Volume 8, Issue 11 - December 2007

Protect the View

Bad to the Bone
Defining a Poor Window
by Mike Burk

Most of us in the window industry won’t look through a window until we spend some time looking at the window. We do this because we make it our business to build good windows that last. Windows can maintain a good view for many years—and we build products that will protect the view.

Because we work in the fenestration industry, we know what a good window looks like and how it performs. We can identify a bad window in an instant, especially if it’s not one of our own. We become an on-the-spot judge and jury and are quick to convict a window of being bad.

We have all heard words other than bad used to describe windows that have fogged, cracked, deflected, distorted, shattered or otherwise failed to protect the view. We’ve heard words used like cheap, junk, garbage and other descriptive words that we can’t print. For now, we’ll simply use the word “bad.” 

So what defines a bad window? It must be a simple definition if it only takes a few quick observations to determine, even though the problem may not be with the window. I’ve created a list of seven deadly attributes that can define a window as bad and condemn it on-the-spot.

  1. The greatest of these is internal fog. The cloudy view may be caused by moisture, volatiles, insufficient or incorrect desiccant or seal failure. In any case the view is blocked by a coating on the glass inside the IG unit that cannot be cleaned or removed. 
  2. Another at-tribute that can contribute to a window being labeled bad is frost or condensation on the interior side of the window. This can be a tough accusation to take, because it might not be the fault of the window itself. It may have just found its way into the wrong environment. The condition could be caused by ambient humidity, window décor or the wrong window design for the required performance. 
  3. Breakage is high on the list. The break could range from a small thermal or stress crack to a lite shattered by impact. Glazing methods, edge damage, thermal issues or handling might have led to the cracks. The selection of glass type might have prevented the impact damage.
  4. Sightline intrusion or grid alignment can be an issue. Customers expect the view to be framed perfectly. The picture is not perfect if the spacer system has crept past the sightline or the muntins are misaligned.
  5. Deflection of the glass can cause the view to be distorted. Insulating glass units that have experienced a severe change in elevation or were sealed before cooling can sometimes deflect giving the appearance of a fun house mirror.
  6. Damage to windows during the construction or the clean-up process will ruin the view permanently. Windows that have been scratched, scraped or pitted may have to be replaced.
  7. Poor or incorrect installation is obviously not the fault of the window. However, if the window is not installed correctly, the elements will infiltrate the building. The blame for damage caused to the interior of the building will be assigned to the window most likely.

In the future, this column will address some of the issues that can cause a window to be labeled “bad.” We’ll look at new ideas and methods in manufacturing, glazing, shipping, and installation that will help protect the view. 

Mike Burk serves as product manager for Edgetech IG. He may be reached at mike.burk@edgetechig.com. Mr. Burk’s opinions are solely his own and do not necessarily reflect those of this magazine.


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