The other day while I was visiting a job site in Worland 82401, I watched with amazement as a framer quickly installed the windows into their openings. As I watched the units go in one by one I can honestly say the only installation instruction being followed was the use of a hammer and nails. I couldn’t help but think of the many service calls we receive each year and how the vast majority of these calls are the result of improper window installation. The question after seeing this first hand is how do you tell the framer the issues you are concerned with or worse yet tell a builder his warranty is void because someone couldn’t follow instructions. This is where I came up with the question, “rough framing or finish work?” Only you have the answer.
The art of installing a window today has in many cases been reduced to throwing the unit into an opening and nailing the unit with roofing nails through the nailing flange. I see this practice all to often and can assure you that the end user will never enjoy the windows true performance ratings when this type of installation occurs. It is my desire to make sure that the individual installing the window is well informed on the installation instructions so the end user is receiving everything I have told them to expect.
In the case I mentioned above, the windows had installation instructions attached directly to the unit. Whether it is Kolbe, Solaris or Andersen windows each have very similar instructions to ensure proper performance. Here are 3 key items I found on the installation sheet.
1. Prepare Rough opening: A level must be utilized, I know this sounds obvious but the framer I witnessed was not using a level. An eyeball line-up approach was being performed to ensure these units were installed correctly. The opening must be plum, square, level and in plane (NOT TWISTED). The individual construction members should not be twisted. It is critical that the sill plate beneath the unit is perfectly level for perfect operation. The opening also needs to be flashed properly.
2. Sealant Caulking: Regardless of perimeter sealing technique, the following steps are required: on clad units, when the nailing fin is required you must apply a 3/16″ bead of sealant along the head and sides in the valley created by the frame and nailing fin, making sure the corner pads are properly sealed to the frame.
3. Shims: This is something I see very little of these days. It became apparent there was a problem a few years ago while helping out our installed insulation department. I had the task of stuffing insulation around windows. The biggest thing I noticed was that there were no shims in any of the window openings. This was not just one home this was every home we insulated. Why is this a problem? For starters most double-hung units require shims between the side jamb and the rough opening at the check-rail. Without these shims the manufacture can void the warranty. A set of instructions I pulled from a vinyl window recently read as follows. Shims should be placed so as to assure that movements of the building are not transferred to the window. As you can probably guess, no shims, no warranty.
These are just a few of the possible pit-falls of installing windows. If you currently have few callbacks or issues with your windows working properly then you are fortunate to have the right individual installing your windows. If however callbacks are a regular occurrence for you or your supplier, perhaps its time to check into how they are being installed.
Window installation will entail a crew coming to work both inside and outside your property. Once the team finishes the project, you can enjoy the updated look of your house, and the lower energy bills both in the winter and in the summer. The team of professionals will need your assistance to enable them to complete their job.
Clear the areas of your home that are in the general vicinity of the job area to give the crew complete and unfettered access to the space. Move furniture in the paths between the areas of window installation in your house and the door so workers can move back and forth. Relocate furniture in front of or adjacent to the work areas.
Moving Outdoor Objects
The team will also need easy access to the outdoor areas around the installation site. If the project involves second-story work, expect the crew to use a scaffolding system to work in high places. Move lawn furniture, garden hoses, bird feeders, and planters out of the way. If you have landscaping in the direct area, call attention to plants and shrubs to help workers avoid damaging items. While they are likely to be cautious, it’s not possible to avoid all landscaping damage during this type of project.
Removing Window Coverings
Take all window coverings down before the project begins. Curtains, shades, blinds, valances, and shutters must be out of the team’s way. If you have exterior awnings installed, remove them. In general, it’s not necessary to remove hardware for hanging, but check to make sure it’s okay with the crew to leave these items in place.
A team of laborers moving in and out of your house performing window installation will likely bring in some dirt. To protect your home from soiling, cover the pathway between the door and the work area with drop cloths or tarps. You might also protect furniture in the vicinity with plastic coverings to avoid damage and dirt.
Pets and Children
Expect your house to be slightly chaotic on the day of window installation with many people moving in and out of your home. If you have pets that might slip out an open door, secure them in a locked room or in an enclosed crate to keep them safe. Supervise children closely to ensure that they don’t get too close to the crew and the work area.
If you won’t be home for the project, provide instructions for gaining entry to your property in your absence. These instructions may include leaving a key or providing security information for operating a keyless entry system.
The aesthetic and financial benefits of window replacement are many, so it’s likely that the preparation process will be worth the time and effort it takes. Once you finish and you restore order to your house, you can appreciate its updated appearance.