Window Problems - COLD!

pmsmith2032September 26, 2013

I am hoping someone might be able to provide me with some help on how to help with drafty windows. The windows in question are single hung Crestline windows (white vinyl on the inside and outside) installed by our builder about seven years ago when we had our house built. Our house has 2x6 walls , vinyl siding and did have a house wrap if that matters at all. The builder has since gone bankrupt so I can no longer contact them. We did contact Crestline directly a number of years ago and they sent out a service rep who said it was a framing issue and did do some caulking around the inside of the frames.
I expressed to the builder at the time that I did not want these windows but they stated this is the only windows they offered. Anyway, now we are stuck with bad windows. On cold days during winter, a noticable breeze can be felt coming in around all windows (in some places the breeze is strong enough to extinguish a lighter).
Unfortunately we can't afford new windows at this time. However, I would like to do whatever possible on a very limitied budget to improve their efficiency. Any tips/advice/suggestions will be greatly appreciated!

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windowsonwashington

Where is the air draft coming from. Operating window components or between the windows and the wall.

Picture of the interior will help get a more focused answer.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2013 at 11:04AM
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pmsmith2032

From what I've been able to tell (unfortunately I can't check now as the weather isn't cold) it's coming between the wall and the windows. I will take some pictures and post this evening. Thanks for the response!

    Bookmark   September 26, 2013 at 11:17AM
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HomeSealed

"framing issues" is a ridiculous response. Is it possible that they were installed poorly? Absolutely. In fact, the fact that a builder would offer that product tells me that he is cutting corners on cost, which could easily carry over to the install. There is probably a good reason that he is out of business.

What can you do now? I can tell you what I would not do, is spend much time or $$$ on these existing units. You'll never get the performance or return that you'd like. Make sure that the area around the opening is sealed, and then you should probably plastic them up every winter until you can afford to replace them. Alternatively, you could look into an interior storm panel, but those are still somewhat of an investment.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2013 at 11:58AM
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pmsmith2032

Thanks! I really wanted better windows but we liked the design of the house (it was our first house) so we decided to go with the builder. Looking back on it now, maybe it wasn't the best choice, but it's water under the bridge now.

I'm not exactly sure how to seal around the window properly as the windows are "set into" the walls since we have 2x6 construction. Thee only wood around the windows is a wood ledge. The rest of the area around the windows is framed with drywall. I did notice a gap under the wood ledge that wasn't insulated when I was dealing with ant problem this past summer (I can take pictures tonight when I get home). Should that be filled with foam?

How are the plastic window kits now? I just remember the old kits that were around when we were kids....they always looked terrible. Are there better kits out now? Any suggestions? What exactly is an interior storm panel? Where could i buy them?

This post was edited by pmsmith2032 on Thu, Sep 26, 13 at 12:10

    Bookmark   September 26, 2013 at 12:07PM
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pmsmith2032

Here are some pics of the windows. Please ignore the dirt...they need to be cleaned:

Calk in corner that Crestline rep did:

Gap between ledge and drywall (usually vovered with piece of moulding:

Another pic of the gap:

Bottom corner of window and wood ledge:

Track window slides up and down on. To remove the window, you press this track in:

Where bottom and sash and top sash meet and lock together:

Picture of bottom ledge and lower half of sinfle hung window:

Outside of window surrounded by stone:

Window surrounded by vinyl siding:

Front of house

Bottom of bottom sash:

Bottom sash hald open...you can see the bottom of the top sash in the middle of the picture:

Bottom of window:

Bottom corner of window:

Inside picture of laundry room window:

    Bookmark   September 27, 2013 at 11:15AM
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HomeSealed

It appears as though there is no insulation around the windows which is a red flag. At this point, you can't do much as a diy except spray low expansion foam in those gaps that are accessible. Then caulk around the interior where the drywall meets the window frame, and where that stool board meets the window as well.
The window films are the same as they always were. They can look okay if you do a good job installing them, but are definitely a pain to do. There are various makers of interior storm units, just search the web. I believe that Larson makes one, but again there is no shortage of options out there.... I dont know that I'd invest in that option however as you are going to be needing to replace those units in the coming years regardless. Bad window + bad install = short lifespan.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2013 at 1:34PM
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windowsonwashington

+1 to everything that HomeSealed said.

Bad install and poor product is a terrible combo.

You can certainly help your situation out with the existing windows by revising the install but I don't see that solving the entirety of the problem.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2013 at 2:37PM
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pmsmith2032

Thanks. Our gameplan as of now is to fill in big cracks with foam and caulk around the frames. Should we consider replacing/adding weatherstriiping? Any thoughts of sealing the majority of them with seal n peal by DAP?

    Bookmark   September 27, 2013 at 2:45PM
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windowsonwashington

Not sure that the windows are really good candidates for additional investment.

Stick to the caulk and foam and you should be good.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2013 at 10:41AM
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oldfixer

I bet you could invest a few bucks, and put the window film on the inside of one 'bad' window, which merely has double stick tape to your inside window trim. And you probably wouldn't notice any air movement of the plastic, so the window itself isn't leaking. Why replace it? Someone else could install a different window badly too. Removing the trim indicates where you are seeing the gaps, and leaks. Keep going with various ways to seal/insulate those gaps. A bit of labor for you, but not a massive investment. Terrible way to quit smoking, if your lighter blows out. Good luck.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2013 at 5:32PM
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pmsmith2032

With the cold weather I've done some more investigation. It seems the windows are actually leaking between the sash and the window frame. I notice no drafts around the upper sash (non-movable....single hung) but air around all the "cracks" between the moving bottom sash and the frame. I also noticed that the gap between the frame and sash on the sides is not uniform from top to bottom. This suggests a framing issue I would imagine. Anyway, I can replace the weatherstripping on the bottom (I'm going to test with paper) bit what do I use on the sides and top? Is there some sort of weatherstripping that will work (they are vinyl so can't be nailed)? Can the tracks on the sides be adjusted? I tried the removable caulk but it did no work well (Isn't very soluble and just seemed to clump). Thanks!

    Bookmark   February 6, 2014 at 11:25AM
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windowsonwashington

That is not typically indicative of a framing issue as much as it indicates and installation issue.

You can purchase the open cell foam weatherstripping and probably close up some of the good sized gaps but the measures are temporary and analogous to trying to fix a leak in a dam with bubble gum.

While good intentioned...largely doomed.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2014 at 11:40AM
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pmsmith2032

Thanks! What about homemade storm windows? Ideally I was thinking of making some with a wood frame and acrylic, but the acrylic seems expensive. Now I am thinking a wood frame with the plastic sheeting from one of the window kits.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2014 at 12:07PM
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windowsonwashington

That could work if you are comfortable looking at it.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2014 at 12:12PM
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pmsmith2032

Is some window kits better then others? Would a different type of plastic sheeting be clearer?

    Bookmark   February 6, 2014 at 12:15PM
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windowsonwashington

Sheeting will be clearer based on its thinner gauge.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2014 at 12:48PM
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pmsmith2032

Like this:

http://www.menards.com/main/doors-windows/weather-stripping/wj-dennis-indoor-clear-bulk-shrink-film-weatherstrip/p-2122537-c-3624.htm

or this:

http://www.menards.com/main/paint/drop-cloths-plastic-sheeting/poly-film/polar-plastics-1-mil-clear-poly-all-purpose-plastic-sheeting-9-x-250-roll/p-1497075-c-8188.htm

    Bookmark   February 6, 2014 at 12:53PM
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windowsonwashington

The shrink film (option 1 link).

    Bookmark   February 6, 2014 at 2:29PM
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pmsmith2032

I've been doing some more thinking and think replacing/updating the weatherstripping might be the best and cheapest first step. I believe the sashes have the "fuzzy" pile weatherstripping (I know on the bottom and I think on the sides and top). I know it's probably pretty worn but the windows have leaked since they were installed (seven years ago). Anyway, I am going to stop at Menards on the way home tonight......what kind of weatherstripping should I buy? Keep in mind that the windows are Crestline vinyl single hung. Thanks!

    Bookmark   February 6, 2014 at 2:36PM
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HomeSealed_WI

If the window is not square, replacing the weatherstripping is not likely going to fix that. If you buy some oversized stuff that will close the gaps up, it will be too tight in other areas and probably inhibit the operation.
At this point, I'd reiterate my advice from earlier in the thread: Replace the windows, or if that is not in the budget, do a storm panel or the window film. I'd go with the film if you think that you may be able to swing replacements in the next few years.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2014 at 3:49PM
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windowsonwashington

+1

If they are falling apart and installed improperly...don't spend too much energy on fixing them.

Insulate and air seal your attic. That will save you more money and slow down the drafts.

If you want to put up the shrink wrap, that can be done cost effectively and while pretty visually off putting, does work.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2014 at 3:57PM
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pmsmith2032

Thanks! I know the insulation was R-38 in the ceiling. What else should I check in the attic and how do I air seel it?

    Bookmark   February 6, 2014 at 4:23PM
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windowsonwashington

http://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/blogs/dept/musings/air-sealing-attic

Here is a link that might be useful: Air Sealing

    Bookmark   February 6, 2014 at 5:17PM
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HomeSealed_WI

Good advice from WoW. Air sealing the attic will return a great bang for the buck in improved efficiency, as well as reduce the stress on the windows... A few more inches of insulation wouldn't hurt while you're at it. Depending where you are located, cooler climates are R49-50 code.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2014 at 5:46PM
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pmsmith2032

Thanks. I'm located in the suburbs of Chicago so I'm not sure what code call for.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2014 at 6:20PM
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HomeSealed_WI

Same as here in Milwaukee. You really want r50 or better with proper air sealing.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2014 at 9:02PM
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pmsmith2032

Thanks. Our great room has cathedral ceilings. I'm assuming there is not much I can do about that?

    Bookmark   February 6, 2014 at 11:20PM
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windowsonwashington

You have to look in the attic. Some are accessible and still vented. Others are considered "Hot" roofs.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2014 at 8:15AM
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pmsmith2032

Thanks. I'm going to try to get up there this weekend and take some pictures. I think we're going to seal the windows with window film for now and see how it works/looks for the remainder of the year. I'm debating though whether to just apply the film directly to the frames with the tape or create interior storm windows with it. Applying it directly to the frame would definitely be easier and probably more efficient (better seal) but I'm not sure how it would work with the ledge (handle). The storm windows would be nice because I could use them multiple years, but would be more work initially and not as efficient. Thoughts?

    Bookmark   February 7, 2014 at 9:05AM
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HomeSealed_WI

The cathedral ceilings could be dense packed with cellulose to improve r-value, creating a "hot roof" as WoW alluded to. On the window film, I'd apply it to the casing (or sheetrock if there is no casing).
Storms would be a superior solution, but again, more costly.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2014 at 9:48AM
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pmsmith2032

Thanks. I like the idea of applying the film to the sheetrock. However, we have 2x6 wall construction so the blinds are mounted inside the opening. By applying the film outside the opening, we would not be able to operate the blinds.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2014 at 9:57AM
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HomeSealed_WI

I guess that answers that question then, lol... The main down side to going on the frame of the window (and to storms for that matter) is that it won't address any possible air leakage coming in around the frame. Hopefully that is not a big problem for you though.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2014 at 11:46AM
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pmsmith2032

Thanks! Do you think the handle will be a problem though or will the film just conform around it?

    Bookmark   February 7, 2014 at 12:09PM
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pmsmith2032

So I went up in the attic today and took some pictures.

Insulation on top of drywall cover to attic:

Another picture of insulation on drywall cover (looks like dirt which I'm assuming signals air leak around the cover)

Area toward front of house (you can see part of an exposed pipe which I believe runs to the air duct in the ceiling of the laundry room - i think it's foil ducting):

Looking north towards master bedroom and masterbath:

Area towards the vaulted ceiling great room:

Area towards south west corner bedrrom. This bedroom has a ceiling that goes up approximately a foot in the middle and is furthest from the furnace:

Vents at top peak of the house. I believe there might be a few more running town the peak towards the north but I couldn't tell for sure:

Only 6" here:

About 14" here:

View of the drywall attic cover from below:

Toward southeast corner. Very uneven (low and high spots). Not sure what caused this:

Looking down from attic:

This is the first time I've been up in our attic so I'm not really sure what I'm looking for. Any help is appreciated!

    Bookmark   February 9, 2014 at 9:34PM
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windowsonwashington

Insulation levels look pretty good.

Pull some insulation back where it is above an interior wall.

Blown in fiberglass does nothing to stop air leakage in this case.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2014 at 6:42AM
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pmsmith2032

Thanks! That brings up a couple other questions though:

1. So the areas where there are only 6 to 8" of insulation are okay (I thought that was only around R20?)? And I thought 14" is only R38 and it is now recommended to have at least R49 in Chicago?

2. How can I tell if there are other air leaks? Do I just look for pipes leading down and then dig the insulation up around them?

3. I think the HVAC vents leading down into the ceiling in one of the bathrooms and laundry room are just foil ducting (or similar)....should they be tin or is this okay? Shouldn't they be totally covered in insulation (I've noticed the air coming out of the one in the laundry room is slightly cooler then the rest of the room when the heat isn't on).

4. Is the venting in the attic okay? Not sure what is recommended.

5. I couldn't tell if the insulation in the vaulted ceiling is accessible.....what should I be looking for?

6. What do you mean by pulling some insulation back where it is above an interior wall? What am I looking for?

7. What's the best way to insulate around the attic access panel?

8. When navigating in the attic I know it is best to use plywood but it seems like that would require a lot of plywood (I know I'd cut it in 2' strips). How think should the plywood be? How do I insulate over it?

Thanks again!

    Bookmark   February 10, 2014 at 9:32AM
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HomeSealed_WI

1) R49 + is correct. Your levels are not nearly as bad as many that I see, but you could use some additional material. I'm sure that WoW was just referring to the fact that a couple additional inches is not your biggest issue. The areas that are only 6-8" however are a significant deficit.
2)Look up attic airsealing on buildingscience.com, and on Youtube. You'll find very detailed of the what and how.
3) Rigid ducting wrapped in insulation is best.
4) Rule of thumb is 1:300. One sq ft of ventilation for every 300 sq ft of area. Of course that is the GENERAL rule, so it depends on other factors as well. Are your soffit vents clear, or buried in loose insulation?
5)Can you see those areas from behind a kneewall (crawlspace)? Generally that work is done by cutting small holes in the drywall and patching.
6) I believe WoW is referring to the top plates. These areas typically have air leakage in the gap between the drywall and the framing.
7) Build a box with rigid foam to keep loose insulation from falling in. The lid itself can be insulated with batting or rigid foam to the appropriate level, then add weatherstripping and latches to seal tightly. Window locks work well.
8) We don't typically add permanent "tracks", but just have a plank or two to move around on.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2014 at 3:05PM
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windowsonwashington

HomeSealed.....

    Bookmark   February 10, 2014 at 6:42PM
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pmsmith2032

I went up in the attic again last night and it looks like there is a baffle running up between every other joist and there seems to be plenty of soffit vents. I also checked and the material on top is Certain-Teed and it is very easily compressed. Underneath the layer of certain-teed are bats of insulation with the vapor barrier facing down. I think it's going to be very difficult to do the sealing with all the pre-existing insulation.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2014 at 11:15AM
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windowsonwashington

Its not that difficult if you work with it all the time.

These are typically jobs that are best left to the pros for just these type of situations.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2014 at 11:23AM
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