new window - scratched glass

gibby2015December 20, 2006

I just got some new windows and doors installed. This work got done over several visits - the last of which included cleaning excess paint/varnish off the glass, touching up trim pieces, etc. After this last visit, one of the windows now has scratches in the glass - a couple of them about 6 inches long right at eye level.

I couldn't believe they did this - I didn't think it was that easy to scratch glass - I've never had this happen with any of my old windows and I've used all kinds of razor blades to scrape pine sap, etc. off the glass. I'm thinking this may have something to do with the fact this particular window is tempered glass - could that be - are they more susceptible to scratches?

So - I'm thinking there's no way to "remove" scratches in glass is there? Also thinking they can "fix" this by replacing the glass - not the entire window unit? Can you replace the glass pane in a Marvin window and not compromise the window or the warranty?

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There are ways to remove scratches that really work. They are not DIY because the equipment is expensive and the operator needs training and a level of experience to do it right...but it is available and it beats replacing the glass.

Some window cleaners like using 6" razor blades to "clean" glass. They also often have homeowners sign wavers against holding the cleaner responsible for scratches because the cleaner knows ahead of time that he will likely scratch the glass - especially if it is tempered.

There is one particular cleaner who has a web-site and who brags about knowingly ruining entire households of windows - after having the homeowner sign his waver - and who then finds it interesting to watch the window company and the homeowner fight it out over who is responsible - amazing really. As he sits back and claims that he has the "right" to use a razor blade to clean windows - despite the fact that he knows ahead of time that he will damage the windows - because a razor blade makes his job easier. A copy of his "scratch-waver" is available on his site, btw, for other cleaners to copy.

The glass industry strongly recommends using razor blades to clean glass. In fact, it can void a warranty. The 5 or 6 inch blades that the cleaners use are exceptionally bad because it is technique that often makes a difference whether the glass will be scratched or not and technique using those things often goes right out the window (sorry about the pun).

Did the cleaners have you sign a waver covering scratched glass? If not, you may have some recourse against them. If nothing else, they may possibly have them pay for scratch removal but it may take a fight.

You can find scratch removal folks in the yellow pages - some glass shops offer this service.

Ask them what system they use. If their system uses cerium oxide or a material called trizact, then the system that they use will remove additional glass and will almost certainly create an unacceptable lens-effect in your glass. There are distortion-free systems available - but not ones that use either cerium or trizact that will distort the glass.

And btw, the particular cleaner who apparently likes scratching glass...well, he sells a brand of scratch removal equipment on his web site...go figure.

Finally, pass this information to your Marvin dealer. Have him contact Marvin for further action. It is very possible Marvin will say that they are not responsible and they will not become involved - BUT - try it anyway.

Good luck

    Bookmark   December 21, 2006 at 8:24AM
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Actually this is a new window and it is the installation people who scratched it - not window cleaners. It was their guy who was scraping excess paint/varnish off the glass.

So what I'm wondering is what their options are for fixing it - and which option is in my best interests. The people who installed it were referred to me by Marvin - this company sells Marvin windows and also does their warranty work in my area.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2006 at 1:59PM
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Oops, my mistake! One may assume by my rather (unintentional) animated answer that I have dealt with this particualr issue now and then...

Anyway, you really have two options - replace the glass or remove the scratch from the glass.

There would be no reason to remove the entire window since it isn't that difficult to remove the IG from the sash and replace just the IG...these guys should be able to do it and they can get the replacement glass directly from Marvin.

The other option of simply buffing out the scratch is possible - but might actually be more expensive than replacing the glass.

Again, if they suggest that they can buff or polish out the scratches; first find out what method they are considering and then make sure that you actually see and are happy with the results before you accept that the scratches have been removed.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2006 at 5:53PM
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Thanks oberon - my guess is they'll just remove the glass and replace. I'm assuming that won't wreck the window - I imagine they have done that many times since they do warranty work. They've already had to tear out two doors and reinstall due to some misunderstandings and I thought I was about done - only to find the big scratches in the glass. I thought about just ignoring it but it really bugs me. A new window shouldn't have that - especially since my 30 year old window didn't. I want the new one to be better - not worse.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2006 at 8:06PM
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Update - for anyone else who might care about this topic. I ended up with two scratched windows. One was just a plain picture window and they replaced the glass. The other was a stained glass type window in an arts/crafts style door. They had someone come out and buff out that scratch. That worked amazingly well. Overall I was very impressed with how committed the company was to resolving the problems.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2007 at 6:29PM
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Windows on Washington

Good to hear the replacement company did right by their work.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2007 at 9:32PM
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Also another quick note about Tempered Glass. It's not really made to be safely handled as much as it's made to break safer. It's all about the breakage and dropping shards that can severely injure you. The small squares of glass are much easier to endure when they fall on your arm. They bounce off and hit the ground, the non tempered glass shards tend to stick! I have the scars to show you the difference.

As an installer it's our job to know the proper way to clean our product. The biggest mistake made is cleaning glass with a razor blade on a dry surface. If we have anything on glass to be scraped off we always use rubbing alcohol to wet the surface before cleaning. It lubricates the blade so those microscopic grains won't get caught under the blade.

I'm also glad to hear they fixed your windows. Great post!

    Bookmark   October 25, 2007 at 7:20AM
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I am offended by OberonÂs comments.

I have been a window cleaner for over 30 years and my company cleans millions of windows every year including using 6" scrapers to remove paint, etc. from newly installed windows.

I can tell you unequivocally that such metal razor scrapers do not scratch glass. In fact in the past we have had a glass company rep in my office and we have tried to scratch glass with such razor scrapers and could not make it happen, I challenge Oberon to scratch some glass with a razor scraper alone.

In addition; poor quality heat strengthened glass that has fabrication debris embedded in the glass surface due to poor handling/cleaning at the tempering company can not be cleaned of typical construction debris without scratching it. Even 0000 steel wool, as used by professionals, can scratch such glass. What happens is the hardened glass dust breaks off and gets trapped in the cleaning tool, -- rag, steel wool, razor, window mop, etc. and scratches the glass. If you face this situation the fault is not with the cleaner, be it a contractor, housekeeper or window cleaner, itÂs with the tempering company.

About the only way to clean such glass without causing scratches is with a hose, which is not at all effective on construction debris.

I would be interested to know how Oberon would suggest effectively cleaning such glass. I have been asking the glass industry for years, their suggestion is to not get the glass dirty!

Your contractor should specify when ordering tempered glass that the surfaces be free of such fabrication debris; there are glass companies that reliably put out a quality product that can be effectively cleaned, and there are those that donÂt.

Steve Miller

    Bookmark   November 21, 2007 at 10:15AM
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Hi Gibby,

Did Marvin send someone out to buff the glass or was it the installer? Was it a company that was hired? If it was a company, I'd really appreciate their contact information.

We paid $27,000 for Bonelli Windows last year, and the tempered glass got badly scratched the first time we hired a window washer. It was only the tempered glass that got scratched, so we are fairly certain its a fabrication debris defect. The company denied our warranty claim without even coming out to look at the glass. It's so good to hear that Marvin took responsibility, and that your glass got fixed without extra cost to you.

We are looking into the possibility of hiring someone ourselves to buff out the glass, if it's possible. Our scratches are all over the surface, and some are quite deep.


    Bookmark   October 22, 2008 at 5:11PM
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And if you scratch tempered glass deep enough you will not be worrying about removing the scratch, the glass will simply shatter into crumbs in an instant.

Even polishing tempered must be done carefully to avoid going through the temper layer in the surface of the glass.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2009 at 3:14PM
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