When a builder orders windows for a home, he is looking at the bottom line. Which from a legal standpoint means getting through the Warranty period. Good windows come with a price and require some knowledge of product performance. Since that company is on a tight production schedule and there are so many balls in the air, the original windows on a home are likely to be lower grade materials.
They may look great when new, but they’re a ticking time bomb and within a short time you’re going to start having problems.
Most will use whatever is available at the local ABC Builder supply which may have a 5 year warranty on fogging of the glass units. But, it may be leaking air for some reason, have spring bars break and won’t stay open, and is probably drafty in the Winter and the heat blazes through it in the Summer.
Is the glass not as clear as it used to be? Is there water between the glass that can’t be cleaned? This is “seal failure” and is common with cheap new construction windows.
And, that’s if they’re installed correctly. Likely, it wasn’t a window installer, but the framer who was trying to close up the area for security purposes. They don’t weather proof it. They don’t square it or level it, but just pop it in and put a few screws in the flange. In addition, no one is going around an putting foam insulation around the windows. The framer is followed by the sheetrocker and the guy who does the moulding and sill and it’s skipped. The windows often aren’t caulked and flashed properly on the outside so you can actually feel air coming in. Drafty windows are in the Top 5 complaints in Texas in new homes.
These are the ones you need to rip out of your house because it costs more to keep them. They’re 4 X less energy efficient than a modern window– and ones from before 2009 likely have not heat reflective glass what-so-ever which means the monthly cost is massive and may be appropriate on the garage, or the barn.
There are many options to choose from for replacement windows and over 40 different manufacturers with a range of quality. Seek a company that has done their research homework and can consult with you to find the best answer for your home and your budget.
In today’s market, there is a true shortage of quality installers with few of the new generation wanting to understudy and thoroughly learn their craft. The installers are the front line of any quality company and can make just as much difference as the actual window unit.
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Billy Idol is a Chicken Fried Steak
Or, What do all those Replacement Window Stats Mean?
Stats, Technical Jargon, TLA’s (Three Letter Acronyms…LOL), they can be a great help in evaluating and comparing products.
But, intimidating, too.
Especially when it is an expensive one time purchase and none of the numbers mean ANYTHING to you.
In college at Texas A&M, I worked weekends and nights as a cook in a busy Fajita joint called Padre Cafe.
The kitchen was hot and smoky from grilling meat and caramelized onions and, of course, my first day was on Game Day!!! 6 hours and over 1000 meals to crank through.
The lead cook, who looked like a wiry Charles Manson, was pacing the blistering hot line like a caged tiger with a 10 inch very sharp knife held in a greasy death grip waiting for the rush to start.
The tape player railed at top volume Heavy Metal music or the Ramones.
As the new guy, I was put on fryer.
“Manson-Metal-Dude” looks over at me, while he’s flipping the tape in the player, and says, “Billy Idol’s a Chicken Fried Steak”, sneers, jams his knife up and down in an “Air Guitar” motion and pushes “Play” so I’m left pondering what the hell that means.
I figure it out.
Every time he pulled a new ticket, if he looked in my direction, and made that same knife wielding Billy Idol Sneering Air Guitar motion…. I was supposed to make a Chicken Fried Steak.
Billy Idol Impersonation = Make Chicken Fried Steak!!!
Communication at its best. We rocked that night, and I smelled like beef fajitas that entire semester ( I quickly got moved to grill).
So, let’s see if we can figure out those mysterious Replacement Window Stats like “U-Factor”, “SHGC”’s, etc. mean.
First, U-Factor. You may be more familiar with a measurement of insulation called the R-Factor. It’s related. The U-Factor is the inverse of the R-Factor. That is, 1/R, or One divided by the R-Factor.
R-Factor measures conductive heat loss and is technically:
(Temp Difference x Area x Time)/Heat Loss.
The larger the number, the better, walls are usually 13-23.
But, those measurements are in a lab, only measure for conductive heat, and don’t account for radiative heat that goes right through fiberglass, and on a windy 20 MPH day, a leaky wall performs no better than just the studs.
In Texas for windows, in Climate Zone 2, we look for windows with a U-Factor of .20 or less, and Infiltration (Draftiness) of less than .3 cu ft.
It’s a lot of info.
The good news?
You don’t have to know it! We take care of that for you.
We source the best performing “Bang for your buck” products for you.
With 10,000 followers, decades of experience, and the best installers in the market.
Relax. Have us set you up, and enjoy some good meals with the money we can save you.
We’ll cover Infiltration, Solar Heat Gain Coefficient in another post.
Oh, and by the way, I was telling this story to Bob Laws, a partner in a $4M restaurant renovation in Houston who had made his money doing movie catering.
He had catered the movie “The Doors” about Jim Morrison with Val Kilmer, Meg Ryan, Billy Idol, etc directed by Oliver Stone. He had two catering trucks get stuck in the sand as Oliver Stone kept driving in the desert looking for the perfect light.
He thought the story was funny because, on top of everything, Billy Idol was a vegetarian.
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Replacing Builder Grade windows with upgraded Energy Star High Performance Windows is one of the best investments you can make to your home because inefficient windows are the largest energy wasters in homes in every Climate Zones. But, which ones are right? What do you need to know?
I’m a Native Texan and I wouldn’t dream of living in a house without Air Conditioning. But, for 6 years I lived in Ohio where there may be snow 5-6 months of the year. High temperatures and A/C don’t have the emphasis that they do here.
Different Climate Zones require different solutions. A Triple Pane window here in Texas would only save the average home about $50/year. We want to keep the heat out, not in. Therefore, we look for a window with low SHGC( or Solar Heat Gain Coefficients), and U-Factors with Low Infiltration (air flow through a closed window– draftiness) to ensure comfort and low utility bills.
Did you know that old builder grade windows are wasting up to 40% of your hard earned utility bill money? It’s going right out the windows.
The “Go-to” answer in the industry is to replace those windows with Vinyl framed double pane, Argon or Krypton filled, High Performance Low-E glass windows. Why Vinyl?
Because Aluminum, although 4x as Structurally Strong as Vinyl, is such a superb conductor of heat (1000X more than Vinyl), a regular Aluminum frame double pane window it performs horribly — almost the same as a Single Pane Window. That Aluminum frame makes a Thermal Bridge all the way around the perimeter, so the inside glass, even though it doesn’t touch the outside air, is almost the same temperature. When it’s hot outside, the inside pane is hot. When it’s cold outside, the inside pane is cold.
Is that just an energy bill problem? Nope. You’re right, the resulting condensation can cause wood rot and real damage to your home.
But, since Vinyl frame windows, especially in Texas’ high heat, aren’t very strong, they have to built thicker with hefty frames and sashes– It isn’t a look everyone likes.
There is a company in Texas that has the answer! A Thermally Broken Aluminum frame stops the heat — cold in its tracks. The image to the left shows the Thermally Broken frame sitting on dry ice to show how well it works.
And, its a great utility bill performer as far as Energy Savings with 3rd Generation Low-E insulated glass units and Argon gas fill.
Even better, they have extremely low air leakage, so “treated” air stays in the house and hot or cold air stays out. Finally! A narrow frame answer to often make that “hole in the wall” of a window more efficient than the wall itself.
And, because Aluminum is so much stronger, the window is more secure against break-ins or home invasions and is very durable over time with Lifetime Warranties on the frame and the seals. Look at the image to the right– try standing on Vinyl windows– it won’t be pretty.
The narrow Aluminum frame profile can make a taller window than is possible with Vinyl, and has an inch more glass all the way around the window for increased light and less frame heft. Architects and Designer love the higher “glass to frame” ratio.
There is another benefit.
Because Vinyl frame windows have so much heft, they look very different from the inside and outside. It is obvious that a window has been replaced so it is often “All or Nothing” and replacing all the windows at once may not be in the budget. This could keep you from a project you want to do.
What if you just have ugly windows? You know, hazy windows that have to be replaced because of seal failure. Or, they don’t open and close right, or are drafty or just plain need changing?
We can start with the high priority Bad windows, or the Upstairs windows where it’s really hot, or the South windows with high sun exposure… and do the rest at YOUR pace.
We can make it easy for you. Get a window you LOVE!