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New Windows #1: A false start

Blog entry by Dan Lyke posted 04-21-2008 09:17 PM 3041 reads 0 times favorited 46 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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Last week, some door to door sales guys came by pitching replacement windows. I thought “this ought to be fun”, and scheduled an appointment. Surprisingly, they seemed to have a darned good deal, 6 Anlin windows, including a monster picture window, for $3200 installed. Poking around gave us a fairly good impression of Anlin windows relative to various other premium vinyl windows (ie: Milgard, etc), but as we dug further we started to think that vinyl wasn’t a look we liked.

So we’ve called and cancelled that installation, and are now on to other things.

Option 1 would be something like the Andersen maple windows. We also need to look at the Pella windows. Certainly no cheaper, but if we did the work ourselves (work that Home Depot subsequently estimated at about $1800 of the total cost) probably not a whole lot more expensive.

Option 2 would be something higher end than Andersen or Pella, one of the smaller specialty window companies. Still looking at our options.

Option 3 would be waiting for the right things to come across Craigslist. Definitely a possibility, although good wood windows don’t seem to be discounted much.

Option 4 would be to build ‘em ourselves. At first I thought this was absurd for modern window technologies, but as I look further, it turns out we can buy “Integrated Glass Unit”, or “IGU”, assemblies, with the dual panes already put together from “Low-E” glass, possibly even argon filled. Put that in our own frames and we not only get the look we want, we also get the advantages of modern window technologies.

The down-side is there’s all sorts of other hardware we have to come up with, and it’s more work. On the other hand, it’s fine joinery, so it could be really cool work…

The other down-side is that the outside of that would be wood.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California, http://www.flutterby.net/



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Dan Lyke

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Zman

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posted 04-22-2008 01:32 AM

IGU stands for Insulated Glass

A few items to think about before you build your own:
The IG units will not have a warranty.
The biggest problem for all window manufactures is water infiltration. DIY’s are their own testing lab.
If you sell your house the buyers will ask who manufactured the windows and what the warranty is.
No service department to call-you are it.
You maybe required to produce a energy calculation (U-value) for each window by the building department.
All said and done you won’t save much, if any, money and other than the satisfaction of doing it yourself it is not worth it.

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Dan Lyke

331 posts in 4210 days

posted 04-22-2008 04:52 AM

Ahh, yep, some vendors use “integrated”, some use “insulated”.

Oddly, replacement windows here (in the mild climate of sea level Northern California) don’t require a building permit. So I don’t have to worry about the energy calculation, although if we go that route I’ll probably do it because… The most annoying thing about going to a wood frame from the higher-end vinyl frames is that the U-value goes up.

And, as you note from the water infiltration risks, one of the nice things about the commercial window units is that they have cladding on the outside. On the other hand, the fine print on the various window warranties don’t give me much hope that I’d actually get anything worthwhile if the window failed; at best they cover a limited notion of “manufacturing defect”, and only replacement cost of the window. Given that leaks are really more likely to result from bad trim or bad installation, and that the costs of leaks are going to far exceed the cost of the window, the warranty seems like a non-issue.

So although it looks like option #4 won’t save me much money, in fact it might even cost more, it’s not off the table yet.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California, http://www.flutterby.net/

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tenontim

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posted 04-22-2008 03:12 PM

Just for comparison of the Andersen and Pela windows. I installed new windows in our 75 year old house up in Maine. I did it in two phases (due to money limitations). The house was two story, so we went to Home Depot and bought enough windows to do the upstairs. At the time Home Depot was carrying Pela. Two years later I went back to get the windows need to do the downstairs. Home Depot no longer carried Pela, so I had to go with a comparable Andersen window. They looked the same and had the same features and installation was practically the same. The one difference we noticed during the winter was the Pelas would get a covering of moisture on them when it was really cold and the Andersens did not. Don’t know why. They were both double pane glass with wood window frames. Just something to think about.

-- Tim

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Dan Lyke

331 posts in 4210 days

posted 04-22-2008 04:10 PM

Ahhh… Good feedback on the Pelas. I haven’t seen ‘em yet was but leaning that way because of the J.D. Power reviews. On the other hand it looks like the national brands fall far behind the smaller regional brands in terms of customer satisfaction, so I’m looking around and trying to find smaller manufacturers who do wood.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California, http://www.flutterby.net/

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Dan Lyke

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posted 04-22-2008 07:30 PM

Oh, just to elaborate a bit:

What that probably means is that the Pela windows aren’t insulating as effectively as the Andersen windows.

Hot air can hold more moisture than cold air, so on any interface between hot and cold, the moisture on the hot side will condense onto the colder surface. This is why you put vapor barriers on the inside of the insulation, if it were on the outside you’d have cold air on one side and warm moisture laden air on the other, and you’d get condensation on the inside of your vapor barrier, which would lead to mold in your insulation.

Put the vapor barrier on the inside of the insulation and the barrier should be the same temperature, or close enough, on both sides.

Same thing happens with windows: If your insulation system is working fine then the temperature gradient is in between your inner and outer pane, and since that was sealed up in a factory it should have too little moisture in it to condense, so there’s no moisture on the inside of the outer pane. However, if your window isn’t insulating well, the inside pane will be cold, and condensation from the warm air inside the house will form.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California, http://www.flutterby.net/

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