What I'm Seeing Now


The Good, The Bad ... And The Handsome!

Truly, we have here the good, and the bad ... and the handsome!

This is a 25 year old house, with original windows.  Older windows can develop lots of problems with opening and closing properly, or sealing tightly, or the fabled broken seals.

Double pane windows are composed of two panes of glass put together as a unit with some kind of a seal.  Between the two panes of glass an inert gas, typically argon or krypton, fills the space to provide energy efficiency.

Over time the seal can break.  When it does the gas dissipates.

Here is where it gets interesting when viewed with a thermal camera.

The window on the right is good!

It's two panes are properly sealed and there has been no gas depletion.

The pane on the left is bad!

The seal has broken and the gas has dissipated.

But look at what happens. 

As a result of the broken seal the two panes are drawn together, and rather uniformly, even on a sunny day when there is not much difference in temperature between indoors and out.  As the gas dissipates negative pressure is created and the space becomes more and more empty of gas.  Air does not fill the void.  Condensation can develop between the two panes, and there can look to be perspiration and cloudiness.  In this case you could see no evidence of a broken seal except with the camera.

The thermal pattern that results has been called The Bull's Eye.  It is a typical thermal image pattern with failed windows.

So, we have the good and the bad.

I promised you the handsome.

Walking through a door in this same house the windowless room was dark and I felt an immediate chill.

Turning to my left and pointing Mighty Mo, which sees in the dark, I picked up this image!   The camera immediately focused and there he was!

A ghost!  A really handsome ghost!

I think he's smiling!  Admiring him and wondering who does his hair, I couldn't resist and snapped his image!  Through his nose you can see right into his cold, cold head.  Sort of frightening!  But we are near Halloween, so it wasn't entirely unexpected.

My recommendation:  oftentimes you cannot see when a window has a broken seal, but with a thermal camera the windows that do come alive!  In this house there were five or six with broken seals, and given the age of the house more windows will develop broken seals with time.  Interestingly, the thermal camera also reveals that a broken seal does not affect the temperature efficiency of the window panes that much.  But the ugliness of what can develop in the panes, in terms of cloudiness or condensation can be bothersome.  And the handsome ghost?  Well, he follows me around everywhere.  I call him Mosby.




Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560


Comment balloon 15 commentsJay Markanich • October 28 2015 12:21AM


 Good Wednesday morning Jay. I have noticed this as well when I have used my thermal camera. Interesting isn't it?

Posted by TeamCHI - Complete Home Inspections, Inc., Home Inspectons - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.029 (Complete Home Inspections, Inc.) over 3 years ago

Broken seals are a proiblem in many inspections here...and many homeowners do not realize the importance or even see the problem.

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) over 3 years ago

Good morning Jay. Nothing hides from Mighty Mo! Pays to get a professional home inspection! Enjoy your day!

Posted by Wayne Martin, Real Estate Broker - Retired (Wayne M Martin) over 3 years ago

I am sure we have some broken seals in my windows -- I'm going to have to find someone with a "Might Mo" to check them out!

Posted by Kat Palmiotti, The House Kat (Grand Lux Realty, Monroe NY, 914-419-0270, kat@thehousekat.com) over 3 years ago

Good morning Jay,

At least he is smiling with the negative pressure in the sinus region!

Make yourself a great day.

Posted by Raymond E. Camp, Licensed Real Estate Salesperson Greater Rochester (Howard Hanna Real Estate Services) over 3 years ago

Unfortunately I have the dreaded broken seal on two windows in my house.  Since the house is 24 years old, I am expecting a few more in the years to come.

Posted by Stephen Weakley (Nationwide Mortgage Services) over 3 years ago

Those "panes" could be a real PAIN  !

Posted by DEANNA EARLY - - ( NMLS # 268590 ), Highest Ranked Mortgage Loan Originator Virginia (American National Bank & Trust) over 3 years ago

Michael - I have a Bull's Eye post about every year, but this is my first image where a good window is beside a broken seal window!

They are S&D.  The newer windows have a different kind of efficiency and will not do that.

Wayne - he is a fun fellow to be with.  That ghost fellow too...

You can do it without a camera Kat.  Put a piece of ice on the interior pane and see if condensation develops.



Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 3 years ago

Raymond - I think Mosby is a big ham, but don't tell him I said that.

Stephen - as a crystal ball watcher I can predict that more are in your future.

Deanna - yep!  No matter how you spell it!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 3 years ago

I always get annoyed when sellers think the fix to this problem is to replace the glass  that is stained from condensation.  The only fix to a window with a broken seal is a new window.

Posted by Chris Ann Cleland, Associate Broker, Bristow, VA (Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA) over 3 years ago

Of course just the glass is not enough Chris Ann.  If they are Anderson windows the company will come by and actually drill a hole and fill the space again with argon.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 3 years ago

Jay- we had that problem with a few of our sliders in one of our homes. And if you're buying a home it helps to have your Might Mo to see just how many, if any, windows need replacing. 

Posted by Kathy Streib, Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224 (Room Service Home Staging) over 3 years ago

Thanks Kathy.  And love the avatar!  You'll have to tell me about the hand in the trailer...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 3 years ago

Jay  , I have been way behind in catching up on your great blogs!! SOOO interesting that the the seal deterioration does not impact the temperature (did not know)...what happens here is NO home inspector has these thermal image cameras...it is a shame...needless to say if a buyer sees a condensation build up in the window they want it fixed.

btw, your advice on my direct vent tankless hot water heater was so helpful & I found a plumber who got it & fixed it!

Posted by Ginny Gorman, Homes for Sale in North Kingstown RI and beyond (RI Real Estate Services ~ 401-529-7849~ RI Waterfront Real Estate) over 3 years ago

Service with a smile Ginny!  I may be wrong from time to time, but I am always honest.  Seal deterioration does affect temperature somewhat, but not efficiency that much overall.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 3 years ago

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