Condesation between panes - replace glass, window, or insert?

mamatoalexAugust 29, 2010

newbie here - please forgive the ignorance.

I live in Massachusetts. Our home was built in 1996 and has the original windows which are Hurd windows.

I have at least 8-9 windows that have condensation between the window panes. There are some that are worse than others, but I can see that at least 8-9 windows are obviously affected, and I suspect that others may be affected as well, although it's hard for me to tell. It seems that it's easier to see the condensation at times, and more difficult at other times.

I'm trying to figure out what is the best thing for me to do to fix this problem. I understand that the condensation occurs due to a failure of the seal.

I understand that one option is just to replace the glass in the windows. Another would be to replace the actual window. Is replacing the window insert the third option? How do I know which of these options to pursue? I assume it's more expensive to replace the entire window than just the glass. I think the frames are okay, but I'm not an expert at all. Is there some advantage or disadvantage, other than cost, of replacing the entire window vs. just the glass?

I've been told that the seals start failing due to age, and once they start failing, it's likely that all the seals of all the windows will likely start failing. Is there any advantage to replacing all the windows now, even the ones that aren't affected yet? Or should I just replace them as they go? Is it going to look strange for the house to have the windows be different?

Also, how do I know what type of glass I have in the windows currently? I had initially planned on replacing just the glass and got some quotes from glass people. But one guy told me that I have clear glass, one told me that they were lowE, one told me that he wasn't sure, but recommended that I replace them with lowE even if they were clear glass. One guy told me that there's a law in MA that's been in place since the mid 80s that requires the windows to be lowE, and another guy told me that was untrue. I've googled and can't find any information about whether there is a law about this or not.

Thanks for any advice or tips.

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PRO
Windows on Washington Ltd

If 8 or 9 have already gone, it is likely that the rest are not far behind.

Some times you will see accelerated seal failure on elevations that take a beating from the sun. If that is the case here, the others may live a while.

Replacing the glass with a sealed IGU with Low-e is likely going to cost as much as an entirely new insert.

Insert window utilizes the existing frame and sets the new window inside that frame. Primary drawback is the loss of glass when compared to a full tear out.

Full tear out installation replaces everything right down to the studs and all interior trim. Primary drawback, expense.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2010 at 9:20PM
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skydawggy

I would also point out that there is the 30% tax credit available on new windows. That should offset the cost of replacing the windows VS just replacing the glass so much that it makes little sense to do otherwise.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2010 at 9:49PM
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PRO
Windows on Washington Ltd

Forgot that part Sky. Well said.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2010 at 9:28AM
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xoldtimecarpenter

Well, Alex's mom beat the 10-year average for failing seals - so that's something.

Why do you guys think dual pane replacement glass is not a "window" as defined by the Recovery Act, and therefore eligible for the federal tax credit. I think it is. With argon fill and an applied low-e screen, it should beat the 30/30 requirement - and its quite a bit less expensive than a sash pack.

Regards,

    Bookmark   August 30, 2010 at 9:51PM
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skydawggy

Because the entire window unit has to be tested, not just the glass. I'm sure if a homeowner wanted to remove the whole window and pay the tens of thousands of dollars to get it certified, they could get the tax credit.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2010 at 10:31PM
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xoldtimecarpenter

skydawggy,

Replacement panes need to meet certain IECC requirements in order to qualify for tax credits, but are not required to have a manufacturer's certification or to be themselves tested, as you imply. Reliance on generally accepted testing data for like elements is sufficient. Sealed dual glazing has been tested, tested and retested and test results are generally available. Almost any low-e coated dual glazing will meet the 30/30 standard and is qualified for the credit.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2010 at 2:24PM
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PRO
Windows on Washington Ltd

Seems pretty straight forward here.

Windows...yes
Films...yes
Sash kits...no

Here is a link that might be useful: Energy Star Criteria

    Bookmark   September 9, 2010 at 10:16PM
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