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Window Selection - It's Scary Out There

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Mary's Forum Posts: 101
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By Mary in PA on 2/2/2011

I’m researching windows for our house, looking at things like the U-value and SHGC, especially for the south side where I want to take advantage of some passive solar heating in the winter. So things are moving along, and I’m getting initial quotes and narrowing in on things... and then I stumble upon a “window failure” video on YouTube. The video happened to be for a Pella install, but with a little looking you can pretty much find videos showing problems for most any manufacturer.


Sometimes I wonder if these problems are all or in part related to the install method, but some of the video/photographs show DAYLIGHT through the JAMBS – that’s hard to believe… and hard to understand how such a window unit would make it through the manufacturer’s QA process. Or how they could refute the problem when shown photos of the windows installed. Daylight is daylight – right? I’m no window expert, but it certainly seems like a problem to me! It is interesting to note that on this very forum there is a similar type of report from a homeowner regarding Jeld-Wen windows.


I wonder if with any window, there is a risk for some catastrophic problems when the windows came off the production line with defects. But still, why weren’t these window defects caught in factory QA and held back? And even if they did get into the field, why wouldn’t a factory representative or local dealer “do the right thing” and replace the product when faced with obvious and clear evidence of factory defects. It’s hard to believe, really.


-Windows are expensive.

--You have to pay for them up front.

----They aren’t “fixable” by handy owner-builders.

-----Wow - it’s downright scary out there!


A brief sample of links…


Pella problem video on YouTube

Pella problem homeowner website

Thread on this forum reporting problem with Jeld-Wen

Marvin window failure (from a homeowner who knows how to make a video!)


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By Brian in Dome-ville, FL on 2/4/2011

I have PGT vinyl-framed impact windows. They are what I would call medium quality. That being said, they are fairly inexpensive, and were very accurate on the sizing and such. Structurally, they were fine windows, although there was a little flashing/visible seaming on the frames where they are welded together, but that's looks, not functionality. They weren't BAD, just not perfect. I am happy with them. A 36"x36" was about $350, double-hung insulated impact. They operate OK, not the smoothest, but OK.


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By Michael in Cave Creek, AZ on 2/4/2011

To save money on windows, go to the local big box see what they have in stock and design your house to use windows in those sizes. Nearly every window will cost less than $200. These economical windows even have Energy Star ratings. 

This suggestion doesn't apply to dream homes, where the O-B is after a certain look and has unlimited funds (or the architect merely assumes that the OB has unlimited funds), because these mass produced windows are available in a very limited range of sizes, colors and with virtually no options,  but your window package may cost $5 to $10K instead of $30K or $50K. 

The O-B gets to decide between custom windows or budget windows and month or two at a luxury resort in Hawaii. My personal choice is always Hawaii during the drywall stage of the house. If you have a good drywall crew, you can get away from the house for a midway break after it passes the four-way inspection and before the interior finishing begins.


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