“I just had new windows installed, and on that first really windy day, we could feel the air coming in even worse than our old panes, so what’s up with that”, or “when I hold a candle up to my new windows, the flame is flickering, so there’s got to be a leak somewhere, right”, are some of the comments we occasionally hear in the retail window biz.
Are these people delirious? Other than those who believe the Maple Leafs will not be playing golf in April, probably not.
However, getting what you requested, or what you paid for, may not have been exactly what you needed, based on location and/or on the direction to which the house faces.
In the case of a high wind, trees lose their branches, shingles fly off the roof, and anything that isn’t bolted into concrete is pretty well in danger of being toppled, or like a window, having its normally air tight seal compromised.
If an older window was better than its newer replacement at deflecting the force of a direct wind, it was either painted or swelled shut, or was of a different construction. Otherwise, today’s PVC or aluminum windows are definitely superior to those units of 15-20 years past.
Again, however, if the home you purchased had the best of casement (crank out) wood windows, and you’ve replaced them with the least expensive double hung (vertical slider) available on the market, then there could very well be a difference in certain areas of performance. In most cases, and unless the window frame is rotting, people replace the windows on their home because of operational difficulties.
Basically, if it won’t open properly, it’s time for a change. When buying new windows, it’s important to examine the various criterions regarding window performance, as well as price.
For example, you may like the look, general operation, and easy to clean ‘tilt-in’ features of a double hung window, but when it comes to wind resistance, it’s going to rank well below that of a casement.
In order for a window sash to be slid upwards without the homeowner dislocating a vertebrae, there’s a fine line between constructing a window sash that’s relatively air tight, but at the same time easily movable.
When ease of motion, looks, and cleaning options become primary requests, then performance against the elements can suffer. Because casement windows can be cranked shut, then further locked into position by a mechanism that tugs the sash even more tightly into the frame, equaling the wind resistance grade of a casement style window is going to be tough.
There are two formats that allow the consumer to compare window performance. They are the CSA-A440 test, and the Canadian ER (energy rating) system.
The CSA-A440 test grades a window on its air infiltration, water penetration, wind load resistance, and even its capability of resisting forced entry. So, be sure to compare the results of these tests between window types, and manufacturers, in order to get a true picture of the amount of bang you’re getting for the buck.
The ER system rates overall performance based on solar heat gain, heat loss through the frame, spacers, and glass, and air leakage in relation to heat loss.
ER is basically the plus/minus of the window world, whereby a plus number indicates that this specific window keeps more heat in, than it lets out.
The ER rating can often be boosted by investing in the superior triple-pane and double Low-E glazing systems. So, look at the ER rating before making your purchase.
That double hung or horizontal sliding unit may seem like a good deal, but if it’s a Dion Phaneuf (currently at -4) series window, with all the efficiency of a bus with two flat tires, you may want to consider spending a few more bucks on a Drew Doughty (plus 16) type model, which will at least give you the peace of mind that you’re getting full value for your purchase.