Avoid Common Issues with Blown Window Seals
Window Seal Options from Your Local Home Inspectors at Inspect360
Whether you’re a buyer or a seller, listing agent, buyers agent or home inspector, the dreaded ‘blown thermal seals’ comment has been known to wreak havoc on a potential purchase or sale of a home. Home inspectors are often asked – What is a blown window seal and what does it mean? How does it happen? What are your options?
Thermal pane or insulated glass windows have two or sometimes three panes of glass that are separated with a dead space of air. During the manufacturing process, moisture is removed and sealed and depending on the type and design, an inert gas such as argon or krypton can be used to increase the insulating value of the home window. An absorbent material or desiccant is also placed along the perimeter to maintain dryness in the protected airspace.
How and why do thermal panes leak?
There are many reasons for a compromised window seal that home inspectors can often explain to you based upon your situation. Anything from a manufacturing defect, improper installation, but the most common reasons are the sun and age. Sunshine can be the biggest culprit causing a daily expansion and contraction of the window panes (thermal pumping). Over time, the constant fluctuations in pressure and temperatures put a stress on the seal. The desiccant material protects the airspace until it is saturated and can no longer prevent condensation from forming. It is not a question of if, it’s a question of when.
Foggy windows not all the time…
Sometimes it’s obvious, condensation between the panes of a double-pane or triple-pane window. Or a white haze that is formed like a wintertime frost on the window. It can become more apparent in the cold weather and then disappear when it gets warmer. That intermittent fogging can make it difficult to detect and can cause confusion, frustration and fear. Windows facing south and west typically will see a larger temperature swing and can result in greater stress and higher failure rates. Condensation is not always visible and depending on how recent the failure, temperature and location, the window may not show any evidence of failure.
What are the options?
You don’t have to run for the hills! The question would be: How bad is it? At this time it may not really be noticeable or may come and go. You may say that the window is compromised and is not as efficient as it once was. Well, that is true but the cost to repair it at this time may be much more than the savings you would be receiving from a sealed window. In essence, you have a single pane window with another pane like a storm window. Depending on the conditions and the state of the failure, it could take years or it could take weeks for it to create permanent damage.
At some point, you are talking about window replacement or repair. There is much debate about the options but you don’t have to replace the whole window, just the compromised unit. According to industry experts, only about 5% of the cases require a whole window to be replaced.Â There are companies that offer to ‘defog’ the window in place or remove the damaged pane and reseal the existing unit. While there is some skepticism about the effectiveness of this method and its cost effectiveness, it is an option.
The main thing is to keep it all in perspective, explore your options and plan accordingly! If you want an unbiased opinion, you can always call you local home inspectors at Inspect360 at 469-224-0360. You can also connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, YouTube and Pinterest to learn more about how to make sure the sell of your home goes as smoothly as possible.
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