Thursday, October 30, 2014

Types of Window

image: freedigitalphotos
Domestic windows usually have timber, PVC or metal frames. This troubleshooting guide discusses common problems encountered with each of these materials and suggests remedial treatments.

Timber-frame windows were originally the default choice for windows, timber has returned to favour with the advent of double glazing. Both hardwood and preservative-treated softwood are used, with hardwood usually being the more rot-resistant. External timber requires protection against the elements to maintain optimum condition, so painting, or wood-stain treatment, alongside routine maintenance, will help long-term preservation.

Older windows are vulnerable to wet rot. The usual cause is inadequate care, resulting in leaks through cracks and gaps in the putty, or rainwater constantly dripping from a gutter leak. Wet rot damage inevitably escalates and will need remedial action to retrieve the situation.

There are three main ways of dealing with wet rot. Relatively minor damage can be treated by removing the damaged wood and repairing with resin. More serious wet rot is best tackled by taking out the frame and then splicing in a replacement piece. This is best left to a skilled joiner. If the wet rot has seriously weakened a substantial part of the frame, complete replacement is the only remaining option. Of course, resin repair is the cheapest solution and, where feasible, is also a real time-saver.

The move to mandatory double-glaze specifications for all new houses and extension work, as required by Building Regulations changes in the 1990's, has contributed to a rise in the popularity of PVC windows to their current market-leading position. Sold as energy-efficient and virtually maintenance-free, they are effectively claimed to be a one-off purchase. Despite the hype, condensation issues have arisen with moisture bypassing worn perimeter seals and leaking between the glass plates, thus limiting the product lifespan. Replacement glass with a new set of seals is the best cure.

Older PVC tends to react to sunlight, turning lead residues in the material yellow-pink. Newer products are manufactured differently and show improved resistance to wear and considerably greater energy efficiency.

Metal-frame windows or 'Suntrap' windows, single-glazed with a curved metal frame, were a 1920's innovation from the 'steel' era of housing construction. These have been mostly replaced because their poor thermal insulation is well below acceptable modern standards. Metal frames generally exhibit signs of stress where structural disturbance is present. Consequent frame distortion then causes rapid wearing of handles and other metal fittings often making the window unserviceable. Metal rust will require attention too. Abrasive grit or acid will remove most surface contamination; anything more serious will necessitate cutting and welding on a new metal piece.

The latest development in modern windows is the introduction of aluminium frames. These are stronger and thinner than other metal frames, facilitating and encouraging new design possibilities beyond the limits imposed by other types of frame material. Nevertheless, rapid heat transfer through the frames, caused by aluminium's high conductivity, requires the insertion of a 'thermal break' isolating the inner and outer frames to prohibit the formation of condensation.

For expert help and advice get in touch with You Choose Window today.