I get this question a lot: What do I do about broken window seals?
For sure, sooner or later, most double-pane windows (gas filled) will develop a broken seal. The intert gas inside, argon or krypton, will leak out, get replaced by air, and that air will bring in condensation.
People often ask me questions as if I am "the" expert on everything. For sure I am not!
This colorful display almost looks like it has been painted from the inside for effect.
It has not.
This is a broken seal.
It's also a very large window! They aren't cheap to replace!
Can it be fixed? No.
There are some window manufacturers which guarantee their windows and will actually come to the house and repair a broken seal.
This window is not one of them.
What causes the seal to break?
- Wind can cause deflection of the glass.
- Pressure washing, a big no no.
- Putting on those stick-em-up, reflective window coatings.
- Some window cleaning chemicals can cause the glass to expand and contract.
- And, of course, plain old poor installation. This window is only seven years old.
- I've seen them fail because someone with a heat gun was trying to strip paint and hit the window's edge.
Fogging caused by a broken seal does NOT substantially affect the energy performance of the window.
Don't say that to the window repair company. They will tell you different. Of course.
To the right is a classic bull's eye pattern thermal image of a broken window seal. It's not too affected by the broken seal. As the window fills with air the two panes are drawn together, creating the bull's eye.
And if installed right, with proper insulation and framing, do you know what's every bit as efficient as a super-duper, double-pane window?
A single-pane window with an attractive storm window on the outside!
These two components create a pocket of dead air, which acts as insulation.
The cliched photos or drawings that I have seen of igloos have a round dome with a small door protrusion on one side. That protrusion has a seal on the outside and a second one on the inside. This creates a pocket of dead air - insulation!
The advantage of the single-pane and storm window combination is that there is no fogginess that develops between the two panes. And the combination is much cheaper.
So, what can you do with a broken window seal and fogginess between the panes?
Live with it or replace the window panel.
What would I replace it with? I think you know.
My recommendation: when it comes time to make decisions like this check around! We have the ability today to do substantial research and evaluate many opinions. Develop your own information and make your own decision! For a window this size the decision can get very expensive!
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC
Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.
Office (703) 330-6388 Cell (703) 585-7560