Can Beautiful Windows Be Maintenance-Free?
Tried of maintenance chores
Kathleen Strachan knew it was time to upgrade the appearance of her two-story, ranch style home in Eden, New York. Against wind chills down to -50Âº F and summer heat approaching 100Âº F, her single pane, wooden windows had reached the end of their lifespan and she was tired of all the scraping, caulking, painting and maintenance they required.
"Each spring we'd check the damage, then spend every weekend fixing it," says Strachan. "We couldn't let the weather get the best of us, or it could lead to rotting, molding and serious maintenance issues."
Not only had sunlight faded the color of her windows on one side of the house, but the windows tended to fog up, making a clear view outside difficult to achieve.
Attempting to resolve these challenges, Strachan replaced her living room picture window with a double pane, aluminum framed window, but was soon disappointed with the results. The window caulk and trim molding yellowed, the window stuck in its track, and drafts blew the curtains even with the window shut. "The day after I bought it, it never looked or worked the same again," she laments.
A window technology called Bristol Windows offered by Saltsburg, Pennsylvania-based Winchester Industries, caught her attention. The triple-paned, replacement window design with warm-edge thermal spacers, proprietary inert gas mixture between each pane of glass and multiple heat reflective coatings was engineered to minimize the temperature differences that cause energy-loss, window fogging and moisture condensation. Moreover, its unique vinyl clad frame combines the aesthetics of a durable, vinyl coating over a strong aluminum sub frame. This provides the structural stability required to withstand all weather extremes while eliminating corrosion and rotting commonly attributed to all-aluminum and wood windows.
Strachan also found the vinyl-clad triple-paned windows complemented the look of her home. She chose a decorative, colonial style-grid pattern for an upstairs picture window overlooking an acre of backyard. Adding to her comfort was the professional installation that was performed by an exclusive Bristol Distributor.
"The house looks 100 percent better and I have a crystal clear view through my windows no matter what the weather" says Strachan. "There's no fogging or condensation, so I can see the reds, oranges and yellows of fall leaves and even snowflakes. Since there's been no maintenance on the windows for two years, I've finally had the time to put in new landscaping."
Maintenance-free peace of mind
Jim Yeater's two-story Victorian style home in Clarksburg, West Virginia needed windows with a form, fit, and function that his existing aluminum paned units simply weren't providing. They did not complement his historic 18-inch thick brick and stucco walls, aesthetically match his wrap-around porches and high ceilings, nor did they function flawlessly.
The windows' hard to use locking mechanism once used to open, close, and seal the windows against inclement weather, had broken. The bright white window frames and sash were now blackened with rust and oxidation. Water stains made seeing through the windows difficult and they frequently fogged up so he could hardly see through them.
"To keep the windows open, we had to prop them open with a stick, and they wouldn't lock or seal properly" says Yeater. "There were so many moving parts that something was bound to go wrong, and it did."
The windows were also difficult to open. "We needed two people pulling on one to get it opened" says Yeater. "God forbid we had a fire and had to open one quick -- I have kids in the house."
Yeater found that the dual-framed triple-pane Bristol Windows met his family's aesthetic, thermal and maintenance needs. He chose white PVC vinyl clad frames and sashes that gave him a clean, non-corroding material of vinyl and an aluminum sub frame that would withstand shape loss. The marriage of the two materials would provide the best of both worlds.
A unique slider window design makes the windows capable of swinging in for easy cleaning and sliding open and shut for ventilation. A single lift handle made of a strong, durable material developed for NASA easily operates them. The slider windows easily slide on a minimum of 12 brass tandem wheels per sash, or double hung style windows open inward with a block and tackle balance system.
A 50-year transferable warranty on the windowsâ€™ glass with a 3-year breakage clause, a written energy savings pledge and a home security guarantee provides added comfort.
"The windows have kept their clean, new look for two years now and are so much easier to use" says Yeater. "Anyone can open or close the windows with just a few fingers and we've had no maintenance issues. That gives our family peace of mind."
A clear, safe view
When Natalea Kandefer bought her Buffalo, New York, split-level home overlooking Lake Erie, the inspector told her the house was great but the windows needed attention. The windows were cracked, the screens gummed up and she found it virtually impossible to clean the windows on the upper level due to a metal awning that obstructed outside access.
"The lake view was one of the reasons we'd bought the house, but cleaning the windows was so difficult that the view wasn't much to look at," says Kandefer.
Kandefer's solution: she now cleans her windows from inside her own home, due to her new dual-framed triple-pane Bristol replacement windows' ability to tilt-in the top and bottom sashes.
"I can clean both sides of the Bristol Windows without going outside or leaving the room," explains Kandefer. "We now have a clear view of Lake Erie and the city skyline, and I can even see ducks and paddleboats below."
Dangerous Cleaning Eliminated
For Mary Ann Meisner, cleaning the windows of her Craftsman-style bungalow in Lincoln, Nebraska was not only cumbersome but also dangerous. She had to climb a stepladder to unscrew storm windows and keep her balance while also managing a bucket of cleansing fluid.
"I didn't like cleaning the windows, but they became dingy if I didn't," says Meisner. "It was easy to lose balance, especially if the ground was uneven."
Since Meisner put in dual-framed triple-pane tilt-in windows, she no longer has to drag a heavy stepladder outside for precarious window cleaning chores.
"I just swing the windows inside and wipe down both sides from inside the house," explains Meisner. "It's much faster, safer, and easier on my body."
Although maintenance-freedom is a important goal for many homeowners, the triple-paned design of some replacement windows, such as Bristol Windows, can also produce a large amount of energy savings. Where competitors, double-paned windows typically put a common inert gas known as argon between the panes, Bristolâ€™s triple-paned replacement windows have two air spaces filled with their own proprietary mix of thick inert gases that act as a dual thermal insulator. Bristol adds high-tech heat reflective layers and a warm-edge spacer system that creates a ultimate thermal shield that does a much better job of slowing the transfer of cold in or heat out -- thus halting the flow of heating and cooling dollars out the windows.
A complete selection of aesthetic, virtually maintenance-free, triple-paned, replacement windows by Winchester Industries are sold under the names of Bristol, Oxford, and Barricade. For best results, energy savings and comfort, these windows must be professionally installed. The company is looking for new dealers in certain U.S. regions to round out their national presence.
For more info, visit the website www.winchesterwindows.net; call 800-689-5432; email [email protected]; or write to Winchester Industries at PO Box 160, 500 Leech Ave, Saltsburg, PA 15681.
By Del Williams, a technical writer based in Torrance, California.
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