing siding to replace the old window fin and enable the new retro fit window to be sealed to the new flashing. This method restores the same system that was created by the old windows frame that was removed thus it directs any water that may penetrate the siding above or beside the window opening will be channeled to the outside of the home.
These methods are the ones that we have found work, unfortunately due to confusion, improper training and experience, lack of direction from the manufacturers and the building code agencies many window companies are using the wrong methods when installing windows. Below is an example of an incorrect method that we commonly see.
Using the “New Construction” installation method on an existing home without completely removing the siding and installing new flashing and new paper and re-siding the wall. This method is usually used by installers that are not familiar with the retrofit window. They typically are contractors that have build homes from the ground up or room additions. They normally will only have a “B” license and not the necessary C17 (Glazers Specialty). Since the new construction area of the business has dried up lately, many have gravitated to the window replacement sector. What they will do is remove or cut back the existing siding (either wood or stucco) 4” to 6” around the existing window, damaging the existing building paper and flashing and expose the old windows nailing fin. They will remove the old windows and the old flashing and make an attempt to flash the new “New Construction” type window they are familiar. The problem lies in the fact that there is no way that they can get the new flashing up under the old building paper or install new building paper to properly water proof this window. Those of us that have been replacing windows in existing homes for the past 20+ years have seen and repaired the expensive results of this mistake. You as the homeowner don’t know until it is too late that the vapor barrier has been compromised because they will install the old siding or re stucco right over the damage. Even if you get a building permit, an inspector will not know because he will not see it until after the siding has been replaced. Plus most inspectors come from the new construction side of the industry not the remodeling side. Your new window will look nice but water will get in slowly and over time you will have to deal with rot and mold. Not a good thing.
Though the “Frame Over” method will reduce the glass space, when you compare this to the thousands of dollars of damage that a leaking windows will cause, this small draw back fades in comparison. When the “Frame Over” method cannot be used it is important that shedding of the water that can get behind the existing siding is dealt with to ensure that it is not directed into the wall cavity or into the home. All water must be shed to the outside of the home.
These facts make it clear that choosing the wrong contractor to replace your windows can be a costly mistake. I am talking about costs that will be much greater than the price of the new windows. You as a homeowner need to make an educated decision not one based solely on the initial price of the window project. You need to make sure you hire a contractor that has the experience, knowledge and expertise of all the options that are available and which one will best serve your needs. When looking at a specific skill like retro windows, you need to choose a company that specializes in this area and not a jack of all trades. If you need surgery you don’t go to a general practitioner you go to a surgeon. When you need new windows don’t go to a contractor that only has a “B” general contractor’s license make sure they have the necessary C17.
Vinyl Designs is pleased to announce the EGIA Rebate program has been extended to August 15th, 2012. EGIA has also made some changes to the program as follows:
This program is only available in California.
It’s that time of year again. Vinyl Designs, Inc. will have a booth at the California State Fair! We are in spot 529 in building D. Come stop by to see the latest products and innovation in home exterior upgrades and enter our drawing for a chance to win a new Vinyl Sliding Glass door. You may also visit our showroom to enter the drawing. No Purchase Necessary.
Although the housing market is improving slightly, numbers are still far from good and the chance this will change in the next year is very slim. Most homeowners are still trending toward improving their existing home rather than “improving by moving” as was done in the past. Consumers are gaining confidence as is reflected in the Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index which rose to its highest level since April of 2008 but they are still very familiar with how fragile the home market can be and are choosing to stay put. That being said, what improvements are they looking make?
There are 4 areas that are getting the most attention: curb appeal, lower maintenance, lower energy usage, and going green.
With most homeowners realizing that they will be staying in their existing home for a very long time and not just the 3 to 5 years they may have thought when they originally purchased the home, they have become more conscious of how it looks every day when they pull in the driveway. Thus, improvements like landscaping, roofing, siding, painting and windows are high on their list. Although these items are not as sexy as a new kitchen or bathroom they can make a big difference to the appearance of the home in a very short time and have always proven to add immediate value to the home even in a down market.
Similar to the general population, current homeowners are getting older and busier. The baby boomers are either retired, getting ready for retirement or wished they were retired. The younger ones usually need both husband and wife working and sometimes with more than one job. The amount of time left to putter around the house doing household maintenance has shrunk drastically. Also, no matter how charming we contractors think we are, if most people had their way, they would love to never have to call us again. Therefore, home owners are looking for ways to lower or even eliminate some of the items on their homes that require maintenance. Improvements they find that fill this need are permanent siding such as vinyl or fiber cement, vinyl fencing, composite decking, aluminum patio covers, tile roofing, artificial grass, and permanent exterior coatings. All of these products are replacing areas of the home that traditionally were accomplished with a wood product. Wood is a beautiful material but it requires constant costly painting, repair and replacement that most homeowners simply do not have the time, expertise or desire to accomplish.
Even if your house is free and clear, you still have to pay your property taxes and your energy bills. There are some states that have enacted laws to restrict how high your property taxes can go but there is nothing to stop the constant rise in energy costs. There is no expert on the planet that is predicting energy costs to go down in the long term. Therefore, the only thing a homeowner can do to protect themselves from this uncertainty, is make their home more energy efficient. The home improvement industry has been well aware of this trend and has developed many products to help homeowners with this issue. Most of these products have proven to be great investments because lowering energy usage wil lower the homeowner’s monthly bills thus paying for themselves. The improvements that fall into this category are Solar products such as solar water heating and solar electrical generation, energy efficient windows, Insulation, Insulated vinyl siding, efficient lighting (LED), tankless water heaters, heat reflective exterior coating, energy efficient heating and air systems with proper duck work, and caulking and sealing of the homes envelope. Every homeowner knows that they need these products but what holds most back is the lack of knowledge about what is available and just how efficient the new products are. Most local power companies now offer incentives for homeowners to make their homes more energy efficient. They range from home energy audits to rebates and low financing packages.
For a long time most people including home improvement contractors, looked at “Going Green” as nothing more than a slogan. That time has passed, and the “Green” movement is here to stay. Many States along with the Federal Government have passed new regulations that have built in requirements that will get more restrictive as time goes on to make it mandatory for building products to become “Green”. A “Green” product is one that is sustainable, recyclable, low maintenance, energy efficient in manufacturing, distribution and operation, in other words, a small carbon footprint. For most homeowners, building a complete “Green” home is not practical or even possible. They have to take their existing structure and make it as “Green” as they can with the resources they have. Some of the improvements that almost any homeowner can make are: energy efficient lighting, caulking and sealing leaks in the homes envelope, proper insulation, tankless water heater, energy efficient windows and doors, efficient heating and air systems with proper duct work, new insulated sidings, and heat reflective permanent exterior coatings. As with the section on “Energy Efficiency”, most local power companies are currently offering incentives to homeowners to complete these types of improvements.
These 4 trends are all tied together and the products that fill the needs also overlap. The opportunities are there for both the home improvement contractor and the homeowner. Right now, a homeowner can take advantage of great values due the fact that most contractors are just coming out of one of the worst markets they have seen in a long time but that will not last. As the market improves, demand will increase as will prices. This makes this a great time for a homeowner to take advantage of lower prices and power company incentives for many of these improvements. For the contractor, as pointed out above the need is growing and as the economy improves the ability for homeowner to obtain these improvements will increase.
Stephen Kuhlke, President, Vinyl Designs Inc.
Recently, I wrote about the cause of condensation on the interior of your windows. This post we will focus on condensation on the exterior of your windows.
As with condensation on the inside surface, most homeowners immediately blame the windows for condensation on the outside glass. They believe that the windows must be failing in some way for this condition to occur. However, they are wrong. Condensation will occur on the outside because the window is performing exactly as designed.
Condensation of water on any surface is a direct result of the air falling below the dew point temperature. Warm air will hold more moisture than cold air. That is why the dew forms on your front lawn at night and evaporates off as the day warms up. The air got so cold that the air could longer hold the same level of moisture and it ends up on the lawn. During the early morning or the evening hours along the coast, of Northern California fog develops, due to this phenomenon. Old single pane windows did nothing to keep the warm air a home owner pays to have on the inside of the home from passing right through the sheet of glass warming up the outer surface. With the heat coming through a single pane window, the area directly around the glass on the outside of the home can hold more moisture and stay above the dew point so no condensation forms on the glass. New dual-pane insulated glass units have become the “norm” in the industry and create a barrier that drastically reduces the ability for warmth to travel out of the home. With the dual-pane unit in place, the outside glass is not heated from inside the home causing the air directly around the outside glass to stay cold, below the dew point, allowing condensation to form. As with the fog, as the outside temperatures increase, the condensation on the glass will reduce and eventually disappear.
Unlike interior condensation, exterior condensation will not cause any harm to the windows or the home itself. All it does is reduce the visibility through the windows for a short period of time. The fact that this occurs at all, is a testament to the ability of the new window to reduce your homes energy consumption. After all, saving energy is the main goal.
The EGIA promotion is really picking up steam during these summer months! It has been extended to 6/15/2012! **EGIA promotion only valid in California.