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INSPECTING YOUR WINDOW INSTALLATION
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WOOD WINDOWS AN overview

WHAT    TO    LOOK    FOR

by Jerry Kahn of A + Windows

FOAM

       A structural foam--Hilti and OSI are the most popular brands—should be applied to all gaps over 1/4 an inch that are between the drywall and the window.  The foam will harden in an hour or two and it hold the window more firmly in position than before.  The foam gun, which is used to apply the Hilti and OSI brands of foam, is a standard tool owned by a window installer.  The use of a spray can of foam with its own plastic nozzle is a sign of the worker not being a window specialist.  Foam is also an insulator and will thus improve thermal efficiency.  Check the windows before the interior trim is applied to make sure that foam is being used.   

 

EXTERIOR CAULKING

By far the most likely reason for you to call up the company which sold you the windows is water infiltration.  This is due to gaps in the caulking, almost always, on the top exterior edge of the window.  After completion of the installation the installer ought to visually inspect the caulking.  Ask him to check it before making final payment.  If there is an exposed gap in the caulking, about half the time you will notice water after the first heavy rain.  

Make sure that the caulking has not been smeared over the vinyl of the window.  Caulking will quickly pick up dirt, and within a couple of months become quite noticeable when smeared on the vinyl frame.  This is particularly true of white-latex caulking.  Thus the caulking should only fill in the gap between your wall and the window.  Ask the installer to remove such smeared caulking—and not with a solvent (see reasons below).

 

CLEANUP: 

The most common problem is a poor clean up.  Look for things that the installer might have missed.  Check the glass to make sure there are not large smudges, adhesives, or, manufacturer’s labels on your windows.  Your floors should be clean.  Check for broken glass in your shrubs, and other debris. 

 

INSTALLATION OF WINDOW:

Make sure that the windows are centered in the opening—right and left sides.  Often the top and bottom spacing is different, which is okay.  The window is resting on the window sill or retrofit, aluminum frame so as to support better the weight of the window, thus there often is more of a gap covered over with trim at the top.  Besides,  the top interior trim is normally hidden by your window covering. 

Make sure the window is not bowed, either on the sides or bottom.  This is caused by forcing the window into the opening or by the way it has been screwed into the studs.  You can check to see if it is bowed with a 3 foot or longer level, a straight rod, or visually.  Another way to check for a sliding window (slider) or patio door is to opening the moveable sash about inch and see if the gap at the top is nearly the same as at the bottom—it should be.  Windows come square from the factory, and they should remain that way when installed. 

For some windows they will not appear to be square in the opening not because of a poor installation, but because of the drywall.  When your home was built the drywall was attached to studs that were not plumb.  You can check the drywall with a level.  This is a problem not with the installation but with your home. 

 

INTERIOR CAULKING

If you have a retrofit installation (where the old aluminum frames are left in place), there will be a flat vinyl trim applied to the frame of the vinyl window and it will abut to your drywall.  A bead of caulking covers the joint of the trim and the dry wall.  Make sure the caulking is not smeared on the drywall or trim.  It will pick up dirt and discolor.  If the trim is smeared with caulking have the installer remove it.  While checking the caulking, also look at the trim to see if it has been accurately measured and that there are no gapes of more than 1/8 of an inch, that have been filled in with caulking. 

If the aluminum frames have been pulled, there might be no need for the application of the vinyl trim, and the gap to the drywall will be filled with caulking.  Other windows might need the vinyl trim.  If you want all the windows to have such trim, tell the installer.  The trim comes in different widths, or it can be cut to different widths. 

 

DEEP SCRATCHES IN VINYL

       They can be removed by soaking fine (00 or 000) steel wool in Goof Off or acetone and rubbing the gouge.   

 

 

You have to live with his work for yours, make sure you are satisfied. 

 

WHEN THE CREW STARTS TO INSTALL YOUR WINDOWS, WARN THE LEAD INSTALLER THAT YOU EXPECT THE JOB TO BE DONE TO PROFESSIONAL STANDARDS AND THAT YOU WILL CAREFULLY INSPECT THE WORK UPON COMPLETION.  YOU WOULD RATHER HAVE HIM COME THE NEXT DAY THAN TO DO A RUSH JOB.  MENTION THAT YOU EXPECT THE WINDOWS TO BE SQUARED IN THE OPENING AND NOT BOWED, AND THE CAULKING NOT TO BE SMEARED ON THE VINYL.  THIS WILL LET HIM KNOW THAT YOU HAVE SOME KNOWLEDGE ABOUT WINDOW INSTALLATION. 

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