Windows (Part 3) — Beware of deceptive advertising and sales tactics, such as the ones described here

If you shop around for windows there are a couple of other windows advertising catch-phrases you’ll run across that are deliberately deceptive:

(1) “Our windows stand up to hurricane-force winds.”  The implication is that these windows are safe in a hurricane, or even that they meet the standards to be actual “hurricane code windows”.

Do not take that at face value.  The fact is that most (not all) new windows (even low-end new construction and single-pane with single-strength glass) are tested to withstand winds of at least 75 MPH, and the higher quality windows are tested to 110 MPH.  But these tests are simply giant fans blowing air directly at the windows, which does NOT duplicate the reality of being in a hurricane and does NOT qualify as “hurricane code”.  Why?  Because hurricane-related window damage is very rarely caused ONLY by the wind…. almost ALL of the damage is caused by DEBRIS that is being carried around BY the wind.

Just because a window has been tested to 110 MPH does not mean it will withstand a hurricane.  If you really want, and are willing to pay for, a true “hurricane-proof” window, you have to get a special window that is made to meet significantly higher standards for areas that are at higher risk for storms.  A window that is qualified for “hurricane code” means it has passed a very special impact test: a 2 X 4 is repeatedly shot at the window so that the end of the board hits the glass at 60 MPH.  And the window qualifies as hurricane code ONLY if both the glass and frame can withstand the impact.  These windows are more expensive, usually 50% to 200% above the cost of the same size standard replacement window.  Also,  coastal residents who have these hurricane windows are still required to board up, or have storm shutters on, every window in their house because in a strong hurricane there will likely be debris flying around at speeds significantly greater than 60 MPH.  So remember, standard replacement windows are NOT certified as hurricane code, and if a salesman represents them that way, ask him to point out the certification on the window, which will appear on the EPA label on the glass and the smaller label on the sides of the moveable sashes.

 

(2) “We’ll install 10 windows (any size) for $**** ” or “We’ll install these vinyl windows for just $*** each” 

Most window dealers can put together a package like this, but way too often such promises are remarkably transparent (but commonly used) misdirection and deception.  It works because it sounds true and simple, and it simplifies the cost question enough to get attention, and often that is all the enticement needed to get people to call and schedule an appointment so the salesman can get his foot into your door.  Then, the game really begins.  In most cases the salesman’s job is to “up-sell” you to get you to buy more features and services, or upgrade to a “better” window, or do a “bait and switch”.

Both of those simplified pitches are often different ways of saying the same thing.  Often the prices are for their lower-end windows, and are usually drastically scaled-down windows (often “new construction”) that do not meet Texas energy requirements.  They DON’T tell you that many required items (such as Low-E glass, argon gas, etc.) and optional items (such as grids, obscured glass, etc.), are NOT included in the price.  Plus, some windows are required by law to be the more expensive tempered glass, and oversized or geometric windows cost even more, so window prices are not uniform and those supposedly “fixed” advertised prices cannot be guaranteed.  Once the salesman tacks on the costs to make the windows legal, the final price will NOT be the advertised price… it will be significantly higher.

We have also found some companies’ “installed” price does NOT include the removal of the old window or the cleaning, repair and preparation of the wood frame to receive the new window.  Unless you have the tools needed to cut the fins off your old windows and remove them yourself, there is going to be an additional hefty charge for each window THEY have to remove, and they may not tell you until long after you have paid them your non-refundable deposit.

There is one other issue that has the very real potential to be very destructive to your home.  As explained in our previous articles, “replacement” windows must be attached directly to the load-bearing frame (the studs) inside the wall in order to hold it in place and properly seal it against leaks.  In most cases the installer is required to do what is called a “cut-back”, which means he has to trim off a little bit of the sill and/or the drywall or wood that is around the window inside the house in order to expose the load-bearing wood underneath, which is then cleaned and repaired.  The new window is then set into the wall from the outside so it can fit snugly against the studs and the edge of the interior drywall and sill that were cut back can butt up cleanly against the frame.  The installer then carefully caulks and touches-up around the window so the “cut-back” areas are completely unnoticeable and securely sealed against water and air infiltration.

But some companies try to save money by NOT doing the cut-back.  Instead, the salesman (not the installer) is the only person who measures your window openings and he measures only the interior surface dimensions, so the window he orders will be sized to sit ON TOP of the drywall and sill, leaving a layer of drywall squeezed between the new window and the load bearing wood.  This has serious and destructive consequences.  No matter how much foam and caulk is used around the outside of the window, the edge of the drywall is going to be exposed to the weather and will slowly absorb water.  And you know what happens to drywall when it gets wet… it wicks water into the rest of your wall and then it crumbles.  As a result, your windows will become loose and will no longer fit within the opening, and water will have infiltrated your walls and probably damaged the load-bearing wood.

Remember, many times when dealers offer bargains like this, they recover their profit by cutting back somewhere else, often in ways that will hit you hard in the pocketbook in the very near future.  Be careful, and use the information above to make sure you are getting a quality product and quality installation.

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