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John R
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Vinyl replacement window terminology


With so many homeowners in the market for more energy efficient windows and doors for their home, I thought I would use this week's article to cover the more common terms used to describe a window's ability to insulate your home from the elements. There is an organization called The National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC). Their purpose is to test each window manufacturer's product to independently verify the ratings for each test administered. So, let's discuss each test and what it means.


First, there is the U-Factor. This number represents the rate that heat escapes through the window. Therefore, the lower the U-Factor, the better the window. Most vinyl replacement windows with standard, dual pane glass, have a U-Factor around .5. When you add LowE glass in place of the standard clear glass, the U-Factor comes down to .4 or below. By replacing the air between the panes of glass with Argon or Krypton gas, the U-Factor can be reduced to around .35 or below. By adding a second LowE surface or adding a third pane of glass (Triple pane) the U-Factor can be reduced below .30. The Government's energy star program requires a window to have a U-Factor below a certain number in order to be energy star rated. You need to find out what that rating is in your particular area of the country. You can start by going to The energy star website. In areas of the country where rebates are given for installing energy star rated products in your home, you will only receive the rebate by proving that your windows have a U-Factor less than the maximum allowed. That proof comes from the manufacturer's NFRC label affixed to each window.


Another test is called Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC). The SHGC measures a window's rate of heat penetration from outside. The lower the number, the better resistance there is to heat getting into the house from outside. There are also air and water infiltration tests. The air test actually tests how much air is able to pass through the window from outside to inside. Therefore, you want a low number. Typically, a .30 is the maximum allowable rate of air infiltration. Water infiltration tests the amount of water and pressure the window is able to resist. Therefore, the higher rating is better for this test. Frankly, I wish they would just rate all tests on a 1 to 10 scale, with 10 being best. Then, you wouldn't get confused trying to remember which tests should have high numbers and which ones should have low numbers. You can get more information on window testing by going to the NFRC Website.

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Wood window sill repair

If you have old wood windows, chances are they are in need of painting, or worse, they are rotting. You have a few options. You can paint them every few years and use wood filler to repair the rotting areas. This is probably your cheapest option if you do the labor yourself. You can replace the entire sill with new sills that are either wood or a composite material. If you do the work yourself, this option will be more expensive than painting, but not too extreme. However, eventually the new sills will require regular maintenance. A third option is to hire a contractor to wrap the window sills with an aluminum material. This is not a job that you should attempt yourself. In addition to needing the special tool to bend the aluminum, it is a skill that takes practice to perfect. Also, painted aluminum can scratch and dent and require maintenance in the future.



The option that I want to discuss is wrapping your window sills with vinyl. My company sells a vinyl extrusion that is already pre formed to fit on 95% of all wood window sills. If the thickness of your sill is greater than 1 3/4", you are in the 5%. The advantages of a vinyl sill cover are as follows; First, you never have to deal with maintenance issues again. No more painting, no more wood rot, no scratching or denting. Second, a homeowner with basic tools can do the job themselves. Third, if you have vinyl replacement windows installed or are planning on installing vinyl replacement windows, the white vinyl matches the window frame. If you install vinyl replacement windows that have colored frames, the vinyl window sill covers can be painted to match most colors using a spray paint that is designed for plastic patio furniture. Krylon and rustoleum both make a plastic spray paint. The vinyl covers can be cut using a circular saw or a simple hacksaw. The sill covers are attached to the wood using an extreme weather sealant so no screws or nails are exposed. You can watch my vinyl window sill cover installation video on You Tube by going to https://youtu.be/EcV5gwzk9k4



If you live in a state where there are restrictions on lead in the paint that is used to maintain the window sills, this product will eliminate the detection of lead. I sell a lot of these window sill covers in the Northeast, particularly Massachusetts. Now, if you want the exterior to be all vinyl, you can combine the vinyl window sill cover with my vinyl angle window trim to cover the surrounding wood molding for an all vinyl look. You can watch the vinyl angle trim video on You Tube by going here https://youtu.be/n45jyWy-6wA



If you want to purchase the vinyl window sill covers or vinyl window angle trim, visit my online store here http://store.how-to-install-windows.com/index.html

Replacing broken glass in a sliding door


This Article will focus on replacing single pane broken glass in an aluminum sliding glass door. If your sliding door was installed before 1980, there is a possibility that the glass is not safety glass. The law requiring safety glass in all doors was passed in either the late 1960's or early 1970's. In any event, it really doesn't matter. What does matter is that you must install safety glass when replacing the broken glass. You can order the glass from a local glass shop. They will need to know the width, the height, and the glass thickness. If you live in a residential tract home, there are standard sizes used in the sliding door industry. For example, if you have an opening of 6' wide X 6' 8" Tall, the glass in each panel will be 34 X 76. You can confirm this by measuring across where the glass disappears into the frame rail. You should come up with somewhere around 33". That means the glass goes approximately 1/2" into the frame on each side. The height will measure approximately 75". If You have a small 5' wide door, the glass will be 28 X 76, a 7' door will be 40 X 76, and an 8' door will be 46 X 76.


Exceptions to this rule will be in mobile homes, and in some rare cases, custom built homes. If you measure the old glass and come up with 33 X 72, then you need to order 34 X 73. You will find that most glass shops stock the typical sizes, but if you require something custom, they will have to order it for you, and it could take a few days to get it. You need to know the thickness as well, especially if your door is newer than 1980, and the broken glass is tempered safety glass. The typical glass thickness in doors made before the tempered law was 1/4". I have seen rare occasions where 3/16 was used. But, when the tempered glass became mandatory, the manufacturers wanted to save money, so they made frames that would accept 1/8" glass and 3/16" glass. They stopped manufacturing doors with 1/4" tempered glass. It's very simple to determine the thickness if the broken glass is tempered, because you will have thousands of tiny pieces all over the floor. Just measure the thickness of one of those pieces. However, if the glass is not tempered, and if it's only cracked, it takes a bit more effort.


Go to the hardware store and buy a cheap glass cutter with a wood handle. They cost a couple of dollars. Scratch the glass with it from the existing crack to the frame where the glass disappears. make the cut to the same frame rail where the existing crack goes, because the object is to separate this piece from the rest. After scratching the glass, go on the other side and tap the scratch with a screwdriver handle. So, if you scratched it from inside the house, tap it from outside, and vise versa. The glass will "run" towards the frame. Keep tapping right behind the "run" as it goes along. Once it reaches the frame edge, you should have two cracks going to the edge, thus isolating that piece from the rest. Now, tap the point where the two cracks meet until the edge of the glass is exposed. Measure it, then duct tape it really well until you are ready to replace it.


When you order the proper width, height, and glass thickness from the local glass shop, be sure to tell them it must be tempered glass. As I said, in some cases you will be able to pick up the glass same day, other times it will take days to get it. In either case, once the new glass is at the house, it's time to swap them out. 95% of all sliding doors have the fixed panel on the outer track and the slider on the inner track, so we will assume that is what you have. If the broken glass is in the fixed panel, the job is easier, so let's start there.


Remove the screen door if you have one, then look at the bottom track, where the fixed panel stops. There is supposed to be a piece of metal running from the bottom corner of the fixed panel over to the side jamb that the slider locks into. That metal piece has two functions. First, it is designed to keep intruders from prying out the fixed panel, and second, it acts as a threshold. If you don't have one, don't worry about it. To remove it, try to get a tool into the crack where the piece meets the side jamb, and pry up. If the crack is too small, use a flat screwdriver and tap it with a hammer where the outer edge of the metal piece is snapped into the bottom track, and once again, pry up.


Once that is removed, go inside and look for screws where the fixed panel frame goes into the side jamb. Remove any screws. There are usually 3 of them, one on top and bottom, and one near the center. If you don't see any screws, look outside where the top and bottom corners of the fixed panel go into the top header and bottom track. They sometimes use a metal clip and screw to hold the fixed panel in place. Once all screws are removed, grab the fixed panel rail near the bottom corner, and lift straight up. This loosens the frame. You should then be able to push it back down and work it out of the side jamb. Once it's away from the jamb, you should be able to grab both side rails and lift the panel up and out of the bottom track, then pull it out of the top header. Remember how it goes back in, so you don't put it in wrong.


Try to find a table that you can lay the panel on and have one long and one short side hanging over the edge. Before laying it on the table, put an old sheet down, because glass is going to fall out when you pull the frame apart. Ok, lay the frame on the table, and remove two screws from opposite corners of the frame. In other words, if you remove the top right corner screw, remove the bottom left screw. Then remove the rubber edge piece that goes all the way around the glass. Clean all of the broken glass pieces out of the rubber. You can wear a glove and run your finger through the rubber channel to be sure all the glass is gone. You now have a piece of rubber and two L-Shaped frames.


Clean off the table, and lay the new glass on the table, with one long and one short side hanging off the edge. Install the rubber on those two sides only, then take one of your L-Shaped frame pieces (it doesn't matter which one), line it up with the edge of the glass, and tap the frame onto the rubber, starting at the corner and doing the short side, then the long side. You can tap it with a rubber mallet or the wood handle of a hammer. Slide the glass so the other 2 sides hang off the table, then install the rubber again and tap on the second frame piece. Install the screws back in the corners, and install the panel back into the opening.


If your broken glass is in the slider, you still have to remove the fixed panel from the opening. The slider will not come out from inside the room. The inside lip on the bottom track is too tall. Take a phillips screwdriver and locate holes at the bottom corners of the sliding door panel. These holes allow you to raise or lower the rollers underneath. You need to adjust the rollers all the way in order for the door panel to lift out of the bottom track. Turning counterclockwise will accomplish this. You may even need to have someone prying on the bottom of the frame while you try to lift and pull the bottom out.


The procedure for installing the new glass is the same as for the fixed panel, except you will have to remove the handle and lock assembly before you can take the two frame pieces apart. Now might also be a good time to replace your rollers. Many hardware stores carry the most common types of rollers, but if you can't find them, you might have to go back to the glass shop that sold you the glass. Bring them a roller and if they don't have it in stock, they can usually order them for you. When you put the new rollers in, adjust them all the way so the door will lift over the track easily, then after it is installed, you can adjust the rollers clockwise until the door slides smooth and level, and locks easily.

Replacing steel casement windows part 2


Last week, I explained how to remove your old steel casement windows as you prepare each opening for the new Vinyl windows. In most of the country, you are limited to a replacement style frame, which is a new construction frame with the nail fin removed. Remember, when you removed the old casement window, you left the perimeter frame in place. So, you have a lip protruding into the opening that is approximately 1/2" wide. You need to order your replacement style frame to fit inside of this old frame.


Measure the width from lip to lip and deduct 1/4 to 3/8". Measure the height and deduct 1/4". When you install the new window, rest the new frame on the bottom lip of the old frame. Leave the front of the new frame about 1/8" further outside than the old frame lip. Drive a screw in the top center to hold it in place. Then, make sure the window is perfectly upright before installing a screw in the bottom center. Now you can secure the rest of the window with screws.


At this point you should have a replacement window that is approximately 5/8" away from the left and right wall, 1/2" from the bottom, and 3/4" from the top. You now need to insulate and trim all four sides. You should get a trim that will adhere to the face of the window frame on the outside, then go over to the wall from which the lip is protruding on all four sides. However, before applying the trim, run a bead of caulk about 1/4" thick on the face of the steel lip on all 4 sides. When you apply the trim, it will stick to the face of the vinyl frame and the back of the trim will seal to the face of the steel lips. Go inside and fill the space with fiberglass insulation. You can get a roll of insulation at the hardware store. You can also get the trim there. I sell a vinyl flat trim in 2 different widths that can be reduced in 1/4" increments. I sell an interior and exterior grade trim, so you will need to purchase both types to do the interior and exterior. Be sure to seal where the trim meets the wall on all four sides inside and out.


If you live in the west, you have a second option. You can get a retrofit frame with a 2" lip on the outside. The purpose of the lip is to stop against the exterior of the house as you insert the window into the opening. Many times, steel casement windows will be recessed into the opening, so having the flush fin go on the stucco is not an option. In that case, you want the thin fin so you can cut it to fit into the recessed opening and seal against the steel lip on all 4 sides. If you are able to use the retrofit style frame, you eliminate the step of trimming out the exterior. You still must trim out the interior. If you have any questions about anything in this article, you can send me an email.

Replacing steel casement windows


I have been getting quite a few emails from homeowners wanting to know how to replace their old steel casement windows. Those are the type with the handle that you crank and the window opens outward. I am going to dedicate two articles to this subject. This first article will cover the removal procedure and measuring for your vinyl windows. In the next article I will go over the installation procedure.


The first thing you need to do is order your vinyl replacement windows. You can't remove the old windows until you have the new windows. So, let's start with a single casement window, no fixed panels. Crank the window open from inside and you will see a metal lip approximately 1/2" wide extending from your drywall on all four sides. This part of the frame stays in place, so the new window is going to fit inside those lips. So, to get your width dimension, measure left to right from lip to lip, then subtract 1/4" to get in. Do the same for the height. Let's say you measure 35 3/8" width and 38 3/8" on the height lip to lip. You would order your new window 35 1/8" X 38 1/8". If you live out west, where retrofit frames are available, you want to order the retrofit style frame. In parts of the country where only replacement style frames are available, you will have to add trim to the outside after you have installed the window.
After your windows arrive, it's time to remove the old window. Single casements with no fixed panels are the easiest of the casements to remove. When you crank the window open, you will notice two pivot assemblies. There is one on top and one on bottom. Cut off the metal piece where the pivot pin is attached. Just like that, the entire window frame and glass are removed. Now, remove the crank assembly by removing the screws holding it in place inside the house. The last step is to remove the protruding metal studs that you cut at the pivot to remove the window. The easiest way to do it is to clamp a pair of channel lock pliers or vice grips as close to the frame as possible, then raise and lower the vice grips to break the metal off. That's it.


,p>If you have a combination of casement and fixed panels, you remove the casements as I described. Then, you have to remove the fixed glass. I used to put duct tape all over the outside of the glass. Then, I used one of those 2 dollar glass cutters that you can buy at the hardware store. Put a drop of household oil on the cutter tip before each cut. From outside, score the glass across the very top of the glass, the very bottom, and along each side. Then go inside and, using the tip of a screwdriver, tap the score all the way around the glass. Put a tarp or old sheet down outside the window, take the handle end of a hammer, and knock out the glass at the score. You will have a vertical metal bar in the center where the casement window locked. Using a reciprocating saw or a hacksaw, cut the bar where it meets the frame coming from the drywall. There will be bits of glass protruding beyond the metal lips. You need to knock those out, so they aren't in the way when installing the new window. You can leave the glazing putty in place, since it will be hidden after you have installed the new window. PLEASE WEAR GLOVES AND SAFETY GLASSES DURING THIS ENTIRE REMOVAL PROCEDURE!!

Avoiding leaks when installing vinyl retrofit windows.


These days a lot of homeowners are replacing their old windows with vinyl windows using the retrofit style of window frame. This is particularly true in the west, and specifically, in California. The number one argument that I have heard against using the retrofit method, is that it is susceptible to water leaks. Well, that's true if you don't do it properly. But, if you do a complete tear out of your old window down to the studs, you're going to have water leak issues there as well if you don't install the new window properly. So I think that argument is, well, all wet. So, let me tell you the best way to install your retrofit windows that will ensure that water cannot get in.
There is an old song that goes, "It never rains in California, but girl don't they warn ya, it pours, man it pours". For those of you in California, you know how true this is. While California doesn't get a lot of annual rainfall, when it does rain, it can come down in buckets due to the close proximity to the ocean. So, you want to be sure that your windows are well sealed. If you are installing retrofit frames against a stucco house, you want to put a thick bead of sealant right on the outside face of the old window frame, all the way around. Latex caulk should work fine, but if you want to spend a little more to get the best sealant available, use 100% silicone. Depending on the number of windows you will be doing, this extra cost can add up. You pay approximately $1 for a tube of acrylic latex caulk, and $4 or more for a tube of 100% silicone. You are going to use 1 or 2 tubes per window, depending on the size. So you can see how it could add up.


Here is a trick that I used to do to save a little money; The most vulnerable part of your installation is the top of the window, because gravity will have the water running down from the roof to the ground. It's not likely that water is going to find it's way through the sides or bottom. So, I used to carry two caulking guns, and load one with the silicone, and the other with the acrylic caulk. I would run the silicone across the top of the old frame, and use caulk on the sides and bottom. Then, put your new window into the opening and have a helper hold it firmly in place while you plumb and level it, then screw it into place.
After you have the window completely installed, your final step should be to caulk where the retrofit lip meets the stucco. Here again, I used to use white silicone on the top, and caulk on the sides and bottom. You now have a double barrier against water infiltration. After about a week, check the sealant around each window for signs of cracking. Because stucco is usually uneven, there could have been gaps that were larger in some areas than in others. If you don't force the caulk into the gap to completely fill it, the caulk can sag before drying, causing a crack to form. Simply recaulk over any cracks that you see. You can check the silicone on top as well, but because silicone dries like a rubber substance, you shouldn't see any cracks there.
OK, what if the replacement windows are going between wood trim surrounding the opening? If you are using the retrofit lip, and trimming it to fit between the wood, then you still apply the heavy bead to the old frame before installing the window. But, instead of sealing where the retrofit lip meets the stucco, you seal where it meets the wood. Then, you want to be sure to seal above the window, where the top piece of wood meets the stucco. Again, use silicone up there. Now, no water can run down the stucco wall and get under the top piece of wood. Sometimes, though, you might decide not to use a retrofit style frame between the wood, choosing a block replacement frame instead. If you choose to do it this way, you have to add trim to the outside. You still want to apply the sealant to the old frame, then apply your trim so it contacts the new window as well as the sealant on the old frame.


If you follow these procedures, you won't have to worry about any water penetrating into your home, I don't care how hard it pours!

If you are a California resident, you can get an online quote on new Ply Gem vinyl replacement and retrofit windows and doors by going to http://www.how-to-install-windows.com and using the quote tab to select the model you are interested in.

You can get educated on the 3 different Ply Gem models if you go to http://www.how-to-install-windows.com and hover over the "educate" tab. Then select "Ply Gem product line".

Choosing a vinyl replacement window contractor


Whenever I write an article, it's usually tailored to the do it yourself homeowner to help them save some money on the high cost of labor these days. This article is for the "not so handy" homeowner who wants to have new vinyl windows installed in their home.


So, where do you begin? Well, the first step is to get estimates. You should always get 3 estimates. Keep in mind that the price you are quoted doesn't necessarily reflect the quality of the product. For example, I used to wear the hat of Owner, Salesman, and Installer. So, when I would give an estimate, my only markup would be to pay my salary. On the other extreme, some companies have an inside sales staff who do telemarketing as well as mail solicitation. These people set up in-home estimates. Then, there is an outside sales staff who visit the customer for an in-home estimate. If the customer signs a contract, there is another employee who measures your windows. Then, the installation crew comes out and actually installs your windows. In many cases, you never even see or talk to the owner. Now, imagine if this company, let's call them shears, was selling the exact same window that I was selling. After you got both estimates, you might be inclined to think that my product must be inferior if I'm able to sell it so much cheaper. The reality is, it's cheaper because I pay two salaries; my salary and my other installer's salary. The other owner has to pay his own salary plus Inside sales, outside sales, field measurer, and installation crew.


So, when you get each estimate, these are the important things to know about that particular brand: What kind of warranty do they offer? Any reputable vinyl window manufacturer should offer a lifetime warranty because any quality vinyl window and door really is made to last a lifetime. Ask how long the MANUFACTURER has been making vinyl windows. A lifetime warranty is meaningless if the manufacturer goes out of business. Once you're confident that the manufacturer is well established, find out how long the installer has been replacing windows. Make sure they are licensed and insured. Being licensed and insured doesn't necessarily mean they're good, but it does give them accountability. I knew an unlicensed window installer who was as good as any licensed installer, but if he were to mess up a job, the customer had no recourse against him.
Once you are satisfied with the price, manufacturer, and installer, you can determine the level of quality of the actual product. You can get all hung up on specs such as U-Value, R-Value, Air infiltration, etc. But I believe you can actually get more confused if you start trying to compare all of those numbers. Just ask if the product is an energy star rated window. If the answer is yes, then you know the specs meet the highest government standards. You can confirm this by going to the Energy star website. If the manufacturer is listed on the energy star site, you can be sure that the U-Value, R-Value, SHGC, and Air infiltration tests have met the requirements.


So, now you can concentrate on some of the functional parts of your window. If you are in the market for a single hung or double hung window, ask about the mechanism that is used to hold up your window sashes. If they still use the old spring and string method (sometimes referred to as block and tackle), or the spiral metal balances, you are not getting a high quality window. The constant force balance system is more technologically advanced. It uses a titanium coil that is designed to last longer than you or I. Also, a good quality hung window will have sashes that can tilt in so you can clean the glass from inside the home. This is a nice feature to have, especially if your windows are on the second floor. Just these two items can tell you a lot about the quality of the window. On horizontal sliders, look at the weep holes located on the lower front of the window. There will be one on each end. These holes are there to drain out any water that might get inside. On many windows, the weep hole is just a punched hole that leads to the inside track. Unfortunately, with this type of situation, a strong wind can blow cold air and dirt through those holes, right into the home. A better quality window will have a one-way trap door on the weep holes. The door stays closed against wind and dust, but if any water gets into the inside track, the door will open to allow the water to escape. Also, check the frame corners. A quality window has welded corners. The vinyl corners are welded through a heat and cool process. A lesser grade window will use screws to hold the corners together. When you make your appointment for the estimate, be sure to request a sample of the window be brought to your home so you can visually check these things.


A salesman is taught to focus on their product's strong points and avoid the weak points, so it's up to you to stay focused yourself, and don't allow yourself to be distracted. "How long has the manufacturer been in business?" "What is their warranty?" "Are the windows Energy Star rated?" "Are the installers licensed and insured?" "What mechanism holds up the sashes on the hung windows?" "Do they tilt in?" "Are the frames welded or screwed together?" "Do the horizontal sliders have weep hole covers?" If you get satisfactory answers to these questions, you are on your way to a positive vinyl window experience.

Vinyl replacement window terminology


With so many homeowners in the market for more energy efficient windows and doors for their home, I thought I would use this week's article to cover the more common terms used to describe a window's ability to insulate your home from the elements. There is an organization called The National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC). Their purpose is to test each window manufacturer's product to independently verify the ratings for each test administered. So, let's discuss each test and what it means.


First, there is the U-Factor. This number represents the rate that heat escapes through the window. Therefore, the lower the U-Factor, the better the window. Most vinyl replacement windows with standard, dual pane glass, have a U-Factor around .5. When you add LowE glass in place of the standard clear glass, the U-Factor comes down to .4 or below. By replacing the air between the panes of glass with Argon or Krypton gas, the U-Factor can be reduced to around .35 or below. By adding a second LowE surface or adding a third pane of glass (Triple pane) the U-Factor can be reduced below .30. The Government's energy star program requires a window to have a U-Factor below a certain number in order to be energy star rated. You need to find out what that rating is in your particular area of the country. You can start by going to The energy star website. In areas of the country where rebates are given for installing energy star rated products in your home, you will only receive the rebate by proving that your windows have a U-Factor less than the maximum allowed. That proof comes from the manufacturer's NFRC label affixed to each window.


Another test is called Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC). The SHGC measures a window's rate of heat penetration from outside. The lower the number, the better resistance there is to heat getting into the house from outside. There are also air and water infiltration tests. The air test actually tests how much air is able to pass through the window from outside to inside. Therefore, you want a low number. Typically, a .30 is the maximum allowable rate of air infiltration. Water infiltration tests the amount of water and pressure the window is able to resist. Therefore, the higher rating is better for this test. Frankly, I wish they would just rate all tests on a 1 to 10 scale, with 10 being best. Then, you wouldn't get confused trying to remember which tests should have high numbers and which ones should have low numbers. You can get more information on window testing by going to the NFRC Website.

Dual pane window glass repair


For the past few weeks, I have been explaining how to repair a broken window pane in your home. But, what if you have dual pane windows? Is the process the same? Well, pretty much, except for a couple of variations. So, let's review the single pane repair process, and I will point out the differences regarding dual pane windows.


When we start talking about dual pane windows, one of the first things that comes to mind is vinyl window frames instead of aluminum. When dealing with dual pane windows, you can have either aluminum or vinyl frames, depending on the year the house was built. Dual pane glass got popular in the 1980's, but vinyl frames didn't really catch on until the 1990's. So, if your house is less than 15-20 years old, chances are you have vinyl framed windows. In either case, I will discuss the differences.
Let's say you have a sliding aluminum frame window with dual pane glass. The procedure for removing the frame from the opening and the glass from the sash is the same as with the single pane windows. The differences are, first, the glass goes into the frame about twice as far as the single pane window. The single pane window glass went 1/4" into the surrounding rubber. The dual pane usually goes 1/2" into the rubber. So, if both pieces of glass have been broken, you are going to have to order a new IGU (Insulated Glass Unit) from the local glass shop. They are going to want to know the width, height, overall thickness, and possibly the individual glass thickness. The best way to get the dimensions is to measure the width and height from rubber to rubber, write those numbers down. Then, remove the panel from the opening and place it on a table like we did with the single pane window. Remove the screws from opposite corners and pull off the frame. You will be able to see how far the glass goes into the surrounding rubber. If it's 1/2", then you want to add 1" to the width and height that you measured previously (1/2" times two sides= 1"). Then, measure the overall thickness of the unit by removing the rubber from the glass edge. Typically, this dimension is 1/2", but not always. There is a metal spacer that divides the two panes of glass. Make a note of the color so you can request the same color in the new IGU. It's either going to be silver or bronze. If you want to get the same size spacer you need to give the glass shop the thickness of each piece of glass in the IGU. If the old unit has 1/8" glass on both sides, and the overall thickness of the unit is 1/2", then they will use a 1/4" spacer. If the glass is 3/32" on both sides, they will use a 5/16" spacer. If you don't care about matching the spacer thickness, you can request the thicker 1/8" glass, and they will automatically use a 1/4" spacer.


When you get the new IGU home, the installation is the same as the single pane window. Now, what if only one side of the IGU has been broken? Many times the outer pane will break, but the inside pane is fine. You can order a whole new IGU Like we just did, or, if you're the adventurous type, you can order only the single pane of glass that was broken and replace it. I'm going to explain how to do it, then I'm going to tell you the things that can go wrong.


After you have the window pane on the table with the surrounding frame removed, you will see a black rubber type substance around the edge where the spacer is applied. This is a butyl sealant, and you have to separate the broken glass from this butyl. The best way to do it is to take a utility knife with a new blade and break through the butyl where it meets the broken glass. Then, take a new hacksaw blade, and push it into the area where you separated the butyl from the glass. You don't want the hacksaw blade to be attached to a hacksaw. Using your hand, saw back and forth as you work your way around the edge of the glass. This should allow you to remove the glass. Once that's done, lay rags on top of the good piece of glass to catch any debris, and scrape the surface of the spacer that will be contacting the new glass. Use a putty knife. Then, remove the rags and debris. When you are ready to put the new glass on, clean the inside of the good piece of glass that you didn't remove. Remember, once you install the new glass, any debris or finger marks on the inside will be permanently sealed. So, clean it real good and check it from all angles. Do the same to the side of the new glass that will be going to the inside of the IGU. Then, run a thin bead of clear silicone around the entire perimeter of the spacer. Set your new glass on the spacer and use finger pressure to adhere the glass to the silicone all the way around.Then, come in from the side, and run silicone around the side where the glass and spacer meet. Cover the window opening with something for 24 hours. You do not want to touch the IGU for 24 hours. The silicone needs to cure. After 24 hours, you can assemble the unit and install it back into the opening.


There are a couple of things that can go wrong. The first one is leaving marks on the inside portion of the glass. Once you seal the glass, you cannot clean what's between the panes. The other thing involves condensation between the panes. If you have even the slightest break in the silicone seal around the glass, chances are you will begin to see moisture form as soon as the nights get cold and the days get warm. You are going to have to decide if you are confident enough in your ability to do the job right, or if it's better to pay the extra money to have a new IGU made for you. Just because you pay someone to do it, doesn't mean you still won't encounter the same problems. The difference is, they have to guarantee their IGU for a minimum of 1 year. I have received many units over the years that had marks in between the glass. The beauty of it is the manufacturer can't dispute it, because there's no way anyone else could have done it except them.
OK, what if the window frames are vinyl instead of aluminum? Well, the main difference is the glass in a vinyl window no longer has the rubber gasket around the edge. You don't remove the opposite corner screws and separate the frame from the glass. What they do is put either silicone or a two sided tape on the lip of the frame where the glass rests. That's what holds the glass in the frame, then they apply a snap in stop on all four sides of the glass. So, you have to remove the stops first, then turn over the panel and break the seal holding the glass to the frame using a utility knife. Wear gloves during this procedure.


If only one side of the IGU is broken, don't even think about repairing just the one side. You will never get that IGU out of the frame without breaking the other piece of glass in the process. But, on the positive side, you can remove the stops without taking the panel out if it's a slider. You can then measure the dimensions of the glass, and order the new IGU. That way you eliminate any need to temporarily cover up your window. The same is true for the stationary portion of a slider, or a picture window. Before you install the new IGU, be sure and clean the lip that had the tape or silicone, and apply either silicone or tape. Either will work.
You will discover that replacing an IGU in an aluminum frame window is a whole lot easier than a vinyl window. But, in either case, you can do it yourself and save a few bucks.

Single hung aluminum window glass repair


Let's talk about repairing broken glass in an aluminum frame single hung window. If it's the lower sash pane that is broken, it must be removed from the inside. You are going to have one of three different mechanisms that hold the lower sash up when you slide it open. If you can't see any mechanisms on the sides, then you have a block and tackle system consisting of a string and spring assembly. Find the thin metal clips in the side jambs just above the sash. Pull the bottom of the clip out using a screwdriver or your fingernail. Do that on both sides. Then remove any rubber stops at the very top of the window. Raise the window as high as it will go. The block and tackle assemblies will get snagged in the metal clips, allowing you to remove the window sash. You would replace the glass using the same method described in our article about sliding window repairs. Once you have the new glass installed, install the window panel in the reverse order that you removed it. Close the window and push the metal clips back. Install the rubber stops at the top.


If you have a mechanism across the top of the window with a string coming down each side and screwed into the top corners of the window sash, you need to remove the screws holding the strings in place. But before you remove the screws, you need to remove one of the black plastic pieces that cover the side jamb. Raise the window all the way up, then put a flat screwdriver at the very bottom of the plastic piece and pull outward until you can grab it with your fingers. Slide the plastic out. Now remove the screws holding the strings. Be sure to hold the string in one hand while removing the screw, because the string is under tension.


After removing the screw, let the string slowly go back up. Pull the panel to the side that you removed the black plastic piece, and remove the panel. Remember, two of your corner screws will be removed at this point, and the proper way to remove the frame from the glass is to remove opposite corner screws. So, you should put one of the string screws back in and remove the corner screw opposite the removed string screw. Then, after you install the new glass, remove the string screw and install the strings. Raise the window up and install the black plastic piece by sliding it up between the frame and side jamb.


The final mechanism will be a spiral metal rod. If you have this type, I suggest you have it done by a professional. If you aren't careful with these, you can wind up having to replace the spiral rods. Now, if the broken pane is the upper sash, more than likely it will be a fixed panel. You can take these out without messing with the sliding panel. Unlock the window and raise the lower sash a few inches. Remove the screen, then remove the two screws holding the horizontal bar in place. Tap the bar down in one corner using a hammer and screwdriver. The bar will come off. Then you can grab the bottom of the upper sash and wiggle as you pull the sash downward. Once you have pulled it down several inches, you should be able to grab the top and bottom of the sash and pull to the left or right until the opposite side comes out. Then you can swing the panel out.


Once the new glass is installed, you can put the upper sash back by reversing the removal procedure. Tap the bottom upward with a hammer or rubber mallet, ensuring that the sash is fully seated in the top of the frame. Then, put the horizontal mulling bar back in place and tap it on the sash frame. Install the screws and screen. You're done.

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