From Margaret Everton on June 09, 2009 in Window Replacement
Photo credit: FAS Windows and Doors
Whats the weakest link in a homes thermal shell? You guessed it windows. Even the most modern homes can suffer from window leaks. Thats why one of the first steps you can take to improve your homes efficiency overall is to install replacement windows. But where to start?
Dan Wolt, President and Founder of Zen Windows, stopped in to provide the answer. Dans been in the business for 23 years, and his company has serviced all of Ohio for the past 12. You can bet his advice is solid. The following steps cover everything from glass selection to navigating energy efficiency levels to screening a potential window contractor.
- How do I decide what type of glass to buy? Dan: The most important thing when it comes to glass is to make sure it is manufactured by a glass manufacturer that has been in business for at least 50 years. Also, make sure the glass has either two panes or three panes and is coated with low-E coating on every piece of glass.
- How do I decide which window frame material to choose? Dan: Make sure that the window frame has fusion welded corners and an I Beam construction (the same one used for building bridges) as opposed to a chemical weld, which will break over time. Even worse is a mechanical weld, which consists of screws holding a window together.
- How do I pick out the energy efficiency level? Dan: You can either go to the Energy Star website or my website explains it all. Most importantly, when speaking with your window reps, ask them for copies of materials on the glass packages and for energy efficiency ratings. Photo credit: HomeWorks
- Is there a simple way I can predict costs? Dan: No. Every home is different, so every installation procedure is going to be different. On top of that, although windows may look the same, each and every one is built differently and has a multitude of options. You can get a window installed for $150 or $1500 and theyre going to look the same; the difference is in how well its installed and how well its manufactured, so its really difficult to predict cost. On top of that, there are two types of windows. One is a stock window, such as a standard 48 by 48. The other is the window you should be buying: a custom made window. You should buy a window to fit your home, not buy a window and make your home fit into it. This can harm your home, and it can be very intrusive when you start tearing apart walls. It might also end up costing you more.
- How do I determine which window shape is most suitable for the room I’m remodeling? Dan: If you are replacing an old, existing window, you want to match your new window to the exact degree of the window currently in there so as not to be intrusive to your home and get into unnecessary damages. If you want to put a window into a wall that does not have an opening, the potential window shape is completely in the eyes of the beholder. Aesthetically speaking, you can do anything, as long as you have the right installer.
- How do I decide on a window contractor? Dan: Its very simple. There are 3 easy steps: 1. First and foremost, make sure that the contractor is not taking a down payment. A contractor taking a down will teach you that 1, the contractor will take your money and not come back (worst case). 2, the company is capitalized. If it needs $1,000 to $2,000 to get a job going, it might not be in business that much longer. 3, if you give a down payment, once the contractor has profit in his back pocket, youre held hostage to when the job is installed. 4, withholding a down insulates you from having anything wrong with project. If a contractor is willing to wait, youre insulated knowing it will be done perfectly or you dont pay. 2. Make sure that the window that you are purchasing has been manufactured by a company that has been in business for at least 30 years because if a manufacturer goes out of business, there goes your warranty. 3. The rest comes down to comfort level. Make sure youre comfortable with who youre dealing with. Do a Google search. If you put Dan Wolt Zen Windows in there, youll see that everything that comes up is positive.