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1) With the recent health concerns regarding plastics that include the chemical Bisphenol-A (BPA), can it be found in vinyl products as well?
BPA is found in polycarbonates as a result of how they are made and the chemicals involved. Polyvinyl Chloride or PVCs (the industry name for vinyl) do not contain BPA as a byproduct. Vinyl in its finished form poses no known health risks.
2) What are the advantages and disadvantages to choosing windows made of the various materials available?
Just as there are no easy answers to which car is best for any individual, the same can be said for windows. Basically, there are four building materials that are available to be used in the fenestration of windows; vinyl, fiberglass, wood, and aluminum. Out of these materials, vinyl is by far the most economical choice, especially when considering the low-maintenance nature of the material. In combination with an energy performance that is not far off than that of wood, vinyl windows are an extremely attractive choice for most consumers. Fiberglass windows tend to be sturdier than vinyl windows, while offering the same properties as well as being an easy material to treat with colors and textures. A fiberglass window can cost as much as a wood window however and does not have the ability to be welded like its vinyl counterpart. Wood windows have the obvious advantage of being aesthetically pleasing to most consumers and are easy to be treated or painted to a person’s liking. In addition to how it looks, wood windows offer excellent thermal performance and structural integrity. Despite the appeal of wood windows, they also tend to be the most costly residential windows on the market and require the most maintenance. In addition to vinyl, fiberglass, and wood, windows are often made of aluminum. This is not often encouraged with residential applications since they are by far the worst thermally performing windows when compared to the other three. On the other end of the spectrum they are also the most structurally sound windows you can get making a favorite with commercial applications that often require windows to meet certain architectural ratings. The cost of aluminum windows also make them impractical for most residential homes.
3) How do I clean my vinyl windows?
Vinyl windows are low-maintenance by nature, but they are not maintenance free. Like anything else they can get dirty. Using a soft cloth or ordinary soft bristled brush, you can clean the window with a mild surface cleaner. DO NOT use cleaners containing aggressive organic solvents because they could affect the surface appearance of the vinyl. This includes chlorine bleach, liquid grease remover, strong soaps and detergents containing organic solvents, nail polish remover and furniture polish/cleaners. The following cleaning solutions have also been suggested by the Vinyl Window and Door Institute to clean various stains. Fantastik can be used for stains caused by Bubble Gum, DAP (Oil Based Chalk), Felt-tip Pen, Grass, Lipstick, Lithium Grease, Mold/Mildew, Motor Oil, Rust, and Top Soil. Murphy Oil Soap is effective for stains caused by Bubble Gun, Grass, Lipstick, Lithium Grease, Motor Oil, Rust, and Top Soil. Soft Scrub is good for stains caused by Oil, Pencil, and Tar. Windex can be used on stains caused by Bubble Gum, Grass, Lithium Grease, Mold/Mildew, Motor Oil, and Rust. A simple solution of 30% vinegar and 70% water can be used for Bubble Gum and Mold/Mildew stains. Crayon stains can be removed with Lestoil and Paint can be removed with a Brillo Pad.
4) What is Low-E?
Low-E refers to the type of glazing used in a glass package. Although the construction of the extruded frame, spacer in the IGU, and the addition of either Argon or Krypton Gas can all contribute to the energy performance of a window, there is no greater contributor to the overall performance than the actual glass that is used. Most manufacturers these days now use what is considered Low-E glass. Low-E refers to glass that has been chemically coated in its manufacturing process to give a better thermal performance. This extra step gives the window a huge jump in energy performance when compared to the same window with clear glass.
5) What does a U-Factor have to do with me?
The U-Factor or U-Value of a window measures the thermal transmission, which determines how well a window prevents heat from escaping a home or building. The lower the U-Factor, the better a window retains heat. In other words, the lower the number, the better the window will insulate in the cold. This is one of the two most important energy ratings used to establish the criteria for the Energy Star program. The other rating used is the Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC).
6) What does the Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) have to do with me?
The SHGC of a window measures the rate of heat gain, which determines how well a window blocks heat from the sun. The lower the SHGC, the better a window does against unwanted solar heat. In other words, the lower the number, the better the window will protect against the heat from outdoors. This is one of the two most important energy ratings used to establish the criteria for the Energy Star program. The other rating used is the U-Factor.
7) Who are the NFRC?
The National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) is a nonprofit organization that administers an independent, uniform rating and labeling system for the energy performance of windows, doors, and skylights. The testing of these products is done independently and is reported directly to the NFRC. NFRC labels certifying certain levels of energy saving performance are required to participate in the Energy Star program.
8) How does Argon and Krypton Gas work?
Argon and Krypton Gas are the most common gasses used to fill the insulating layer between the panes of glass in an IGU. These gasses are used because they are more dense than the air we breathe making them better insulators. Krypton Gas is slightly denser allowing for a better energy saving performance rating than Argon Gas. Despite the better performance gained by using Krypton Gas, Argon Gas is more commonly used. It is more abundant than Krypton Gas making it much more affordable and gives only a marginal worse performance than Krypton Gas. Neither gas is toxic.
9) Why do the sides of the IGU in my window look like they are creeping in?
The air or gas between the panes of glass in your window can vary greatly. When air/gas is warm, the volume will expand and conversely when it is cold, the volume will contract. As a result of this expanding and contracting, your window pane will actually flex to accommodate the changes in volume. The creeping in effect is an unfortunate effect that is a result of extreme contracting pulling in the seal on the IGU. This is not a common occurrence and does not affect the performance of your window. Feel free to contact our service department if you would like to discuss your options for glass replacement.
10) Why is there condensation on my windows?
Condensation is a result of the humidity in the air coming in contact with a drastically different temperature surface causing it to turn back to a liquid or solid state (i.e. water or ice). In this case, your window’s surface temperature may be a lot closer to the cold temperature of the weather outside than the warmth from inside, causing the moisture to form on the window pane. The best way to eliminate excess moisture in the air is by providing better ventilation. Ironically, with better methods of insulating a home to provide a more controllable environment, builders have made fewer areas for the excess moisture to ventilate. In other words, our windows are protecting much better against drafts, but it is these drafts that helped prevent against condensation. Ultimately, it is not the windows that cause condensation, thus the problem cannot be solved by purchasing new windows or “fixing” the existing window. If the condensation is forming in between the panes of glass, it is likely that there is a seal failure in the IGU. In this case, please consult our service department to review your options.
11) What does warm edge mean?
"Warm edge" refers to the thermal reaction that occurs at the edge of the IGU, specifically between the panes of glass, spacer, and window frame. The lower the energy loss between the inside and outside of the window, the warmer the edge. The spacer plays a large part in the sightline temperature of an IG, thus the importance of the warm edge spacer.