Three Key Features to look for when shopping for vinyl replacement windows
August 04, 2010 07:44
This guide pinpoints three specific features to look for when comparison shopping vinyl replacement windows.
You’ve decided on vinyl as your material of choice for your new replacement windows. Unfortunately, not all vinyl windows are created equal. There are many components and processes that can be used to manufacture a vinyl replacement window. This guide pinpoints three specific features to look for when comparison shopping vinyl replacement windows.
A window’s mainframe can be considered the most important part of the window design because it provides the structural integrity of the window. All homes experience constant shifting and movement during their lifetime. To combat these movements, look for windows with fully-welded frames. Windows that are mechanically fastened, or chemically glued, or not fully welded are structurally weaker and can bend or crack during temperature changes and movement.
Next, inquire about the quality of the vinyl used in the window profiles. Ask your contractor if there is a significant percentage of “regrind” or recycled vinyl in the frame. Windows utilizing a significant amount of regrind are weaker because chemicals are added to increase the recycled vinyl’s strength.
Lastly, does the vinyl replacement window have a proper drainage system? A weep system channels water away from the window and your home reducing water infiltration.
Insulating Glass Systems
Glass makes up almost 80% of a window and dictates a window’s thermal performance. Look for windows with double or triple glaze glass packages with Low-E coatings with Argon or Krypton gas fills. Low-E glass contains microscopic coatings that act like a filter. In summer, the Low-E glass allows ample visible light to pass through while blocking infrared solar energy, keeping your rooms cooler. In winter, the glass helps to keep rooms warmer by reflecting heat back into the home while letting warm, solar rays enter. The results are simple... lower energy costs! Plus, Low-E glass blocks damaging UV rays, helping to reduce fading of carpet and furnishings in your home. Insulating gases, such as Argon or Krypton, can be added to the air spaces in glass units. Both gases are denser than air and prevent the formation of convection currents, reducing heat transfer between the inside and outside of your home. This improves your home’s comfort while lowering your heating and cooling bills.
If purchasing the market’s most popular style, double hung vinyl replacement windows, the type of balance system used is the major factor in the ease of operation of the window’s sashes. A balance system applies tension to the sash keeping it in the desired position and enables the sash to easily operate up and down. The three major types of balance systems that are available include the constant force balance, the spiral balance, and the block and tackle balance.
The constant force balance works by utilizing a rolled coil steel spring to counter balance the weight of a window sash. The amount of coils used in the constant force balance system is determined by the weight of the sash, requiring single, double or even triple coils.
The spiral balance relies on tension applied to a spiral rod inside a balance tube. Tension is applied by turning the spiral rod that extends out from the bottom of the tube counter clockwise. As more revolutions are applied, more tension is applied to the spring enabling it to counter-balance the weight of the sash. As the weight of the sash increases, more turns on the balance are required resulting in increased pressure on the internal spring. This pressure can make the window sash difficult to raise and lower, weaken the balance and eventually cause balance failure resulting in top sashes dropping down and bottom sashes not staying up.
Block and Tackle Balance Systems are more advanced in their design and technology than in years past. Today, Block and Tackle Balances are considered a Weight Management System. The system works by using a series of pulleys to convert minimal stretching of a coil spring into the required amount of sash travel.
Block and Tackle Balance Systems use composite cords to connect the coil spring to the balance shoe. This composite blend is used in mountain climbing ropes and other high-tension applications. Plus, Block and Tackle Balance Systems never need lubrication or adjustments to assure they are working properly.
This Weight Management System is engineered to counter balance the exact weight of each sash. On average the block and tackle balance has a 40% lower operating force than the spiral balance.
So when comparison shopping for vinyl replacement windows, look for a window system that features fully-welded frames and sashes, high-performance insulating glass packages and a block and tackle weight management system. When these three features are combined, you can rest assured you are purchasing a window system that will provide you years of strength, comfort, energy savings and ease of operation.