Tag: window maintenance

  • Spring Maintenance Musts

    Courtesy of BobVila.com

    Courtesy of BobVila.com

    It's finally spring! And the better weather can also reveal some home maintenance work that needs to be done. However, spring chores don't have to be miserable.

    Follow this simple routine, courtesy of BobVila.com to check everything off your home maintenance list:

    Roof

    With binoculars and a keen eye, you can generally spot roof problems. Cracked or missing shingles should be replaced, and if you see any shingle-shift, it may mean you need to install new fasteners. Look also for buildup of pine needles and other debris in those valleys between roof peaks.

    Exterior Walls

    Whether you have wood siding, stucco or brick, look for damaged areas, especially under eaves and near gutter downspouts. Water stains normally indicate that your gutters are not adequately containing roof runoff. With wood, check for any damaged areas or openings that clear the way for carpenter ants, woodpeckers and other critters.

    Chimney

    If you have a masonry chimney, check the joints between bricks or stones. Have any fallen out, or is vegetation growing? Both can be evidence of water infiltration. Efflorescence, a white calcium-like deposit, is another sign of trouble.

    Foundation

    When inspecting poured-concrete foundations, keep your eyes peeled for cracks. If cracks in the foundation exist, routine caulking won’t do the job. You'll want to hire a foundation specialist, who can employ a two-part epoxy injection system that will bond those cracks chemically.

    Windows

    Leakage around windows will admit warm summer air and let cooled indoor air escape, so be sure to check that any caulking and weather stripping you have in place has remained intact. If you experienced condensation inside the glass on double- or triple-glazed windows during the winter months, that could mean the weather seal has been compromised, in which case either the glass or the window will need to be replaced.

    Spring-clean your windows—inside and out—with a store-bought or homemade window cleaner (one cup rubbing alcohol, one cup water and a tablespoon of white wine vinegar will work just fine). Apply cleaner with either a squeegee or a soft cloth. If screens were on all winter, remove and clean them with mild detergent. Lay them on a dry surface (e.g., a driveway) to air-dry before putting them back on.

    Attend to Leaks

    Spring is a good time to check for leaky faucets, clogged drains and sweaty pipes. Check under kitchen and bathroom sinks to make sure connections on pipes and hoses are secure and sealed. Look for water stains around the dishwasher and check washer machine hoses for cracks, bulges or dampness.

    Air Conditioning

    Just as you readied your furnace for fall, now is the time to make sure that air conditioning units are in good working order for the warmer months ahead. Change the filter, check hose connections for leaks, and make sure the drain pans are draining freely.

    Attic

    Search for signs that insects and critters have colonized. Also, search aggressively for mold, which often takes the form of gray or black blotches. Proper insulation and good ventilation will deter mold growth in the attic, so take action now to prevent the problem from developing in the warmer months ahead.

    Basement

    Dampness in a basement suggests higher-than-normal relative humidity, inadequate ventilation and the need for a dehumidifier. Check the base of poured-concrete walls for cracks and evidence of water penetration. And use a flashlight to examine exposed framing. If you see what looks like tunneling on the wood, call a pest control company.

    Decks and Patios

    Look for warped, loose or splintered boards, and do a good sweep to remove any leaves and debris that might have accumulated between boards. If the finish on your wood deck is faded or worn, now is the time to clean, stain, and reseal it. If you have composite decking, follow manufacturer's recommendations on seasonal care.

    Exterior Specialties of PA is here to help with all of you exterior wall maintenance, roof maintenance, roof repair, window repair and window maintenance needs. Call us today at 215-453-9180 for your FREE estimate!

     

  • Energy-Efficient Window Replacement Options

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    Choosing the right window replacement is a very important decision, as it will greatly impact your energy costs for years to come.  Relatively new window technologies such as low-e glass, smart windows and electrochromic glazing, can provide you with options that didn't exist 5-10 years ago.  They target the two largest energy uses in commercial buildings — lighting and space conditioning.

    Here is some information about Low-E glass and Electrochromic Glazing, courtesy of FacilitiesNet:

    Oldest of the "new" technologies, low-e glass uses an ultra-thin metal oxide coating to maximize performance. Although the coating itself is not visible, it limits solar heat gain while transmitting light. Depending on a facility's location, facility managers can choose low-e glass that admits more solar heat gain (in heating-dominated climates or for passive-solar use) or limits solar gain (for cooling-dominated climates). According to DOE, low-e windows generally cost 10 to 15 percent more than regular windows but can reduce energy loss by as much as 30 to 50 percent.

    "Low-e technology provides a good and reliable means for improving insulating glass performance," says Michael Louis, a senior principal at the engineering firm Simpson Gumpertz & Heger.

    A newer option is known as dynamic glazing. What it does is simple but dramatic: It changes color to control the amount of sunlight that enters a space.

    In the most common type of dynamic glazing — electrochromic glazing — the presence or absence of electric current in the coating renders the window opacified or clear.

    Electrochromic coatings are a nanometer-thick, multi-layer film, says Stephen Selkowitz, department head, building technologies, environmental energies technology division at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories. "Transparent conductors form the outer layers of the stack, an active electrochromic and passive counter-electrode layer form the middle layers, and an ion-conducting electrolyte layer forms the center portion of the stack," he says. The glazings can be manually or automatically controlled. The technology does have a small delay in most uses, from several seconds to several minutes.

    Electrochromic technology relies on a network of wiring and controls that runs into and out of the glazing pockets of window (or curtain wall) assemblies. The installed system has to accommodate that network while maintaining weather-tightness for exterior applications. The network also has to be maintained once the building is in operation.

    "[Electrochromic glazings] are new to the market and finding niche applications," says Ray McGowan, senior manager at the National Fenestration Rating Council. "This technology may realize market gains in the near future." Currently, many applications are for interior spaces.

    One reason McGowan says he believes in the promise of dynamic glazing is because of its potential for solar heat control. "Dynamic glazing enables precise solar heat gain coefficient control to limit heat gain during high cooling periods and increase heat gain during heating periods," he says.

    Another dynamic glazing option — thermochromic — relies not on electricity to determine opacity or translucence, but on solar radiation. This technology uses a tinted thermochromic layer that warms up and darkens in direct sunlight.

    Exterior Specialties of PA is here to help with all of your window replacement,  window installation and window repair needs. Call us today for your FREE estimate at (215) 453-9180.

     

     

  • Get Window Privacy Without Losing Light

    Courtesy of House Logic

    It's nice to have a lot of natural light in your home, but if you live close to your neighbors,  it may feel like any one can look into your home.  Here are some tips, courtesy of House Logic, on how to get some moe privacy without sacrificing the natural light in your home:

    Spray-on window frosting

    Available in aerosol cans at hardware stores and home improvement centers, spray-on frosted finishes ($4 to $10 for a 12-ounce can) coat window glass with a translucent or opaque frosting that blocks views but allows light in.

    One can of spray coats about 35 sq. ft. of glass — enough to coat 2 average-size windows. White is popular, but other translucent colors also are available.

    Be sure to clean the interior surface of your window before applying the spray. Work in a well-ventilated area and apply as several thin, even coats to avoid drips. Spray-on frosts can be removed by scraping the window with a blade.

    For windows and glass doors where total privacy isn’t necessary, such as the glass surrounding an exterior entry door, use the spray with stencils to create designs that look like they’re etched onto the glass.

    Window films

    Opaque and translucent vinyl films ($25 to $125 for a 3-by-5-ft. window) cling to the interior glass surfaces of your windows. You cut them to fit with a utility knife.

    Window films come in a variety of opacities, patterns, colors, and even “stained glass” looks. Some frosted films contain glass dust that shimmers for a look that mimics real frosted glass. Other energy-efficient window films provide benefits in addition to privacy, such as reducing UV rays and preventing energy loss or solar gain.

    Peel-and-stick window films cling to window glass with static electricity — a surprisingly dependable method. Properly applied, these films will remain in place for years, yet they’re easy to remove. You can even reapply them to other windows.

    Adhesive-based films are a permanent privacy solution and can’t be removed. Installing them requires a special kit; once in place, they must be carefully cured for up to 8 days. Adhesive-based films ($20 to $40 for a 2-by-3-ft. piece) have better energy-saving properties than static-cling films, and they last for the life of the glass.

    Before installing any film, you’ll want to make sure the window glass is clean and free of dust or smudges. That way, you won’t get bubbles and other imperfections.

    Replacement windows

    For window privacy, especially inside a shower or above a bathtub, a glass or acrylic block window is another option. The texture of the blocks obscures the view while allowing in an optimum amount of light.

    Because of their weight, glass block windows usually are fixed in place and inoperable. However, they’re typically less expensive than an acrylic block window of the same size. Glass blocks are also available in colors, and with etched- and frosted-glass finishes.

    If you prefer an operable window, select acrylic glass block, which is 75% lighter in weight than glass block.

    Glass and acrylic block windows are available pre-assembled and set into a frame for installation like a standard window. A 2-by-2-foot acrylic block operable casement window sells for about $450, uninstalled.

    If you prefer a more traditional look, an energy-efficient window with decorative, translucent glass (similar to a leaded glass window), costs $400 to $600 for a 3-by-5-ft. double-hung window.

    Chemical etching

    Although etching cream is a good option for frosting small amounts of glass, such as on glassware or a mirror, etching an entire window with cream isn’t recommended since it’s nearly impossible to achieve consistent opacity over a large area of glass.

    Exterior Specialties of PA is here to help with all of your window installation, window repair, window maintenance and window replacement needs.  Call us today at  (215) 453-9180 for your FREE Estimate!

  • Is Your Home a Candidate for Skylights?

    Skylights can be a fun way to bring some more light into your living space.  However, they can cost big bucks to install.

    Here are some questions you should ask yourself, courtesy of House Logic, before you decide if skylights are right for you:

    • Is your roof framed with trusses? Truss framing is typically 24-inch on-center, which accommodates a 2-foot-wide skylight (they’re actually 22.5 inches wide). However, if you need to cut into a truss for a wider skylight (they can range up to 4 feet wide and 6 feet long), you’ll have to hire a structural engineer to spec alternative framing. Costs for engineering run from $300 to $500.
    • Is the attic space clear? Once you have an idea where you’d like to add a skylight, check the attic for any HVAC, wiring, or plumbing in the way.
    • Will you need a chase? A chase is a framed tunnel that channels light from the skylight through your attic space to the ceiling below. Typically it’s finished with drywall and painted. Because it’s complex to build, it adds about $1,500 to a professional installation. Note: If you have a cathedral ceiling, you won’t need a chase.
    • Will a skylight suit the architectural style of your home? In many ways, a skylight is a neutral element that blends with most styles, but it may affect the curb appeal of an older home.
    • Can a solar light tube do the job as well? At less than 20% of the installed cost of a skylight, a solar light tube can illuminate an area of 200 to 600 sq. ft.

    Costs of adding a skylight

    Unless you’re a highly skilled DIYer, leave this job to the pros. You’ll want an experienced installer to ensure your skylight doesn’t leak. Installation cost for a 2-by-4-foot skylight runs from $2,000 to $3,000. Here’s how the costs break out:

    • Cut a hole in the roof and alter the rafter framing: About $500.
    • Install and flash the skylight: With asphalt shingles, expect this stage to cost about $500 — figure 20% to 30% more for metal or tile roofing.
    • Build a chase from the skylight to the interior ceiling: Estimate $1,000 to $1,500.
    • Repaint the entire ceiling beneath the skylight: Plan a minimum of $250 if you hire a pro. If you have an open-plan home, budget for more.

    Skylight features

    Even the least expensive skylights come with insulated glass and UV protection. A fixed skylight costs $150 to $500. However, manufacturers offer many options for controlling the amount of light and enhancing ventilation:

    • A venting skylight that opens manually using a hand crank runs $300 to $600.
    • An electronically controlled venting skylight that opens and closes with a remote control costs $600 to $1,000; including a rain sensor that automatically closes the skylight adds $200 to $300.
    • Built-in mini blinds let you fine tune the amount of light. They operate by means of a stick crank or remote control. Blinds cost $200 to $400.

    Exterior Specialties of PA is here to help with all of you window installation, window maintenance and window repair needs. Call us today at (215) 773-9181 for your FREE estimate!

  • Criteria When Getting New Windows

    Windows are extremely important for both the aesthetics and efficiency of a home. However, there are so many criteria for choosing windows that it is easy to forget the end goal.  Some of the most important aspects to consider when selecting a window, according to FacilitiesNet, are:

    • Resistance to wind loads
    • Resistance to water infiltration
    • Air tightness to prevent drafts
    • Resistance to condensation on the interior of the windows
    • Security and emergency egress
    • Light and ventilation
    • Appearance that enhances the overall design
    It is important to not get caught up in the latest designs and trends because many times, these trends haven't stood the test of time yet.
    New state-of-the-art products or components can fail, go out of style or simply go out of production because of poor sales or poor function. Products or components that have not experienced the test of time under field conditions may result in failures that were not demonstrated in laboratory tests. The simplest window design that meets all of the established criteria is usually best. To obtain a more objective opinion, temper the advice and sales pitches of product representatives with recommendations from designers and users of the product.
    While it's easier said than done, price should not be the primary factor in selecting windows.  According to FacilitiesNet, "Settling on the cheapest window product can lead to low durability, poor performance, water leakage and increased or difficult maintenance. This also holds true for the associated materials and work to provide the proper interface between the window and the wall."
    Exterior Specialties of PA is here to help with all of your window repair, window replacement and window installation needs.  Call us today at (215) 773-9181 for your FREE estimate!
  • Prepare Your Home for Winter

    Putting a little bit of money into your home to prepare for winter will keep you warmer and make your energy bills lighter.

    Caulking and weather stripping are the best ways to save energy without putting too much money down, according to House Logic:

    Weather-stripping can be done by a painting contractor, a window installation contractor, or any handyman firm and is usually bid by the job or by the window.

    It is also recommended that you increase attic insulation if the joists are showing through the old insulation.

    You can also get storm doors installed, primarily in the most drafty areas can save you up to 8% of your energy, according to House Logic.

     

  • How to Hurricane-Proof Your Windows

    Since Hurricane Sandy may show up by early next week, it's important that your family and your home, particularly your windows, are prepared to weather the storm.

    Here are some tips on how to Hurricane-Proof your windows before the storm comes, courtesy of House Logic:

    Add hurricane window film

    Tough, clear plastic hurricane film is popular because you can’t really see it, and you can leave it in place year-round. If the glass breaks, hurricane film prevents glass shards from zipping around inside your home.

    If you’re an average DIYer, you can install peel-and-stick hurricane film on your windows for a mere $25 per linear foot. As a bonus, the film blocks ultraviolet light that can fade carpets and fabric.

    The downside to hurricane film—and it’s a big one—is that the film isn’t strong enough to stop hurricane winds from blowing in the entire window frame. That’s why most insurance companies don’t offer discounts for hurricane film and why you should also shield your windows with plywood.

    Shield windows with plywood

    Good old plywood is one of the building industry’s toughest materials, and is hard to beat for storm protection. Some tips for using plywood to shield your windows:

    • Cut sheets of 1/2- or 5/8-inch-thick plywood. Make sure you overlap window frames by a good 8 inches all around.
    • Use heavy-duty screws and anchors (in wood) or expansion bolts (in masonry) to attach the plywood to your home’s walls (not the window frames).
    • Pre-install screw anchors around window openings to speed up installation.
    • Store shields in a handy location where you can reach them easily and put them up fast.
    • Keep your cordless battery charged so it’ll be ready to use when a storm is coming.
    • Keep extra flashlights and batteries handy in your home. It gets very dark inside once the plywood is installed.
    • Expect to spend $1 to $2 per square foot if you do the work yourself and $3 to $5 per square foot if you hire someone.

    Add storm shutters

    Because roll-up or accordion-type storm shutters are permanent, they’re a snap to deploy when a storm comes. All you have to do is pull the shutters into place before a hurricane to prevent damage and broken windows.

    If you’re skittish about being in the dark, look for shutters that have perforations or are made from tough translucent fiberglass that lets in light.

    Expect to spend anywhere from $10 to $50 per square foot for professional installation of storm shutters, depending on style and material.

    Install high-impact glass windows

    The great thing about windows with high-impact glass is that they’re always in place, ready to beat back anything hurled by hurricane-force winds. These brawny buddies are made up of two panes of tempered glass separated by a plastic film. They come in standard sizes and shapes so they won’t make your home look like a Brinks truck.

    Expect to pay three times as much for a window with high-impact glass as for a regular window of the same size and type.

    Ask about home insurance discounts

    To encourage you to take steps to minimize damage, your insurer might offer discounts for hurricane-mitigation improvements. In Florida’s Miami-Dade County, for example, the annual insurance premium on an older home insured for $150,000 runs between $3,000 and $8,000, assuming no hurricane-mitigation improvements. With improvements, such as storm shutters or high-impact glass, the same home would cost between $1,000 and $3,500 to insure.

    Also, here are some general tips, courtesy of House Logic, to prepare your family and home for a hurricane:

    • Make a grab-and-go bag with family finance and medical essentials like: Prescription and over-the-counter medicines, one change of clothes for each family member, a back-up drive from your computer, a copy of your home inventory, and a flash drive with copies of important documents like insurance papers, birth certificates, deeds, tax returns, passports, and drivers licenses.
    • Trim up your trees and shrubs to make them less vulnerable to summer storms.
    • Is your sump pump working? Replace it if it isn’t.
    • Load the phone number for your insurance agent and the company’s claims line into your cell phone.
    • Price a flood policy, especially if you live in a flood zone.

    Exterior Specialties of PA is here to help with all of your window installation, window repair, window replacement, and window maintenance needs.  Call us today at (215) 773-9181 for your FREE estimate!

  • Picking the Right Replacement Windows

    Courtesy of Joel Sartore/National Geographic/Getty Images via AARP Home

    There are many things to consider when replacing your windows: materials, budget, energy efficiency, finding the right contractor...The list goes on.  It can prove to be quite a headache.   Here are some tips, courtesy of AARP Home, to consider when replacing your windows:
    • Define and prioritize your goals for replacement windows regarding energy efficiency, maintenance reduction, noise control, security and appearance.
    • Gain at least a basic understanding of the properties, costs and tradeoffs associated with various replacement systems (PDF),materials (PDF) and glazing options.
    • Don't assume that national name-brand windows are better than lesser-known brands. Buy only replacement windows rated by the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC). Also look for products certified by the American Architectural Manufacturers Association(AAMA). Use NFRC performance data to compare specific window models.
    • Resist unsolicited sales presentations. Seek estimates only from local dealers/installers with solid track records who can provide credible references.
    • Shop around. Don't be pressured into making a quick decision by today-only price offers.
    • Check dealer claims about your eligibility for window replacement tax credits.
    • Before installation begins, compare the brand and model numbers of the windows brought to your home with those listed on the contract. If your installer obtained the windows from a dealer, ask to see the installer's order sheet.
    • Don't make a big down payment. Make sure the payment schedule stipulated in the contract allows you to maintain leverage throughout the installation process. As always, don't make a final payment until the project is completed to your satisfaction.

    Exterior Specialties of PA is here to help with all of your window replacement, window repair, and window installation needs.  Call us today at (215) 773-9181 for your FREE Estimate.

  • Choosing the RIght Windows for Your Home

    Courtesy of Pella Windows and Doors

    Are you in the market to replace your windows? Here is an article that is extremely informative on all of the window choices out there and how to choose the ones that are best for you, whether that be vinyl, fiberglass, aluminum, wood or other options.  Choose what's best for your style and your wallet with these helpful tips.

    http://www.diynetwork.com/windows-walls-and-doors/windows-buying-guide/index.html

    Exterior Specialties of PA is here to help with all of your window replacement, window repair, and window installation needs. Call us today at (215) 773-9181 for your FREE estimate!

     

  • Poor Window Maintenance Increases Cost

    Yes new energy efficient windows are a good way to save on energy costs, but it doesn't stop there. Maintaining these windows is almost equally important in factoring their efficiency.

    According to FacilitiesNet,

    When properly maintained, windows can be expected to maintain their solar and thermal properties throughout their 30- to 35-year service life.

    So, it stands to reason that if you don't maintain your windows properly, your windows will have a much shorter service life, which will end up resulting in early window replacement.

    Window manufacturers are constantly trying to up the ante and improve upon window efficiency. Check out these innovations courtesy of FacilitiesNet:

    One of the new technologies available today is the motorized shade. When used as part of a building’s daylighting control, the units can provide an easy way to minimize solar heat gain in rooms with southern exposures. Controls for the units can be interfaced with room lighting controls or centralized building automation systems to regulate both light levels and solar heat gain.

    One of the most promising developments is the “smart window.” Smart windows use a small electrical voltage to change the light transmission properties of the glass. Depending on the technology used, the windows can vary from translucent to reflective. By connecting the windows’ control to a building automation system, the properties of the window glazing for entire areas or buildings can be regulated to minimize heat gain or to maximize the use of daylight.

    Exterior Specialties of PA is here to help you with all your window maintenance, window repair, window installation and window replacement needs. Call us today at 215) 773-9181 for a FREE estimate.