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How to Properly Maintain and Clean Your Storm Windows

Storm windows play a crucial role in a house by providing an extra layer of protection against harsh weather conditions. While constantly preventing these elements from directly impacting the interior, providing an extra layer of insulation and keeping you comfortable indoors, windows are prone to degradation. Neglecting their maintenance can lead to various issues, such as reduced energy efficiency, increased utility bills, and an overall decrease in the comfort of your living space. 

Investing a little time and effort into regular maintenance and cleaning will enhance the longevity of your storm windows and ensure a more pleasant and energy-conscious home environment. In this guide, we will provide you with simple and effective steps on how to clean storm windows and why you need to maintain them regularly. 

The Benefits of Regular Maintenance

Extend Lifespan of Windows: 

Like any other part of your home, storm windows require care and attention to ensure longevity. Regular maintenance aids in identifying and addressing minor issues before they transform into more significant problems, such as air leaks, water infiltration, or malfunctioning mechanisms. You prolong the lifespan of your storm windows by addressing these issues promptly, ensuring they continue to protect and enhance your home for years to come.

Preserve Your Aesthetics: 

Some storm windows offer additional benefits, such as UV protection. You protect your furniture, flooring, and belongings from harmful ultraviolet rays by properly maintaining these windows. This protection helps prevent fading, discoloration, and damage, preserving the aesthetics and integrity of your interior furnishings.

Maintain Comfortable Temperatures:

When you keep your storm windows in good shape, they act like a cozy blanket for your home. They prevent cold drafts from sneaking in during winter and help keep your home cooler in the summer. This means you can enjoy a comfortable indoor temperature without feeling the need to adjust your heating or cooling systems frequently.

Preventing Costly Repairs: 

Wind, rain, and snow can be tough on your storm windows. The upfront investment of time and effort in regular cleaning and maintenance pays off in the long run by saving you from the financial burden of extensive repairs or premature replacements. 

For example, by routinely checking for any damages, you can address minor issues before they escalate into major problems. Simple tasks like cleaning away debris or fixing small cracks can prevent larger, more costly repairs. Additionally, by ensuring that your storm windows are properly sealed and functioning efficiently, you reduce the risk of energy loss, which can lead to higher heating or cooling bills.

Easy Operation:

Lubricating moving parts during maintenance ensures smooth operation with reduced friction and wear on mechanical components. This makes opening and closing your storm windows easier and extends their overall functionality.

Clear and Unobstructed Views: 

Over time, dirt, dust, and debris can accumulate on your storm windows, obscuring your view of the outside world. Regular cleaning and maintenance ensure that your windows remain transparent and clear, allowing you to enjoy the beauty of nature and your surroundings without any hindrance.

Damage Possibilities With Storm Windows

Structural Deterioration:

Your storm windows are like defenders for your home, and the wind and snow act like tough opponents with sharp swords. However, when dirt, leaves, and water accumulate on your windows, these elements can contribute to the window’s degradation. Moisture near dirty windows can lead to rot in wooden frames, causing bending and weakening. This deterioration may also loosen the seals, creating openings that compromise the protective barrier. These openings allow drafts, moisture, and outside elements to infiltrate, making your windows less effective in shielding you from the weather. Regular cleaning is crucial to avoid these issues and ensure long-lasting performance.

Hardware Issues: 

Hinges, latches, and other hardware may rust and malfunction if not properly maintained. Rust and corrosion weakens the metal, making it fragile and resulting in challenges when opening and closing the windows or, in severe cases, complete failure. Weak metal may cause windows to wobble in the wind, creating a risk of falling. So, it’s important to check and fix any loose screws, rusty hinges, or damaged latches to keep your windows strong and secure.

Risk of Water Damage:

Irregular inspection of storm windows may develop openings like gaps, cracks, or loose seals. During rain or snow, water can seep through these openings, creating a risk of damage to walls, floors, and the structure itself. Additionally, it creates favorable conditions for mold growth, which harms your property and your health. 

Tools and Materials Needed for maintenance and cleaning

  • Vacuum and a Soft Brush 
  • Bucket of Warm Water
  • Mild Detergent (Such As Dish Soap)
  • Sponge or Soft Cloth
  • Squeegee (similar to a window wiper)
  • Dry and Clean Towel or Rag
  • Ladder (for high windows, you should always have assistance available)

Maintenance and Cleaning Tips

Cleaning Storm Windows: A Step-by-Step Guide

Step 1: Safety is Crucial 

If your storm windows are high, you will require the assistance of an adult while using a ladder. Carefully inspect the ladder, whether or not it is stable and secure. Wear nonslip shoes and, if possible, have someone hold the ladder while on it. Keep in mind that safety is more important than everything else.

Step 2: Remove The Window From The Frame

If your storm windows can come off, take them out carefully. Put them on a flat surface covered with a clean towel or cloth to keep them safe from scratches. If they can’t be removed, just clean them where they are.

Step 2: Get rid of  Loose Dirt and Debris 

Before you begin cleaning the windows, use a soft-bristled brush or a vacuum to eliminate any dirt or debris from the surface of the glass. It should be soft because we do not want to scratch the glass. Brush away any dust, leaves, or spider webs you encounter. 

Step 3: Use Soapy Water 

It’s time to make your storm windows shine! Mix warm water with a gentle soap. We need warm water because it helps the soap dissolve, making a good cleaning mix. 

Take a soft cloth or sponge and dip it in the cleaning mix. Gently clean the storm window glass all over, including the edges and corners. Keep washing the cloth or sponge in clean water often to prevent dirt from piling up on it.

Step 4: Time to Squeegee

After your windows have had a soapy treatment, it’s time to clean them. Begin from the top of the window and drag the squeegee all the way to the bottom. To avoid streaks, move in a steady, continuous motion. The squeegee removes all of the water and soap from your windows, leaving them clear and streak-free.

Step 5: Allow to Dry

Almost finished! Wipe away any remaining water drops with a fresh, clean cloth. Wipe off the borders and the frame, as they need to be dry and clean. Take a moment to check your work. Your storm windows should now be completely crystal clear, allowing more light in and providing a better perspective of the outside world.

Check for Repairs:

Storm windows can get little cracks, or the frames may start to get loose. So, watch out for any small changes. If you see a crack, something loose, or anything that seems strange, tell an adult. Fixing small problems early is important. It keeps your windows in good shape, and windows that are in good condition are easier to keep clean.

Seasonal Upkeep:

Before Winter:

When the cold winds start blowing and the days get shorter, it’s time to get your storm windows ready for winter. Cleaning them thoroughly is not just about making them attractive but also making your home cozy and warm. Cleaning your storm windows before winter helps them do their job better, keeping your home insulated from the cold.

Clean windows also let more sunlight in, brightening up those short, gray days. Don’t forget to check the seals around your windows. Make sure they are tight and in good shape. This is really important because it keeps the cold and warm air out.

After Spring:

After the lovely springtime with blooming flowers comes the season of pollen. Once spring is over, it’s a smart move to clean your storm windows again. If you or someone in your home has allergies, removing the pollen on your windows can be really helpful. Cleaning your windows after the pollen season keeps them clear, allows more sunlight in, and makes your home a happier, sneeze-free place.

Conclusion

Keeping your storm windows clean is like a multi-step process, and each step is equally important. Follow the steps carefully, and your windows will look great, making your whole home feel cozy and welcoming. It’s an easy job that should be done regularly to keep your place comfy and attractive.

Now, sometimes, there might be repairs that are a bit tricky and cannot be fixed on your own. That’s when you call in the experts, like ‘The Window Depot.’ They have a skilled and experienced team who can fix or replace your windows perfectly. So, if you ever need a hand, they are the ones to call!

 

How can Energy-Efficient Doors Save You Money? + Benefits Beyond Savings?

Your HVAC systems are working correctly, but why are energy bills rising? What could be the possible reason behind that? Let’s find out…..

Doors allow conditioned air to escape your home, forcing your HVAC system to work harder and consume more energy to maintain the desired temperature. Even small gaps around doors significantly impact your energy bills. Is having energy efficient doors in your home a possible solution? 

Do such doors exist?

Absolutely.

The doors are available in varied materials and have certifications that prove their productivity. Being different from a traditional door, an energy-efficient door benefits in fixing your bills and saves you money. How? Let’s go to know…….

What are Energy-Efficient Doors?

Energy-efficient doors are designed to minimize energy loss and improve the home’s efficiency. These doors have features and materials that help prevent air leakage, maintain indoor temperatures, and reduce excessive heating or cooling.

Key features of energy-efficient doors typically include:

  • High-quality insulation to decrease heat transfer
  • Tight seals to prevent air leakage
  • Multi-pane glass for better thermal performance
  • Energy-efficient cores and materials
  • Low-emissivity coatings to reflect heat

Elements of Doors Contributing to Energy Conservation

  • Insulation

Pivotal in optimizing a door’s efficiency by upholding indoor temperatures and curbing energy loss. Typically situated in the door’s core, insulation integrates purposeful materials to curtail heat transfer and thwart air leakage. Here are some common materials used:

  • Foam Core: 

Certain doors incorporate a foam core, a feature that accentuates insulation efficacy by blocking heat transfer and barricading against air infiltration.

  • Insulating Materials: 

Premium insulating materials like polyurethane or polystyrene frequently populate the door’s core, significantly elevating the thermal efficiency door’s performance.

  • Frame

A door’s efficiency relies heavily on its frame, pivotal for maintaining structural integrity and preventing energy losses when well-designed and correctly installed. The frame’s precision ensures a tight seal, minimizing air leakage and enhancing insulation, key factors in optimizing the door’s energy performance.

  • Energy-efficient Glass

Often found in doors with windows, energy-efficient glass plays a crucial role in enhancing the overall efficiency of the door. Let’s see how it contributes to a door’s efficiency:

  • Low-Emissivity (Low-E) Coatings: 

The glass incorporates Low-E coatings, effectively reflecting heat into the room during winter and preventing excessive heat from entering during summer. This ensures a consistent indoor temperature.

  • Multiple Panes with Insulating Gas:

It is designed with multiple panes separated by insulating gases such as argon or krypton. This configuration minimizes heat transfer, mitigates condensation, and improves thermal performance.

  • Visible Transmittance (VT): 

The visible transmittance of energy-efficient glass is carefully calibrated to allow natural daylight into the building while managing heat gain and loss. This optimization shortens the reliance on artificial lighting during daylight hours.

  • Weatherstripping 

Weatherstripping is essential in improving a door’s efficiency by preventing air and water infiltration. Know how – 

Employing rubber, silicone, vinyl, or metal weatherstripping creates a secure seal around the door perimeter. This tight seal prevents drafts, minimizes air leakage, and improves home energy savings, maintaining consistent indoor temperatures and alleviating the strain on heating and cooling systems.

Benefits of Energy-Efficient Doors Beyond Saving Bills

  • Longevity of Doors

Investing in energy-efficient doors translates into a durable and lasting solution, addressing several aspects that contribute to their extended lifespan:

  • Material Resilience:

Energy-efficient doors often feature resilient materials like fiberglass, steel, or solid wood. These materials are chosen for their ability to withstand the test of time, providing a robust defense against environmental stresses.

  • Enhanced Weather Resistance:

Crafted to resist harsh weather conditions, energy-efficient doors are less prone to issues like warping, bowing, or deterioration caused by exposure to rain, sun, or temperature fluctuations.

  • Low Maintenance Demands:

The quality of materials and construction benefits of energy-efficient doors leads to lower maintenance requirements. These doors are designed to be easy to care for, limiting the need for frequent repairs or refinishing.

  • Improve Indoor Air Quality

  • Air Leakage Reduction:

The doors are a barrier against outdoor pollutants and allergens, helping maintain a cleaner and safer indoor air quality. Reducing air leakage also contributes to energy conservation with doors by stabilizing indoor temperatures.

  • Lessen Moisture Intrusion:

The effective sealing of energy-efficient doors to prevent moisture intrusion is key to addressing potential issues related to mold and mildew growth.

  • Eco-friendliness:

  • Energy Consumption Limited:

By scaling down the energy needed for heating and cooling, an energy-efficient door benefits in cutting down the dependency on human-generated energy. 

The environmental impact of conventional energy source generation is mitigated when carbon emissions are reduced, resulting  in fewer adverse effects on the environment.

  • Reduced Light Pollution:

Certain energy-efficient doors, especially those designed with advanced glazing options, can help mitigate light pollution and aid in home energy savings. This helps preserve the natural darkness of the night sky, benefiting the environment and human health by minimizing disruptive artificial light in the surrounding area.

  • Soundproofing

  • Insulation Excellence:

Energy-efficient doors with densely packed materials like solid wood, steel, or fiberglass are great for dampening background noise. The rich construction acts as a sound barrier, making the inside more serene.

  • High R-Values for Soundproofing:

The high R-values associated with energy-efficient doors, indicative of their resistance to heat transfer, translate into effective soundproofing. As sound waves are essentially vibrations carrying heat energy, the doors’ capacity to resist heat transfer enhances their ability to dampen and block sound.

  • Effective Sealing Mechanisms:

A pivotal aspect of soundproofing is the prevention of leaks and gaps around the door. Energy-efficient doors benefit in doing so by incorporating tight-fitting weatherstripping and gaskets. This meticulous sealing creates a robust barrier, minimizing pathways for sound waves to enter or escape, thus enhancing overall soundproofing.

  • Incorporation of Acoustic Materials:

Some energy-efficient doors take soundproofing a step further by incorporating specialized materials designed for sound absorption. Acoustic foam or dense rubber inserts within the door structure trap and dissipate sound waves internally, preventing them from reaching the other side and contributing to a more effective soundproofing solution.

  • Maintenance Decreased

  • Reduced Wear on Hinges and Hardware:

Energy-efficient doors, due to their well-balanced design, operate smoothly, putting less stress on hinges and hardware. This reduces wear and tear, lowering the chances of hardware failures and minimizing the need for frequent replacements or repairs.

  • Improved Insulation:

Better insulation found in energy-efficient doors helps to keep out blows and heat loss. This not only reduces energy bills but also safeguards your home’s interior from temperature fluctuations. Maintaining a stable indoor environment diminishes stress on your HVAC system, potentially extending its lifespan and decreasing the need for repairs.

How to choose Energy-Efficient Doors?

Check Ratings

  • High R-value and Low U-factor

High R-value signals excellent insulation, measuring material resistance to heat flow. A low U-factor denotes reduced heat conductivity, enhancing energy efficiency by limiting heat transfer through surfaces like windows and doors. 

  • Solar Heat Gain Coefficient(SHGC)

The SHGC determines how effectively a door prevents heat gain from the sun. This parameter is critical in warmer regions, where extreme heat is problematic. A lower SHGC indicates that the door does a good job of keeping the sun out of your home, so your air conditioner won’t have to work as hard.

  • Energy Star Rating

Doors that are certified to satisfy rigorous energy efficiency criteria are given the Energy Star grade. To get this prestigious badge, a door must have low SHGC and U-Factor values balanced. By installing Energy Star doors, like ProVia Entry Doors, you can help lower your energy bills and maybe even qualify for rebates and incentives.

Doors Of Varied Material

  • Fiberglass

Fiberglass emerges as an exceptionally durable choice for front doors, excelling in strength and as a top performer in energy efficiency. With its innate low heat conductivity, fiberglass is inherently energy-efficient. When fortified with insulation, its efficiency becomes unparalleled. Therma-Tru Entry Doors, Plastpro Entry Doors, and ProVia Entry Doors are resilient and optimal solutions, seamlessly combining durability and exceptional energy performance.

  • Aluminum

Aluminum doors are crucial in promoting energy efficiency owing to their low heat conductivity, effectively lessening heat transfer and supporting temperature regulation. By incorporating thermal breaks and insulating materials, aluminum doors further optimize energy performance. Not only lightweight and durable, Origin Patio Doors or Custom Window Systems (CWS) Patio Doors facilitate smooth operation and enduring structural integrity. As the name suggests, you can get custom front doors per your requirements. With high recyclability, aluminum doors adhere to eco-friendly standards, mitigating environmental impact.

  • Wood 

Wood doors are efficient in energy by cutting down heat transfer through low heat conductivity. Enhanced with effective sealing, weather stripping, and customization options, they prevent drafts, ensuring consistent interior comfort. As a renewable resource, wood aligns with sustainable building practices. Its gradual moisture absorption regulates indoor humidity for a healthier environment. Wood doors also minimize sound transmission, promoting tranquility.

Wrapping Up

Doors are not just the entryway to the house but these serve as the components to save energy and bills. Having the right door that acts as the barrier between the external and internal temperature and humidity transforms your home into a fortress of comfort and efficiency.  Your HVAC system sighs with relief, working less while keeping you perfectly cool or toasty warm. So, choose wisely, for your doors are not just portals but gateways to a healthier, quieter, and more cost-effective home.

Top 9 Signs It’s Time for Window Replacement

Your home’s windows play a versatile role in balancing natural light, providing energy efficiency, and styling up a home. As the windows age, they become outdated or get damaged and lose their ability to retain comfortable temperatures and appropriate indoor air quality.

For a comfortable living space, it is essential to identify the signs your windows need replacing and opt for professional service. If you have no idea about how to identify whether or not your windows are working fine, here we have got you the top nine indications that you need new windows for your property. 

Top 9 signs for window replacement

1. Visibly Damaged:

One of the clearest indicators of when to replace windows is the visible cracks or gaps in the glass or the window’s frame. If left unaddressed, there’s a heightened risk of the windows shattering entirely, leaving your home vulnerable to more severe issues such as water seepage, mold growth, and pest infestations. Such issues also contribute to compromised aesthetics. 

2. Drafty Windows:

Drafty windows not only allow the outside air, whether hot, humid or cold to enter your living spaces. This interference of unnecessary air adds strain to your HVAC system, pushing it to work harder to maintain your desired temperature. 

You can detect if your windows are drafty using a simple trick. Just close and lock the window, then run your palm along the bottom and top of the window sash where it meets the frame—detecting any air seepage indicates the presence of drafts.

3. High Electricity Bills:

If you have been witnessing a gradual increase in your electric bills, your degraded windows could be a contributing factor. Inappropriate insulation allows the controlled indoor air to escape, compelling your HVAC system to exert more effort in maintaining your desired temperature. This heightened workload not only drives up your electricity costs but also puts additional strain on your HVAC unit, potentially reducing its lifespan. Upgrading to new, energy-efficient windows is a smart move to counteract this issue.

4. Difficult to Operate:

While it’s normal for windows to experience difficulties in opening and closing over time, if your diligent cleaning and repair efforts prove futile and the situation worsens despite multiple attempts, it’s a sign your windows need replacing. Dealing with a consistently stuck window becomes increasingly frustrating and poses the risk of it getting permanently lodged in an open or closed position, leaving your home vulnerable to the whims of the elements.

5. Lose Their Soundproofing Efficiency:

If external noises like barking dogs, airplanes, or traffic are infiltrating your home, it clearly indicates an issue with your window panes. The intrusion of outdoor sounds would interrupt your peaceful space, leaving your relaxing period or sleep disturbed. Instead of resorting to earplugs, consider reaching out to your local residential window replacement company for the installation of new windows. Ignoring the issue could lead to its escalation over time, as windows accumulate cracks and smaller fractures, exacerbating the noise problem.

6. Water Buildup

Moisture between your windows signals a compromised airtight seal, often due to seal failure. The appearance of fog or condensation between panes indicates moisture infiltration into your living space. Condensation arises when water vapor in the air accumulates and condenses on surfaces, a common occurrence in winter when outdoor air is cool and dry, contrasting with the warm and humid indoor environment. Upgrading to new windows not only addresses this issue by ensuring a tighter seal but also minimizes air filtration, reducing energy costs and acting as an effective deterrent against indoor humidity.

7. The Outdated Windows

Enhancing your home’s curb appeal is a significant consideration for many homeowners. If you are looking to give your home a modern facelift or preparing it for resale, upgrading your windows can make a substantial difference. Replacement windows for homes not only contributes to an improved aesthetic but also adds value to your property, making it a worthwhile investment for those looking to make a modern space.

8. Missing Seals

Modern windows heavily depend on their seals to uphold their glazing integrity, making even slight gaps potentially disastrous. The visibility of gaps between your window, wall, frame, or sash indicates seal failure. Additionally, cracks and discoloration are signs that your sealants have deteriorated. While a routine five-year resealing schedule can contribute to window maintenance, it may not suffice in all cases. 

9. The Absence of Low-E

If your furniture, carpet, rugs, or decor exposed to sunlight through your windows are showing signs of fading, it’s likely that your windows lack the UV protection provided by modern windows equipped with low-emissivity (low-E) glass. Low-E glass is coated with a microscopic film that effectively blocks UV rays and solar heat, preserving the color and quality of your furniture, carpet, and curtains. This not only safeguards your furnishings from fading but also contributes to maintaining a cooler and more comfortable indoor environment.

Conclusion

As it turns out, windows are essential for a comfortable and energy-efficient home. Contact us at The Window Depot if you want to replace your windows. We will make sure you get your windows properly installed in no time!

What to Look for When Buying New Patio Doors

Happy family on cozy patio area with sliding doors.Patio doors may not be front and center when it comes to your home’s exterior, but that doesn’t mean they don’t play a vital role in its beauty and functionality. Outdated, dingy, and poorly operating patio doors can be more than just nuisances and eyesores. They can be a barrier to accessing and fully enjoying your backyard, deck, or patio. Thankfully, an experienced company can replace patio doors quickly—usually in just a few hours—and with minimal disruption to your home. With installation being relatively straightforward, the key to a successful remodel is choosing the right kind of patio doors for your home. Here are four things to consider when buying new ones.    

Style

Let’s start with the most basic question: what type of patio doors should you go with? Just because your current doors are one style, it doesn’t mean you can’t switch things up with their replacements.

Sliding

The most common style of patio door is sliding, and for two big reasons. First, since the doors don’t sweep outward or inward, they do not require a lot of floor space to operate. Second, with their large glass doors, they let in plenty of light and offer great views.

French

French doors are close behind sliding doors in terms of popularity. These hinged options offer classic styling and plenty of hardware options. French doors also have a lower threshold than sliding doors, which require a track for the panels to operate.

Folding

If you really want to make your outdoor living area an extension of your home, folding patio doors are the way to go. These doors stack against each other as they retract and can open up an entire wall of the room, proving maximum access and unobstructed views.  

Glass Options

There’s no shortage of glass options when it comes to patio doors. Some of the most popular are impact glass, tinted glass, and glass with low-E coatings that filter out UV rays, the type of light that causes color fading in sun-exposed fabrics and flooring. You can also opt for energy-efficient glass packages that have gas fills between the panes, increasing thermal performance.   

Frame Material

Just about every patio door frame is made from one of four materials: wood, metal, fiberglass, and vinyl.

Vinyl

Among frame materials, vinyl is the most popular, especially with sliding doors. Vinyl is durable, easy to clean, energy efficient, and stands up well to temperature extremes.

Wood

Wood patio doors are beautiful and come in a variety of types and finishes. They do require more maintenance than other options, but with proper care should last as long as any other material.

Metal

Steel and aluminum doors are exceptionally durable and often more affordable than some other options, but they may not be as energy efficient as vinyl, wood, or fiberglass models. 

Fiberglass

Like fiberglass windows, fiberglass doors are growing in popularity. They offer the best strength-to-weight ratio of the four, combining exceptional durability in a lightweight package. And because of their strength, the frames can be a little less bulky than other types of patio doors. But they are more expensive than vinyl or metal.   

Convenience and Decorative Options

The right finishing touches can take your patio doors to the next level. In addition to hardware options such as handles and reinforced locking mechanisms, you’ll also be able to choose from a variety of grid options and even built-in blinds that are sandwiched between the glass panes. And of course, you’ll be able to choose from many different colors and finishes.

Your Source for Premium Patio Doors

Deciding which patio doors are right for your home will depend on your budget, your aesthetic preferences, and your needs. If sorting through all the possibilities is a little daunting, you don’t have to go it alone. The Window Depot offers and installs premium patio doors from top manufacturers Simonton and PGT. One of our representatives will be happy to visit your home in the Tampa Bay area to review options and answer all your questions. Reach out to us today. You can also visit our Palm Harbor showroom to chat and view samples of our patio doors firsthand.   

Common Causes of a Drafty Window

Common Causes of a Drafty WindowOn windy days, do you hear your windows rattling? How about the curtains? Do they sway when a breeze kicks up? Drafty windows can do more than make your home grumble and sigh. They can force your HVAC unit to work harder to keep indoor temperatures comfortable, which in turn can lead to higher utility bills. In fact, the Department of Energy (DOE) recently estimated that drafty windows can cost up to $330 a year in additional heating or cooling costs. That’s enough to send a chill up any homeowner’s spine. But what causes windows to become drafty? And what can be done about it? Here are three common causes of drafty windows.    

Seal Failures

Upon installation, windows are caulked along all seams and edges, and the spaces between the jambs and framing members are filled with insulation. Unfortunately, caulking doesn’t last forever and insulation degrades over time. When this happens (and it will happen eventually) it creates gaps that allow air to pass through. How long your seals last will depend on several factors, including how often you open and close the window (wear and tear), and what kind of climate you live in. Temperature extremes cause windows to contract and expand, which stresses the seals.

Improper Installation

If your new windows are drafty, it’s almost certainly the result of improper installation. As explained above, windows must be properly caulked and insulated if they are to prevent air leakage. The window jamb must also be perfectly aligned within the frame to ensure an airtight fit once the caulking and insulation have been added. This is a precise, multi-step process, and it’s not unheard of for even professional installers to improperly position the frame ever-so-slightly.  

Deteriorated Hardware

Even the simplest window is still a complex piece of machinery, with plenty of parts that must work in conjunction with each other to provide optimal weather protection. It doesn’t take a complete component failure to cause a window to become drafty. Worn-out gaskets, subtle frame warpage, and thinning glazing can allow air infiltration even if the window is still fully functional.       

How to Tell if Your Windows Are Leaking Air

We’ve already mentioned a few of the more obvious indications that your windows are allowing air to infiltrate your home. But more often than not, drafts are subtle, elusive, and hard to detect. A professional energy auditor can conduct a pressurization test using extremely sensitive equipment to find even the smallest leak. There are also a few things you can do on your own that will give you a better idea of the state of your windows. The following techniques work best on windy days:

  • Close all windows and doors
  • If you have a fireplace flue, shut it
  • Turn off any fans in the house
  • Light an incense stick and hold it close to the edges of the window or
  • Wet your palm and do the same

If your windows are leaking air, the smoke rising from the incense stick will waver. You should also be able to feel a cool sensation across your damp palm. 

What to Do if Your Windows Are Drafty

For a quick and temporary fix, there are several steps you can take to improve your windows’ ability to keep out drafts. V-seal weather stripping can be added along the sashes. Shrink-and-seal films can be added over the window’s inner frame. Even a few daps of carefully applied nail polish can be applied to cracks.

Most of these techniques eliminate the ability to open and close the window, so they are not intended to be a final fix. The surest way to eliminate drafts is to have the old windows replaced with new, energy-efficient ones. At The Window Depot, we are the Tampa Bay area’s premium exterior contractor and offer a variety of impact and non-impact windows from such leading manufacturers as PGT, Simonton, and CWS. If you’re ready to upgrade your home, reach out to us today and schedule a no-obligation consultation. You can also visit our expansive showroom in Palm Harbor to see full-scale mockups of our windows first-hand.

Five Benefits of Vinyl Windows

Five Benefits of Vinyl WindowsVinyl replacement windows have come a long way in the decades since they were first introduced. Once considered cheap and unattractive, early vinyl windows were susceptible to temperature extremes and couldn’t match their wooden counterparts in terms of beauty. That’s not the case anymore. Today’s vinyl replacement windows have been upgraded in every way, from new additives that increase vinyl’s resistance to cracking and color fading, to advanced manufacturing techniques that have vastly improved overall quality. Thanks to these advancements, vinyl is now the most popular window material, not only in Florida, but also the rest of the country.

Of course, every window material offers something that makes it an appealing choice for manufacturers and homeowners alike, whether it’s wood, metal, fiberglass, or vinyl. The key to deciding which is right for your home will depend on your priorities, preferences, and budget. Here are five benefits of vinyl windows.      

Durability

Moisture and insect damage are the two major factors that contribute to the degradation of windows, and unlike wood and metal options, vinyl is impervious to both. Vinyl will never rot or swell. That means they’ll continue to function properly for decades. You won’t have to worry about sticking sashes making opening and closing a struggle or impossibility. And termites have no interest in vinyl. What’s more, unlike metal, vinyl will not oxidize or pit over time. Vinyl windows are also impact resistant. And while vinyl does expand and contract in temperature extremes, unless your home routinely reaches temperatures above 165 degrees Fahrenheit, there’s no danger of warpage.

Affordability

When comparing the cost of various window materials, it’s important to remember that each type falls within a range. There are low-cost and premium options in every category, with plenty of overlap. For example, the most expensive vinyl windows will cost more than the least expensive wood windows, but the quality will correspond to the craftsmanship. In other words, you’ll get what you paid for. With that in mind, vinyl is one of the most economical window materials on the market. On average, it’s more affordable than wood, composite, fiberglass, and most aluminum collections. 

Ease of Maintenance

Vinyl windows require very little care to keep them looking great year after year. As previously mentioned, they will never succumb to rot or insect damage, so there will never be a need to make spot repairs. And since the color is infused throughout the frames, there’s not a coating of paint that can chip or crack. In fact, a quick wipe down with a damp cloth should be all that’s required to clean the frames. And here’s a bonus: many double-hung models have sashes that pivot inward to provide easy access to the outside glass. That’s an invaluable plus, especially on upper-story windows.   

Energy Efficient

Unlike metal, vinyl is a poor thermal conductor. And that’s a good thing! It prevents the outside and inside temperature of the frame from quickly equalizing. This, in turn, helps keep the inside of your home warmer or cooler than the ambient outdoor temperature. The thermal performance of vinyl windows can also be further enhanced with options such as insulation-filled frames, warm-edge spacer systems, and triple-pane glass with argon or krypton gas fills. Low-E glass coatings are also a good idea since they block damaging UV rays responsible for color fading in sun-exposed fabrics such as drapes, curtains, and upholstery.

Faster Installation

Vinyl is lightweight and easy to work with. That makes installation generally easier than other window options such as wood and aluminum. When necessary, minor adjustments can be made to ensure a proper fit. With heavier windows, this may require more time and effort. It also increases the chances of something being damaged in the process, either on the new window or the opening it’s being fitted into. Vinyl windows are a little more forgiving when it comes to minor alterations.

If the time has come to replace your windows, the company to turn to in the Tampa Bay area is The Window Depot. We offer a wide selection of premium vinyl windows from PGT, Simonton, and CWS, including high-efficiency and impact-resistant options that will stand strong against the summer heat and extreme storms common in our semi-tropical climate. Contact us today to learn or more. You can also drop by our Palm Harbor showroom or schedule an in-home consultation.

What Causes Condensation Between Window Panes?

What Causes Condensation Between Window Panes?Window condensation is a fairly common occurrence, and one every homeowner has observed at some point. It can range from barely noticeable to covering the entire pane. This can certainly be an annoyance, is it a cause for concern? That depends on where the condensation is. Droplets that form on the inside or outside surface of a window are a result of humidity levels and glass temperature. This type of condensation is harmless. There’s not much that can be done to prevent outside window fogging unless you want to make the temperature inside your home the same as the temperature outside your home. For most people, that’s an extreme solution to a very minor issue. Condensation on the inside of a window is the result of high humidity levels. In colder climates, this is more noticeable in the winter. In southern states, it’s more common in the summer when HVAC units are running 24/7. Investing in a dehumidifier, occasionally opening the windows to release moist air, and upgrading weatherstripping can help reduce inside window condensation. Although condensation on the inside or outside of window glass is nothing to worry about, that’s not the case with condensation inside the windows.

Why Windows Fail

First a caveat. It’s obviously not possible to have between-the-panes condensation with a single-pane window. Everything discussed here applies to double- or triple-pane models. So, what causes condensation inside the glass? It’s a one-two punch of seal failure followed eventually by desiccant saturation. Let’s examine each in a little more detail.

Seal Failure

All double- and triple-pane windows have seals to protect against moisture incursion. In fact, most premium windows have two sets of seals. The inside seal is between the glass panes and the outside seal is between the frame and the sash. These seals are usually made with a flexible caulk that is pliable when first installed. This means they can flex when the window frames expand or contract due to normal daily heating variations, thus preventing gaps from forming. As window seals age, however, they begin to stiffen, which inevitably leads to seal failure. Despite its rather ominous sound, seal failure is not something that greatly affects window performance. At least, not at first. The amount of moisture infiltration is small, and modern windows have a backup component to compensate: desiccant. 

Desiccant Saturation

Window desiccant is an absorbent material installed between the glass. Its purpose is to draw excess moisture from the atmosphere between the panes (in energy-efficient windows, that’s either argon or krypton gas used as fill) and “lock” it away. Desiccant can be in the form of clay, silica gel, or aluminosilicate depending on the type of window, with clay being the least expensive and aluminosilicate the most. Window desiccants can soak up a lot of moisture and usually last for years. But they are not a permanent solution and will become saturated at some point. When this happens, they can no longer prevent condensation from forming inside the glass.

When you take into account both the seals and desiccant, by the time you notice condensation the window’s primary and secondary moisture defense systems have failed. And if the inside seals are broken, chances are the outside seals between the frame and the sash are as well. This can allow moisture inside your house, either in the form of vapor (humidity) or leaks.

How to Eliminate Condensation Between Window Panes

In some cases, between-the-panes condensation can be fixed with a window restoration. This involves removing the glass and recaulking the seals. This process is mostly used on historic windows that are of significant architectural value. For most homeowners, the better option is usually to upgrade the windows entirely with new models that are more energy efficient and easier to operate while requiring minimal maintenance.

At The Window Depot, we are the company to turn to for all your window replacement needs. We proudly offer options from PGT, Simonton, and Custom Window Systems (CWS). If you are a homeowner in the Tampa Bay, Sarasota, or Venice area, we’ll be happy to provide a complimentary consultation to review all of the windows we offer and install. You can also visit our showroom in Palm Harbor to see examples of our models.

Sliding Vs. French Patio Doors: Which Is Right for Your Home?

Sliding Vs. French Patio DoorsPatio doors are intended to be the gateways to fun and relaxation, providing access to your yard or an outdoor living area. If they’ve seen better days, however, and no longer operate as intended, they can be an annoyance at best and a hazard at worst. Replacing your old patio doors will not only improve your home’s functionality, but also its energy efficiency, security, and beauty. But unlike front entry doors, which are always hinged, patio doors come in several varieties, including sliding, garden, and folding. Which kind is right for your home will depend on several factors.

Terminology

Since patio door types are referred to in many different ways, any discussion must begin with a quick review of terminology. Hinged patio doors are called a few different names depending on their style. Those with large, undivided glass panes are usually called garden doors, and like all hinged doors, they can swing inward or outward. French doors have panes divided by grids, giving them a more traditional look.

Sliding doors, also called gliding doors, are divided into several types. The most common are traditional sliding doors with one large glass pane per panel. French sliding doors have panes with grids. Telescopic sliding doors have three or more doors that run on parallel tracks, allowing them all to be retracted against the wall.

Folding doors are also called accordion doors. They fold against one another, and like telescopic doors, can be retracted to a wall. Bi-folds have two panels, tri-folds three, etc.

Cost

Pricing for doors will vary depending on material, glass, and hardware choices, but in general, hinged French doors are between 10% and 20% more expensive than basic sliding doors. They also require more expertise to install since they must be properly hung and balanced. The cost for folding doors is comparable to sliding doors, but larger doors with more panels will cost more.

Energy  Efficiency

All types of patio doors are available with features such as tinting, insulation-filled frames, and double-panes for enhanced thermal performance. Because of their configuration, sliding doors are less prone to air infiltration than hinged French doors, making them more energy-efficient, but it’s unlikely you’ll notice any significant difference in your monthly utility bill between the two options.

Sliding Vs. French Patio DoorsTransition Type

When selecting a patio door, it’s important to consider what it’s providing access to. If your lawn comes right up to your house, a sliding door or French doors that open inward will be the better option, since it won’t sweep out over the grass. If you have a tiled patio, outward opening French doors are also an option. If your patio doors open to a fully enclosed space such as a screened-in porch or sunroom, folding doors offer the opportunity to open up the entire wall, creating a nearly seamless transition from the rest of your house into your outdoor living area.

Security

Sliding, hinged, and folding doors are all available with impact-resistant glass as well as multi-point, tamper-resistant locking systems. The weakest point with French doors is where they meet. Sliding patio doors avoid this potential vulnerability, but anti-lift devices such as lockable inside drop bolts can be unsightly.

Space Considerations

One of the biggest pluses with sliding doors is that they require very little space to operate. This is an important for cramped quarters. French doors require room to sweep in or out. Folding doors require enough space along the wall to allow the panels to stack against one another. One consideration often overlooked is raised thresholds, which are also called rebates. French and sliding doors have them. Folding doors have no-threshold options that eliminate a possible tripping hazard, but they are not as energy efficient as those with thresholds. For this reason, they’re recommended for interior use such as a house-to-sunroom transition.

Views

When it comes to unobstructed views, folding and telescoping doors are the way to go. These doors allow you to open up the entire wall for maximum exposure. The flip side of this coin is that when folding doors are closed, there’s more framing than with sliding doors, so they allow in less light. Because of their grids, traditional French doors have the most restrictive views, but “restrictive” is a relative term considering the amount of glass all patio doors feature.

If you’re ready for new patio doors, the company to turn to in the Tampa Bay area is The Window Depot. We offer and install a wide variety of sliding, French, and folding doors in a plethora of styles. Reach out to us today to learn more or drop by our Palm Harbor showroom to see samples of the doors we carry.

What Makes a Door Energy Efficient?

What Makes a Door Energy Efficient?Exterior doors lead a double life. When they’re open, they provide access to your home or backyard. When they’re closed, they provide a formidable barrier against would-be intruders and the elements. If you’re in the market for a new door, it’s fairly easy to see if it meets your standards for security. The locking hardware is right there for you to inspect. But how do you know if the door you’re considering is up to snuff when it comes to its thermal performance? It’s not quite so obvious. If you’re wondering what makes a door energy efficient, here are a few things to keep in mind before you purchase a new one.

Frame Material

When it comes to door frame materials, you want to choose something that is a poor conductor of heat. Fiberglass front doors and vinyl patio doors are two of the best options in terms of energy efficiency. Both of these materials resist thermal conduction quite effectively. Since steel is good at transferring heat, this frame material is a notch below the others. But most modern steel doors have insulation-filled inner chambers to boost their energy efficiency. Wood doors are the least energy efficient.

Style

Doors come in a variety of styles, from sleek and minimalistic to elaborate and eye-catching, but the single biggest determining factor for energy efficiency is the amount of glass that’s featured in its design. Doors with larger window panels tend to be less energy efficient than windowless doors, especially if the glass is a single pane (see below). With their large windows, patio doors are less energy efficient than entry doors, but modern designs incorporate several features to minimize heat transfer, including insulation filled frames. Hinged patio doors are less energy efficient than sliding models.

Glass Type

Just like windows, the glass in exterior doors is available in standard and high-performance packages. To maximize thermal performance, the glass must have two or three panes. The most energy efficient door glass also has argon or krypton gas between the panes to further reduce heat flow. Premium patio doors are available with these options as well, but to make them as energy efficient as possible, window treatments such as curtains or blinds are a must. They may block your view, but they’ll also block solar heat, which will keep your home cooler during warmer months.

Internal Insulation

The core of a door is either solid or a honeycomb of inner chambers. While solid-core doors are touted for their security, they are not as energy efficient as doors with insulation filled core. Polyurethane foam is most often used to create a thermal barrier that prevents heat transfer. Obviously, the more insulation the better the performance, which is another reason why doors with a small amount of glass or no glass at all are more energy efficient. Insulation-filled cores are smaller in window-dominated models. And as mentioned above, patio door frames can also be augmented with insulation.

Installation

The most energy-efficient doors will not provide the thermal performance they’re rated for if they’re not properly installed. Even doors that open easily and seem plumb, level, and square can be misaligned just enough to create gaps for air to get through. It may seem counter-intuitive, but improper installation is more common on pre-hung doors, which are packaged with their frames. That’s because the frames must be properly sealed and caulked to prevent airflow, and if this isn’t done with precision, it could allow air and moisture to seep into your home. Another common problem is weatherstripping that’s damaged during installation.

The Company to Turn to for Energy Efficient Doors

If the time has come to replace your exterior doors, the company to turn to is The Window Depot. We offer homeowners throughout the Tampa Bay area a wide variety of premium products made by industry leaders such as Provia, Therma-Tru, Plastpro, and PGT. In addition to our front and patio doors being energy efficient, they’re also durable, easy to care for, and of course beautiful. Reach out to us today and schedule a no-obligation consultation to learn more. Or if you’d prefer to browse our selections firsthand, drop by our expansive showroom in Palm Harbor. With so many options to choose from, you’re sure to find the perfect exterior door for your home.

What Is the Best Material for Windows?

What Is the Best Material for Windows?Replacement windows are a big undertaking, so it’s perfectly natural for Florida homeowners to want a product that will last as long as possible. Nowadays, there’s no shortage of options – wood, metal, fiberglass, and vinyl windows are four of the most popular, but which ones will stand the test of time? And just as importantly, which ones will require the least amount of upkeep? After all, most homeowners would rather not spend a significant number of hours on maintenance just to extend the life of their windows for a year or two.

Vinyl vs. Wood Windows

First, it’s important to remember that the life expectancy of your new windows will not only depend on what they’re made from, but also the type of weather conditions they’re subjected to. Since Florida has hot, humid summers, mild winters, and frequently turbulent weather, including tropical storms and hurricanes, windows here have to withstand a lot. In our semi-tropical climate, vinyl windows are the best choice for homeowners who want to get the most longevity out of their investment. Unlike wood, vinyl is impervious to moisture and insect damage, so you will never need to worry about it swelling, warping, rotting, or becoming a meal for hungry termites. What’s more, the color in vinyl windows is either baked on or infused throughout the frame, so you’ll never need to repaint or re-stain them. Homeowners can expect 40 or 50 years of dependable performance from high-end vinyl windows. How does that compare to wood-framed windows? With proper maintenance that includes periodic resealing and re-staining, you should expect these types of windows to last about 30 years.

Vinyl vs. Metal Windows

How do vinyl windows do when compared to metal windows? If they’re standard metal windows, very well indeed. Although aluminum doesn’t rot or rust, it is thermally conductive, so heat can easily transfer between the outside and inside of the frame. This makes metal windows less energy efficient than their vinyl counterparts. Aluminum windows are also more vulnerable to dings and dents, which can break the seal between the frame and the pane, further reducing thermal performance. Because of this, the life expectancy of standard metal windows is between 15 and 20 years.

High-performance aluminum windows are a different story. Manufacturers like PGT offer premium aluminum windows that meet or exceed the International Building Code for air infiltration, water resistance, deglazing, forced-entry, and structural integrity. Extruded aluminum frames are more impact resistant than their standard aluminum counterparts. In fact, PGT aluminum windows boast both a Miami-Dated Notice of Acceptance and a Florida Product Approval rating, making them a good alternative to vinyl for homes with more modern stylings. They’re also a popular choice for light commercial properties.

Vinyl vs. Fiberglass

Fiberglass windows have become increasingly popular in recent decades. The durability of fiberglass is comparable to vinyl, so you can expect to get the same number of serviceable years from both. The big difference is cost. Fiberglass windows are more expensive than vinyl, and many brands offer fewer options than you would get from a reputable vinyl window manufacturer. There are also fewer color options with fiberglass. Lastly, fiberglass windows are mechanically fastened to window openings, which makes them more vulnerable to leaks if the sealant isn’t applied with precision. If you opt for fiberglass windows, make sure the company you choose for the installation has the experience to do the job right.

At The Window Depot, we are the home improvement experts in the Tampa Bay area. If you need replacement windows, we offer vinyl and aluminum windows from top manufacturers Simonton and PGT. All of the products we offer will provide decades of beauty and dependable performance. Contact us today to learn more about our products and services, including financing options for qualified customers. You can also drop by our showroom in Palm Harbor to view our windows firsthand.

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