Windows and load bearing?

hopesprings_gwMarch 2, 2011

We have a wall of windows on the south side of our home, all double pane, house is approximately 16 years old. The home has about 40 windows total on all sides and we've only had to replace glass for one broken seal, and it was on the north side of the house. Windows are all aluminum clad wood, Hurd brand.

Last summer we had two small glass block windows cut into the basement wall on the south side of the house. We talked to the building inspector and the glass block guy and they concluded we could just cut the windows into the concrete basement wall without additional supports or framing. They look great and really add light to the basement, etc.

Today we noticed two apparent broken seal spots inside the windows on the upper level of our south side room. The broken seals appear to be right above the two new glass block windows.

We have some pretty big temperature swings on that side of the house with the winters here in Michigan. But we've been in the house for six years and had no problems except for some loud cracking noises as the temp drops at night in the summer. (We also have a metal roof, so that's part of the noise issue.) We've also had quite a few big snowfalls this year FWIW.

My question: Am I paranoid to think the new glass block in the basement wall made those windows move/give just enough under the weight of the snow to crack the seals? And if I replace them, how do I know it won't happen again?

Thanks for any insights or thoughts.

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texasredhead

These windows can be a little fussy if their base is changed or the foundation shifts. Houses are framed with the interior walls sitting on the sill plate which sits on the foundation. It is assumed that the glass block windows were cut into the foundation below the sill plate. This activity could have shifted the base under those windows just enough to crack the seal. Put a 4' level on the floor under the windows to see if there has been any deflection. This will do two things, it will tell you if the base is level and by using a long level, you cam see if there is a gap under the level.

As you know, it is not cheap to replace double pane panels so you need to consider what the situation is before replacing the glass.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2011 at 11:01AM
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brickeyee

"Last summer we had two small glass block windows cut into the basement wall on the south side of the house. "

Any cracks from the upper corners of the cuts?

How far below the top of the opening for the glass blocks is the sill plate?

Concrete does not flex very well without cracking.

If the block opening does not have any cracks above it it is very unlikely anything moved enoughto affect the windows above.

If there is a decent amount of concrete between the top of the glass block opening and the sill plate (at least as much as the width of the opening) on top of the wall is is even less likely the opening caused any problems.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2011 at 2:20PM
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hopesprings_gw

Thanks for the feedback. I'll get a long level and test that.

The windows are 24" high x 32" wide and they are actually butted up to the bottom of the sill plate. The contractor and the local building inspector both approved this, so I hope it wasn't a mistake to do it that way. They're not right together and I don't see any cracking in the concrete.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2011 at 9:44AM
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PRO
Windows on Washington

That type of installation is fairly commonplace when it comes to running it right up to the sill plate.

I think is it likely coincidental and and not tied to compromising the structure but do follow up on it and take a look at the structure of the opening regardless.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2011 at 4:24PM
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brickeyee

In 32 inches the most you could have would be two studs.

If they are directly under the widow the weight has been transferred around the window by the header and studs on each side of the framed opening above.

What you do directly under a window hardly makes any difference, since that portion of the wall is NOT bearing any weight.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2011 at 6:53PM
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worthy

If they are directly under the wi[n]dow the weight has been transferred....

That's quite a big "if".

Wherever studs are cut out for an opening, a header is required.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2011 at 4:19PM
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brickeyee

"If they are directly under the wi[n]dow the weight has been transferred....

That's quite a big "if".

Wherever studs are cut out for an opening, a header is required. "

And under the header there is no longer a load from above on the wall.

The header transfers it to the sides of the opening.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2011 at 11:22AM
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