How to Test a Drafty Window for Improper Installation
LESLIE: John in New Jersey is dealing with some leaky windows. Tell us about the problem.
JOHN: Hi. Yes, I’ve had Andersen windows now for two-and-a-half years and when they installed them they said there was no problem. They’re an insulated type of window and yet I get a draft that comes through.
JOHN: Now being that they’re a costly window and it’s insulated, I hate to put plastic over it just to keep the cold out.
TOM: What kind of window did you have there before?
JOHN: We had a four-foot picture window.
TOM: Mm-hmm. Have you ever tried to do a real careful inspection of every area of the window; either with the back of your hand or you could use like an incense stick and watch for puffs of smoke and see if there’s any air streaming in? I will tell you that if an Andersen window is installed square, there is absolutely no way that it’s going to leak because it’s a really good window. I suspect the problem is with the installation and most likely it’s around the window unit; it’s not the window unit itself. Those windows have sort of a flange on them that have to be properly sealed and if they’re not you’re going to get some air that blows in around the outside of it but it’s not coming through the window itself. So what I would do if I was responding to this, I would do a very careful inspection of all the trim area all around the house – all around the window, I should say. I would also check the windows, too, and you can feel drafts easily with the back of your hand; not the front but the back because the back of your skin is much more sensitive than your palm.
If you identify a place that window is leaking in the window itself, well, then I suspect something is not aligned properly. That is an installation problem. And if you find it around the outside of the window where the trim is, that is definitely an installation problem. But I don’t believe that there is anything wrong with the window itself because I know how well those windows are made. There are certain brands of windows that I just trust: Andersen is one; Pella is one. You know there are a bunch of really good-quality windows and as long as they’re installed correctly in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendation, those windows just aren’t going to leak. But the manufacturers can’t control the installation. If the installation is not done properly, they will leak; so you’ve got to do some further inspection and try to identify where that insulation problem is.
If you’re not getting satisfaction from that installer maybe you ought to call another one or talk to an independent home inspector who can do an inspection for you and really give you an unbiased, impartial opinion and get this thing fixed.
John, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.