The First Thing is That Window Installation is Not DIY
In the words of Mike Holmes “Installing new windows is not a DIY job! You can have the best-made, most energy-efficient windows, but if they are not installed properly, then the windows will not provide their optimal performance, and you’ll just have wasted a whole bunch of money.”
Mike Holmes is one of North America’s most trusted contractors his no-nonsense approach and has written a very informative, educational article for the Vancouver Sun. It reviews the proper installation method, discusses what to look for in your new windows and his opinions on type of window to have installed into your home.
He begins: “Windows are an essential part of the exterior of your home as they help protect you from the elements and help keep your home cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
I get tons of emails from people asking me about what are the best windows? What about installation? Does it need to be professionally done? The short answer is yes. Installing new windows is not a DIY job! You can have the best-made, most energy-efficient windows, but if they are not installed properly, then the windows will not provide their optimal performance, and you’ll just have wasted a whole bunch of money.”
SO, HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOUR WINDOWS NEED REPLACING?
At Long Life Windows & Doors we get a lot of calls from homeowners looking to replace their windows because of moisture. If the condensation is in between the two panes of glass this is from a failed sealed unit. If your windows are old (30+ years) and are aluminum or wood framed it is probably time to replace the entire frames. However if you have recently upgraded your windows and have moisture between the glass it might be a simplier fix by replacing the glass only, we recommend Steve from Klearpro Window Solutions.
Moisture on the interior side of your window might mean your home needs more ventilation; you can try a dehumidifier, opening windows/doors or using the bathroom fan more often.
Mike Holmes explains “High humidity usually means you have a ventilation issue, which can cause your windows to rot or rust or have mould. Over time this can cause major damage to the frame and the wall below. Check your frames for warping, mould and rot. If they’re starting to show major signs of damage, it could be time for new windows”.
BUT WHAT ARE THE BEST WINDOWS FOR HOMEOWNERS TO CHOOSE FROM?
From our Blog Post: Replacement Window Questions
How are the windows installed and will it make a lot of mess?
There are three main installation methods used here in the lower mainland. Piggybacking, Retrofitting, and Full Removal the Window Wise Way. We don’t use the Piggyback method as this requires leaving the existing aluminum frame in the wall. The systems that we have developed for replacing windows and doors are used precisely to minimize the disturbance. All our windows are custom sized and come with special trims and flashing to allow them to be installed into the existing opening.
Mike Holmes has a very simliar opinion:
“There are two types of installation: retrofit and complete frame replacement. Retrofit means that the window is replaced without removing the frame to install the window. The windows are measured to fit in an existing window opening, and only the actual window is replaced. The most significant issue with retrofit windows is that they tend to leak because it is often the frame or window opening that is the source of the leak. Replacement windows are easy to install and usually do not require permits, so they can save time and money.
However, complete frame replacement is my preferred method and is worth the extra money. Your installer will remove all the old materials, including the frame and casement, and make necessary repairs.”
WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN CHOOSING WINDOWS?
The first thing to look for is a high-performance window, like casements, awnings, tilt and turn windows and fixed. Double and triple glazed windows with Low-e coatings and gas filled, like argon or krypton, help keep out UV rays while allowing in light. During the winter months, heat loss is minimized, and heat gain is reduced in the summer. Argon gas can help improve window energy efficiency and help lower your energy bills. In my opinion, a triple pane is overkill unless you are trying to block out noise and live close to a busy highway.
WHAT DO THE ENERGY EFFICIENCY LABELS MEAN?
Windows with the ENERGY STAR® symbol are great because it’s internationally recognized and a trusted mark of high efficiency. The symbol means that a product, new home, building or industrial facility is certified as energy efficient.
The U-value or U-factor of the window indicates the rate at which heat flows through the window and frame and measures overall energy efficiency. A lower U-value means the window will insulate better.
You may also come across SHGC, which means solar heat gain coefficient. SHGC indicates how much solar energy passes through the window. The higher the number, the higher amount of solar heat passes through the window. So for those of us who live in colder climates, you may want to look for a window with higher ratings to allow the sun to warm your home, and in milder climates, you may look for windows with a lower SHGC number.
There are different ways to manufacture windows too, and the best way is to use fusion-welded windows, like vinyl, which guarantees no air or water leakage through the joints. Whereas windows that are mechanically fastened can leak through the joints, and therefore I recommend fusion-welded windows.
SO WHAT SHOULD A PROPER WINDOW INSTALLATION INCLUDE?
You know the saying measure twice and cut once? Having proper measurements is vitally essential for window installation, making sure the window’s position is as close as possible to the interior finish and that the window is level and plumb. It’s also essential to make sure a rubberized flashing material is applied to the base of the window opening to prevent water from getting into the structure from an angle or joint near the window. However, I’d recommend flashing on all sides of the window opening.
The window opening needs to be adequately shimmed and placed in the correct space with proper fasteners to secure the window. Shims are usually added in the middle of the bottom, sides, and sometimes the tops of the window frames. Low expansion foam is used in the space between the window frame and the rough opening around the perimeter of the window. Using high expansion foam can add pressure and cause the window frame to bow. The final part of the installation is making sure the window is caulked correctly on the exterior with proper caulking. There are a lot of things to consider when looking for windows, so take your time, do your research and work with a professional. They will help you make the right choice for you and your home when it comes to replacing your windows.
Full Article Credit Goes to Mike Homes: Window Installation, Best Left to The Pros
Listen to Mike’s new Holmes on Homes podcast on all major streaming platforms.