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The Benefits of Glass Replacement


"Thank you for your service. Our home sale closed Friday, and the windows looked great. I think of your tagline as "Responsive, Reliable, & Reasonable!" I'll be happy to refer future customers to you. I learned a lot from our conversations, and am a satisfied customer." --Maria D. Greenlake area of Seattle, WA  

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Q: I've gotten an estimate from another company to replace one half-moon window (with inner grids and low-e) and it was $600. I thought that was ridiculously high. Does it really cost that much?
A: There are six factors that add up to the cost of your medium-sized half moon window:
1. The basic (Installer) cost of the double-pane unit, which at roughly 46 x 24 is 7.7 sq/ft.
2. Double that cost due to the addition of grids
3. Add 25% more for Low-e
4. Add 50% more for custom shapes
5. Add the extra time/materials for the Installer to remove that half moon window in order to make a paper or wood template to send to the manufacturer, then to replace the old window in the frame and
6. Add the extra time to come back to the jobsite a second time to install the new unit.

(BTW, if the new unit is off by 1/8 of an inch, it might not fit and that expensive new unit gets tossed in the garbage and the Installer has to start over. That’s a lot of risk.)

As you can see, from the Homeowner’s viewpoint that one half-moon window is expensive. Yet, from the Installer’s viewpoint, $600 is barely breaking even on the job. This is why many Installers won’t even do one or two window jobs or they have to set minimum job prices. Custom shape windows will always be expensive. And one or two window jobs will always cost more per unit than they would if it was a ten window job. It all comes down to Economy of Scale.

Q: Why have my double pane windows failed?
A: All sealed double or thermal pane windows eventually fail. There is no such thing as a window that will last a “lifetime.” That is simply a marketing gimmick used by window replacement companies. A quality wood framed window that is well maintained (caulked and painted regularly) should last from 20-25 years. Aluminum framed windows routinely last 17 – 20 years, while vinyl framed windows may last 15 if they have quality spacers (see our Double Trouble article for more information about vinyl windows). The degree of exposure to sun and rain a window gets will determine its lifetime. Windows facing south or west will not last as long a windows facing north that do not get direct sunshine.

Q: What is safety glass and why do I need it? ?
A: "Safety glass" or “tempered glass” is glass that when broken breaks into very tiny pieces in order to minimize injury. All auto glass is tempered glass for instance. Standard glass can be deadly due to the large sharp spear-like pieces that are created when it breaks. The most common types of safety glass are Tempered, Laminated, Acrylic and Polycarbonate. Uniform building codes exist for specific applications for residential and commercial buildings to insure safety. Window Defoggers installs glass according to the required building codes in order to reduce your risk of harm or liability.

Q: What are the Building Codes for Tempered or Safety Glass?
A: Any window within two feet of a shower enclosure, or less than 60 inches of the standing surface of the bathtub/shower. Any window within 24 horizontal inches of a door AND within 60 vertical inches of a standing or walking surface. Any window greater than 9 sq ft AND within 18 vertical inches of a standing or walking surface, with the top edge of glass greater than 36 inches above a standing or walking surface OR within 36 horizontal inches of a standing or walking surface. (Exceptions: a minimum 1.5 inch thick railing in front of the window, 34 to 36 vertical inches above the standing or walking surface, capable of supporting a minimum of 50 lbs.) Any window within 60 vertical and 60 horizontal inches of a stair or step. Any sloped or overhead glass (eg; skylight) must be tempered.

Q: What is Laminated glass?
A: Laminated glass is a form of Safety Glass created by sandwiching a layer of Polyvinyl Butyral (PVB) between two pieces of glass. It is then heated and pressurized to firmly adhere the glass to the inner layer. Laminated glass is used in all vehicle windshields. When broken, the glass is held in place by the inner PVB layer and provides a high level of both safety and security.

Q: What is Tempered glass?
A: Tempered glass is a form of Safety Glass created by heating regular annealed glass then chilling it quickly to create an inner tension in the glass. This tension produces glass this is about four times stronger than annealed glass. However, when it does breaks, it breaks into small pea sized pieces than eliminate the deep wounding cuts caused by regular annealed glass. Tempered glass also withstands higher temperatures and quick temperature changes.

Q: What is an “IGU?”
A: IGU stands for Integrated Glass Unit. An IGU, double pane or thermal pane window is composed of 2 pieces of glass separated by a spacer, which creates a sealed air space between the two panes. Thermal pane windows are manufactured as airtight units that resist fogging due to desiccant in the spacer. It's the dry air space that creates the insulating properties that makes these units so energy efficient. The size of the air-space determines how efficient the window will be. A window with a 3/4" air-space will be more thermally insulating than one with a 1/4" air space. Other factors like Low-E or tinted glass can also increase energy efficiency.

Q: Are all double pane/insulated windows filled with gas or Argon?
A: No. Most dual pane windows are simply filled with plain air. This provides a dry sealed air space which reduces heat transfer. Argon gas is less conductive than air and nitrogen and in extremely cold climates can result in a noticeable difference in heat transfer. In warmer climates like Seattle, however, the additional cost of Argon gas is not as beneficial or even necessary.

Q:What is Low-E and what does it to for my windows?
A: Low-E stands for Low-Emittance. Low-E coatings are invisible, microscopically thin metallic oxide layers deposited on an inner window or skylight surface primarily to reduce radiative heat transfer entering or exiting the window. Low-E can reduce the heat transfer in a window by up to 60% over a non Low-E window. The difference can be often be felt by warmer rooms in the winter and easier to cool homes in the summer.

Q: Is it possible to repair a failed foggy window without taking out the entire frame?
A: Absolutely. Many people don’t know the difference between Window Replacement and Glass Replacement. Window Replacement is replacing the entire window, frames and all, down to the rough openings. Glass Replacement leaves the frames intact and only involves replacing the glass (IGU) part of the window. All window frames from wood, aluminum or vinyl are designed so that the glass units can easily be removed and replaced without removing the frames. .

Q: How long does it take to get my foggy windows fixed?
A: From the time we order your new glass units to the day we install them is typically one to two weeks.

Q: Can you repair my wood window frames without replacing the whole window?
A: Yes! We can repair wood window frames at a fraction of the cost of replacing the whole frame. We remove areas that have rotted and replace the wood in the sash at the same time that we replace your glass. Then we caulk your wood window frame to protect it and the glass from moisture. You just need to repaint and make sure that you recaulk regularly.

Q: When you repair my wood windows, will the frames look the same as my old ones?
A: Yes! Usually it's just the sash that needs repair in a wood window. That's the part of the wood window frame that holds the glass. The outer frame that you makes up the bulk of the frame remains the same. We try to match the wood so when we repair your wood window sashes everything looks the same as before.