Major Disappointment With Pella Windows and Doors - Caveat Emptor
We were rebuilding and adding to our home located in a suburb south of Boston beginning in May of 2005. In the process, we chose the Pella Designer series windows, in part because we were told the sashes were an all wood interior, with triple-pane highly efficient glass. We have pets and so one of the features that especially appealed to us was the ability to purchase blinds that are placed between the panes of glass. Our home is of considerable size and contains much glass coverage. We ordered from Pella 78 windows, some as large as seven feet tall by several feet wide, as well as 6 exterior French (glass) doors.
To say the experience has been disappointing would be an understatement. Pella has been to our home for service over 25 times! I have considerable knowledge regarding construction from various work, education and a two year apprenticeship as an Architect that I worked many years ago. I am cognizant as to what are acceptable standards and normal installations for doors and windows. It was my experience that the Pella Designer series requires substantial installation preparation far exceeding that of a comparable Anderson or Marvin or Harvey product where the Pella windows will not function properly without extraordinary precise shimming the windows.
The problem lies in what appears to be an inherent design flaw where if the windows are not shimmed tight on the verticals jambs adjacent to the plane where the windows lock, the windows will "pop" out and not lock. This in part appears to be caused by the actual locking mechanism that employs a straight slot type of engagement rather than a gradual sloping type of lock that could first grab the sash and then close it tight. Another contributor to this problem seems to be the weathers stripping utilized in the manufacturer of the product. The weather stripping is so stiff, it make closing the properly installed windows many times very difficult and sometimes impossible.
In the North East where the weather and relative humidity changes significantly over the course of the year, the shim requirements to make these windows properly operational swell and cause operational difficulties. Additionally, when attempting to tilt-in a pane for cleaning, because of the tightness required to make these windows lock, the wood rails on the sides of the sashes become torn and damaged.
As far as the product being an all-wood interior, that was another illusion. The hinged panel that facilitated the ability to place the blinds and grids between the glass is actually a formed metal component that contains a very thin, "paper thin" layer of wood over the metal. This is problematic because the lock mechanism if not fully disengaged can catch this thin wood and easily tear it off. Given the price point of these windows, I submit there are better alternatives especially given that when we experienced problems, these were considerably exacerbated when Pella Boston, the "dealer" we purchased the windows through, were unresponsive, and acted in our opinion in a less than honorable way in dealing with an enormity of problems with their products at our home. We have been attempting to rectify non-conforming products delivered in May-June of 2005 still to this date! I will say on a positive note that if it were not for the earnest efforts for a Pella technician named Eric who has been to our home for over 20 times, I would have torn out the windows and commenced litigation.
On a final note, Pellas position appears to be one to blame the installation. Last month, Pella sent out an engineer from the headquarters in Pella Iowa to our home to investigate our problems. We already had several structural engineers review these problems with out home and Pella was made aware of this. Pella stated that a pair of French glass doors were improperly installed where they were not plumb, level or square and that this was the cause of the doors not working. To demonstrate this was untrue, Pella was sent digital photographs depicting a digital level on each plane showing the plumb, and level and photos of a tape measure demonstrating the door was installed square. In an attempt to remove itself from the liability of correcting the nonconforming doors, Pella said the photos could have been deceptive and not true and sent the engineer to confirm what was already stated. It was learned this person testifies for Pella in court and so he was on a fact-finding mission. Unfortunately for him, everything was as we stated and he just wasted more of our time. Pella is planning on finally replacing these doors to correct the problems.
Our experience with Pella Windows has not been a positive one and I would never recommend the purchase of their product after our dealings with them. We have had problems with every aspect of dealing with Pella and to date have several issues unresolved.
Caveat emptorÂlet the buyer beware.