Tag: window inspection

  • Prevent Your Pennsylvania Windows From Frosting


    Courtesy of HuffingtonPost.com

    On cold days frost can form on your glass doors and windows.  Here is a way, courtesy of HuffingtonPost, to keep the frost away.

    To keep your windows or sliding glass door from frosting over on the coldest days of winter, wash them with a mixture of one quart warm water and half a cup of rubbing alcohol. Now you'll be able to see clearly, even if it's too cold to actually venture outside.

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

  • Energy-Efficient Window Replacement Options


    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.



  • 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!

  • 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.


    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.
  • Window Terminology

    Buying windows is hard enough. Understanding all the window jargon that comes with shopping for windows is even more confusing. Here is some window terminology and definitions, courtesy of  the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, to help you make the right decision about your windows.

    Components of a window

    Windows consist of the following components: (see figure 1)

    • frame
      • sill
      • head
      • nailing flange
      • mullion
    • glazing
    • sash
      • stile
      • rail
      • hardware

    Figure 1 - Components of a window


    The horizontal and vertical portions that surround the sash and on which it is hung comprise the frame. Frames are usually made of the same materials as the sash. Window frames may be manufactured with or without nailing flanges. Frame and sash design and construction are important for both energy efficiency and appearance. Several materials are commonly used:

    Wood frames have high insulating properties and can be painted or stained any colour. They require ongoing maintenance to prevent moisture damage. They are usually less expensive than frames made of other materials.

    Clad wood frames have the advantage of wood’s natural insulating qualities, but they require less maintenance. The cladding is usually aluminum or vinyl, available in limited colours. Moisture problems can be reduced if the cladding is applied properly to the wood. If moisture gets trapped between the cladding and the wood, damage and rot can occur unseen.

    Aluminum frames are strong and durable, but they readily conduct heat. To avoid heat loss and condensation, aluminum frames are required by the National Building Code of Canada to have a thermal barrier inside made from rigid foam, polyurethane or wood, to reduce heat transfer. While aluminum frames are durable and require little maintenance, they have poor insulating properties. Some aluminum frames have mitred joints in the corners, which can allow water to leak into the wall if the joints are not properly sealed or the seals fail.

    Vinyl frames are available in two types.

    1) Extruded vinyl frames incorporating internal air cavities

    2) Reinforced inner structure of another material–wood or metal. Wood is preferable because it has better insulating qualities than metal.Vinyl frames are very durable, and low maintenance–they can resist colour fading, moisture, termites, corrosion and air pollutants. The material can be easily shaped into the required dimensions. Vinyl windows provide “good” insulating properties– even “excellent”, if the cavities in the sash and frame are insulated.

    Fibreglass frames are relatively new. They are light, durable and strong, even in narrow sizes, they have excellent insulating qualities, and they do not expand and contract with heat and cold as much as other frames. They are also more expensive than other types of windows.


    The glazing: (or glass) can be a solid sheet of glass, or several panes divided by a ’mullion”.A mullion is a secondary frame that holds the window-panes in the sash. Some glazings are made of tempered glass, to resist breakage, and some are made of laminated glass, which not only reduces breakage, but if the window does break, the glass shards will be too small to cause injury.

    Double-glazed windows have two layers of glass separated with a spacer. It is the minimum standard allowed by the National Building Code of Canada. Air trapped between the glass layers provides some insulating value.

    Triple-glazed windows have three layers of glass, or two layers with a low-emissivity (Low-E) film suspended between them. The additional layer and air space give triple glazing better insulation value than that provided by double glazing. It is a good choice where extremes in weather and temperature are the norm. Triple-glazed windows can help reduce sound transmission where outside noise is a problem, but because the sash is heavier it may be more difficult to operate than a double-glazed sash.

    Glazing Technology

    Low-emissivity (Low-E) consists of a thin layer of metal oxide applied to the exterior face of the interior glazing in a double-glazed window. This coating allows sunlight to pass through, but blocks heat from escaping. A double-glazed low-E window provides similar insulation value to that of a triple-glazed unit, but costs less and weighs less. Low-E glazing filters out the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays, which can fade furnishings; and can reduce condensation on the window by keeping the indoor surface of the glass and frame warmer.

    Inert gas fills are another innovation in window technology. Air is replaced with argon or krypton, between the panes of glass in a sealed unit. Inert gases have a higher insulating value than air because they are denser and have lower thermal conductivity, resulting in lower heat transmission between the panes of glass. Argon is the most commonly used gas due to its availability and low cost. Gas fills are a cost-effective upgrade over conventional air-filled glazings.

    It is possible to get different coloured glazings to reduce solar heating and provide glare control. This technique is normally only seen in commercial or multi-residential highrise buildings. Films can be purchased to reduce glare from the sun, although glare can also be reduced through plantings outdoors, window awnings or shutters. Tinted films should be applied by a qualified contractor, as the application process requires some skill and special tools.


    Windows come either fixed or operable (openable). Fixed windows do not open. Operable windows have a sash, which is a unit assembly of stiles and rails for holding the glass that moves when the window opens. They are available in a variety of sliding or hinged models. The sash can be made of wood, vinyl, metal or fiberglass and should make a tight seal with the frame when the window is closed. However, if the seal is too tight, the operable portion of the window may be difficult to operate.

    Hinged models:

    Hinged on one side and swings open like a door. This design provides the best seal and has the lowest air leakage for a window that opens.
    Hinged at the top and opens out from the bottom. With an effective seal, this design minimizes air infiltration.
    Hinged at the bottom and opens in or out from the top. An effective seal minimizes air infiltration.

    Sliding models:

    Horizontal slider
    Horizontal sliders: Consist of two sashes, one or both of which slide horizontally in the frame. They are the least energy-efficient of the window types listed here, and the most prone to air and water leaks.
    Single-hung windows: include one fixed sash (usually the top one) and one that moves up and down in the frame.

    Double-hung windows: include offset upper and lower sashes, which can both move up and down in the frame. Both the singleand double- hung windows are not as energy-efficient as awning or casement windows, but their appearance may be more appropriate to the style of the house, especially in the case of older homes.

    Tilt and turn
    Tilt-and-turn (also called dual-action) windows: Swing from the side or pivot from the middle. Others pivot from both the bottom (like a hopper) and the side (like a casement). This allows for cleaning the outside of the window from the inside of the house and can be a valuable feature if a window is in a location where it’s difficult to get at from the outside. Be sure to have an effective weather seal for this type of window.

    Spacer bars:

    These appear around the perimeter of the sealed glazing unit to provide uniform separation between the panes of glass in multiple-paned windows. Spacer bars are typically made of aluminum, but spacers made of less conductive materials are now available. A high-performance/warmedge spacer can increase the energy efficiency of a window, provided that the frame is made of insulating materials (warm-edge spacers are less effective on metal-framed windows).

    Spacers incorporate a dessicant that absorbs moisture from the trapped air in the space between the glass preventing fogging and condensation. Should your window fog, it means the seal is broken.


    This consists of the moldings that surround the window and cover the frame.


    The hardware used in an operating window may include hinges, latches, cranks or levers. For security, some windows may have locks. The crescent-shaped locks are standard on many single- and double-hung windows.


    Weatherstripping is a component of an operable window, and provides a seal between the window-frame and the operable sash. It is used to prevent air leakage, and the better the weatherstripping, the better the window performance. There are two categories of design:

    Wiper or Brush-type seals (sometimes called “mohair”) are more common in sliding windows, and wear out more quickly due to the type of window operation. They are also more likely to be used for exterior weather seals, and can tear easily if the window is opened when the seals are embedded in ice or frost.

    Compression seals (sometimes called “bulb”) are also more fragile in cold weather, and can crack if the seal wall is too thin or the window is operated during very cold weather.

    Weatherstripping is generally the most vulnerable component in an operable window, as it receives the most wear and tear. The seals should be checked annually for signs of wear or damage, and replaced as necessary.

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

  • How to Decide When You Should Replace Your Windows

    Replacing your windows can be a costly and time-consuming ordeal, so before you decide to go through with it, here is a checklist to help you to decide when is the right time, courtesy of FacilitiesNet.

    1. Is the existing window system structurally adequate and does it accommodate building movements and structural loadings? If not, it's probably time for a replacement. This is critical from a safety as well as a performance standpoint.
    2. Is the system effective at controlling water leakage, moisture migration, or unwanted air infiltration?
    3. What is the condition of the system components? Check the frame, sash, glazing, hardware, weather stripping, sealants, and exterior paint or other surface coatings.
    4. Is it possible that the adjacent wall system is contributing to the problems experienced? If that’s the case, it may be time to do some wall renovation instead of replacing the windows.
    5. Is the building historically significant? If so, there may be a few more hoops to jump through in selecting particular window products.

    It is important to assess whether the benefits of replacement outweigh the benefits of repair/maintenance. By judging the above five aspects of the window, hopefully you can decide which would be beneficial.

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