Return to the Windows Forum | Post a Follow-Up

 o
Rotting pella windows

Posted by jimt (My Page) on
Tue, Jun 12, 12 at 20:37

Hi all,

I have 12 year old house, with all Pella windows. They are aluminum clad on the outside and wood on the inside. Last year the sliding glass door had a bunch of rot on the bottom rail. The seal between the glass and the rail had failed, allowing water to get between the cladding and the wood. Last week, I was cleaning a window and the entire bottom rail came off. It was completely rotted under the aluminum. It looks like the seal had failed, just like the slider.

Is this a common problem with Pella windows? The frame of the window is fine. Can I replace the window itself? It is a double hung window. I can't find the unit number or the serial number of the window.

Thanks for your help.


Follow-Up Postings:

 o
RE: Rotting pella windows

Unfortunately, you are not the first person to deal with this issue and you have zero recourse with the manufacturer now given that you are outside the given warranty terms.

If you search on this board, you will find a bunch of stories just like yours.


 o
RE: Rotting pella windows

+1. Proper maintenance on a wood window is imperative, but the roll-formed cladding on that product presents its own set of challenges... I've replaced them in as few as 5 years.


 o
RE: Rotting pella windows

Personally I would replace then window and buy a better brand like a Kolbe or Marvin or the very least something that is all EXTRUDED Aluminum clad.


 o
RE: Rotting pella windows

I would recommend calling the manufacturer HQ directly and pressing for assistence. Be persistent.

Unfortunately, the wood preservatives availble to the window industry in the 90s were (it is now known) not very effective. Anything produced by anybody from the late 80s (when Penta was eliminated) to the early 00s, are at much greater risk for wood decay, in my opinion. Fortunately, the entire industry is on to much better stuff now (the woodlife 111 platform and TruCore, for example). Some producers, like Jeld-Wen (w/Auralast) and Pella (w/EnduraGuard) have proprietary treatments that extend performance even further.


 o
RE: Rotting pella windows

While I agree on the wood preservative issue the fact remains that roll form aluminum is a poor exterior cladding and remains a good part of the problem. My feeling is great with Auralast or EnduraGuard in a Jeldwen or Pella window the wood may not rot but the rest of the window will fall apart and still need to be replaced before a window should need to be replaced.


 o
RE: Rotting pella windows

Well, design details matter enormously. Extrusion is thicker than rollform (.045" vs .023"). As a result, the corners really must be butt jointed; roll form, on the other hand, must be lap jointed at the end. I've seen good and bad joint designs with each (butt and lap). You really need to dig under the hood to understand robustness(sealant type, sealant details, design redundencies, and water management approaches). I think its far too simplistic to say extruded is good and roll formed is bad. Either could be either.


 o
RE: Rotting pella windows

Very true but I was mainly speaking of a quality product like a Marvin or Kolbe product when speaking of extruded. There are some companies making extruded clad windows that are only marginally better than a screen.


 o
RE: Rotting pella windows

Timely:
I just yesterday 6/15 replaced a double casement Pella clad unit from 1986, and salvaged the fixed side to repair another window where that sash had also rotted. This is on a small office park, so even their commercial line was not immune. There are at least two other rotted fixed sash I spotted. This 2-story building has probably 200K worth of windows.
It's my feeling that the sealant used on the cladding was at fault, and with the cladding masking the problem you don't know until it's too late.
Casey


 o
RE: Rotting pella windows

You never know until it is too late and the reality is that the windows are hardly serviceable. You are mostly relegated to doing like you did and salvaging parts from other "donor" windows.

While I agree that if a window were properly designed, the cladding thickness would have little to do with the end game performance, I think where and how a manufacturer chooses to spend their money on the window is a far greater indicator of that manufacturer approach to construction.


 o
RE: Rotting pella windows

Hello jimt,
After reviewing your comments, I recommend contacting your local Pella Windows and Doors Store to schedule a service appointment, or discuss with you the repairs necessary to correct this issue. Their location is responsible for arranging service visits for your area and has experienced technicians that will be in the best position to evaluate your project and offer the best solution. Since your location information is not listed on your profile, please visit our website to find the contact information for your local store. We trust your local service center will be able to assist you.

Hillary B., Pella Community Manager


 o
RE: Rotting pella windows

Hey JimT..... I ask that you let us know how you make out after following PellaCommMgmnt's recommendation for how Pella can help you in this Pella window failure.
Most of what I have read is they will request up front $$ for a service call by a technician. Then go through the song and dance that the windows are out of warranty. Then continue to ignore your comments on that the window cladding was a design flaw.
Then offer to sell you replacement windows at some so called reduced price with you footing the labor.
I had similiar issues: windows installed 1999 and rot discovered 2011.
Looking forward to what help they are going to propose.


 o
RE: Rotting pella windows

Sadly, I am reading here because over half of my 12 year old Marvin's are rotting at the bottom and sides. I was shocked when I opened this window. This one is the worst, but many others are headed this way. I am looking for information and advise. Marvin will send me new sashes. I will pay to install, and repaint. At least this is of some good news. Haven't told my husband yet. ugh!


 o
RE: Rotting pella windows

Wowsers. That is a bunch of rot.

If Marvin is replacing their sashes, that is a nice commentary on them being that 12 years is outside the normal coverage timetable on a wood window.

Swapping out the sashes should not be that hard and once you have done one or two, you will be a pro at it.


 o
RE: Rotting pella windows

+1. Note to consumers in the market for wood windows: They are beautiful, but THEY REQUIRE MAINTENANCE, regardless of how well they are constructed. If you get them installed and forget about them for 10-12 years, they will look like the pic above unless you are lucky. That is not a commentary for or against wood windows overall, just a warning that they need attention every so often.


 o
RE: Rotting pella windows

In all honesty and I am a Marvin fan but I would make certain you investigate and see if you have a leaking issue that may have cause the issue as that is awfully large amount of rot for not having another potential water issue.


 o
RE: Rotting pella windows

+2. Wood windows do not get that bad overnight. If you are not willing or able to do what's necessary to maintain them, then it's better to look at fiberglass, vinyl or a composite.

I'm also curious about whether this is an installation issue. It's possible for that to happen if the sash is not adjusted correctly. Looks like water seeped between the sash and frame and became trapped along the bottom over a long period of time.


 o
RE: Rotting pella windows

I have since learned that the aluminum cladding is like a vapor barrier. The windows cannot "breath" which causes them to rot from the inside. My painted windows show this more clearly. When the windows are locked and not opened very often, the moisture is trapped and the rotting occurs sight unseen.

I'm guessing they should be opened on dry cool days and even left unlocked for air to move around more often. Add that to my list of things to do. My old house had 60 year old leaded glass windows. Not air tight, but not rotted in 11-12 years.


 o
RE: Rotting pella windows

I don't know about that, it may be a contributing factor but it should still not rot like that without another water infiltration issue in my mind.


 o
RE: Rotting pella windows

To elaborate further, it depends upon the success of the wood preservative that is used to defend against this moisture lock. In northern climates where air temperatures fluctuate to such large degrees, moisture is drawn out of the air in either direction. In 2004, Marvin Windows won a lawsuit against PPG, the wood preservative manufacturer. As I scan the internet, however, this inside out rotting problem is not confined to Marvin, nor is it confined to merely a few years of a defective wood preservative. It seems to be a flaw in the whole idea of cladding.

Note to home owners, if your hardware is showing signs of rust, you have a potential window failure on hand. Because the wood rots from the INSIDE OUT, you will NOT see the problem, even if you open to clean annually, like I do. They appeared to be in perfect condition. My seals are all pliable and in tact. In my photo of the stained sash in an earlier post, you can see how perfectly the surface looks where it did not pull away. With this window, I simply opened it one day and the whole thing was like driftwood. Better inspection would be to feel along the bottom of the sash for soft spots between the finished wood and the cladding or look for any slight discoloration of paint.

Marvin is replacing the sashes (one time offer) Still, I have to repaint, restain, and live with the knowledge that I have another 10-12 years? I will be maintaining my windows now with the mantra, "Let them Breath" Now we know.


 o
RE: Rotting pella windows

multitasker, I won't completely disagree with what you have to say, as windows can indeed rot from the inside out. (products with roll formed cladding seem to have a higher rate as opposed to extruded exteriors from what I've seen). That said, in my experience of visiting homes and looking at bad windows multiple times per day, every day, it is far more common to see problems that originated with failure to keep up on the interior finish, and the sunlight and moisture (mostly from condensation) wreak havoc on the wood.
After a second look at the pics that does not appear to be the case in your situation. As mentioned above, they almost appear to have been water-logged.
The theory that the cladding acted as a "moisture barrier" and did not allow it to escape can make sense on some levels, but the edge of the glass is going to be the coldest spot on the window and is where condensation would manifest first. There does not appear to be water damage on the edge of the wood on the bottom rail where it comes in contact with the glass. The only reason that moisture would first appear around the sash edge is if you have some major air leakage, but if that was the case the moisture would be allowed to escape like it did with the old leaky windows that you had previously... There may be some other issue here (installation related or otherwise) that simply replacing the sashes will not fix.


 o
RE: Rotting pella windows

I agree. This doesn't look like a cladding related issue. It looks like an install issue as I previously noted. It is also possible the compression seal degraded or was torn somehow. It's very likely water became trapped between the sash and frame somehow.


 o
RE: Rotting pella windows

Thank you for your comments and insight. Perhaps you are right. I do know that 15 of 21 sashes are in varying stages of decay. The good ones are in perfect condition. The rotting is either at the bottom corners, (usually the hinge side) or on the under side. They were installed by the Marvin Dealer installers in 1999. Also, they are extruded aluminum, primed and painted with Oil paint or stained and sealed with polyurethane. The worst damage is on the West and North sides, with the least damage on the east.

I suspected the seals, but they are pliable, not buckled or damaged. The windows that I routinely open are damage free, hence the thought that moisture was trapped. The sills and wood that houses the hinges are in perfect shape. The internet is riddled with rotted wood stories. I just hope Marvin has improved it's technology.


 o
RE: Rotting pella windows

I mentioned this a bit earlier, but the entire industry uses much better wood preservatives than were available in the 90s...Marvin included. I personally don't feel regular venting of windows is needed or even beneficial.


 o
RE: Rotting pella windows

+1

This was not a vapor issue. This is a bulk water or installation issue.

Windows (as components themselves) do not need to breathe.


 o
RE: Rotting pella windows

Most wood windows do not have weep holes. What is probably happening (and I have seen it ) is that water is being trapped because the seal between the glass and the cladding has deteriorated. The water has no where to go so it rots the sash. Put a business card between the glass and the sash and if you get no resistance, the sealant is gone. Run a bead of clear silicon along the horizontal and up each vertical leg enough to keep water out. Also check the bottom of the sash to see if it has been painted or stained. You can do this with a mirror. If it hasn't, chances are the top and maybe even the sides weren't done. Get the windows painted now before the wet weather sets in. These simple steps should help prevent long term problems if you don't already have them.


 o
RE: Rotting pella windows

JIMT, I didn't have the time to read this entire thread but I had Pella sliding doors that rotted out on the bottom. The doors were 15 + yrs. old. We contacted Pella and they sent us replacement doors/parts. We had to pay for labor. It is my understanding that they changed the way the doors were made since this was a problem.


 o
RE: Rotting pella windows

In inspecting the photo of the rotted bottom rail of the sash, I notice a dark line where the sash closes into the frame. Above this line is a darkened stain from water. This should have been evident way before the rotting, and would have been a good indicator that something was amiss - that water was present where it should not be. That would have been a good thing to have not ignored.

I agree with the folks here. Water looks like it got behind the sash from above, and then sat trapped at the bottom.

I also would like to suggest another possibility. This looks very much to me like possible insect damage. I have seen this before, where opening a window that had not been opened in a long time revealed a colony of wood eating ants. I have seen whole houses munched on by insects, and termites are not the only culprits.

I should add that if no insects were present when this was discovered that does not mean that for some reason they didn't flee on their own.

Just saying that is another possibility. You want to make very certain about this, because if it might likely be the case, then you will want to make sure to have your house treated by professional pest people.

I've never seen that kind of rot in a window unless there was a major leak of some kind. You should have your attic and roof inspected to make sure there is not water running down the walls and getting trapped above the window frames and working down into the frame behind the sash. I have seen that happen many times.

Other than those things, my only other comment would be towards the wood and the preservative. The reason old windows don't rot isn't because they were better. It's because they were made out of old growth trees. They were slower growing, had denser rings and harder cores. Trees now are fast growing re-forested trees and the wood is very very soft. It plays a factor in moisture absorbency.

Wood must be maintained, including the bottom. I suspect a leak more than anything. And failure to check the windows out once in a while, open them up and clean them out and make sure everything is ok.


 o
RE: Rotting pella windows

UPDATE: Marvin Windows is replacing EVERY sash even though we are two years past our warranty. It turns out that the wood preservative used the year my windows were made was bad. Even the fixed picture windows were rotted. After prying away the panel at the bottom of every fixed window, the rot existed on the bottom, particularly in the corners. So the failure was a manufacturing problem. I DID open nearly every window every year to clean so I didn't think inattention was an issue.

I have to pay for the install and new paint and stain, but as I read online, I am getting a better deal than those in years past.

thanks for everyone's opinion, but the fault was bad preservative.
I am grateful that Marvin has been very pleasant to work with thus far. The new sashes are to be delivered in late March - post winter.


 o
RE: Rotting pella windows

Good news and good for you. Another reason pros like and recommend Marvin as they will behind their product, even when technically their product did not fail.


 o
RE: Rotting pella windows

+1

Great outcome here.

Glad to see they are stepping up.


 o
RE: Rotting pella windows

Andersen replaced millions of double hung sash that had a similar problem with NO WARRANTY.


 o
RE: Rotting pella windows

Sold Andersen for years and I have never heard of such a "similar" issue?


 o
RE: Rotting pella windows

Neither have I


 o
RE: Rotting pella windows

3rd that hasn't heard of this either.


 o
RE: Rotting pella windows

UPDATE: I posted the photos above of rotted Marvin case master Alum. Clad sash.
My 1999 windows failed due to a poorly engineered GLAZING BEAD. The windows were re-engineered sometime in the mid 2000's. Marvin has replaced all of my sash. They have just been delivered and are waiting installation. I am having to pay for the delivery, installation and painting of my new sash. All in all, I am I guess I feel lucky compared to other customers.

Marvin has been excellent to deal with thus far. I'll post one more time after installation.


 o
RE: Rotting pella windows

Excellent, glad this is working out for you and as I stated another reason we recommend Marvin products. (On another note still waiting for for jumppilotmdm's reply on the rotting Andersen sash being replaced?)


 o
RE: Rotting pella windows

Good update.

Keep us posted and I am glad to see Marvin step up.

Solid company and certainly part of the reason that they are often recommended.


 o
RE: Rotting pella windows

+1. Great example of how all manufacturers should treat their customers.


 o Post a Follow-Up

Please Note: Only registered members are able to post messages to this forum.

    If you are a member, please log in.

    If you aren't yet a member, join now!


Return to the Windows Forum

Information about Posting

  • You must be logged in to post a message. Once you are logged in, a posting window will appear at the bottom of the messages. If you are not a member, please register for an account.
  • Please review our Rules of Play before posting.
  • Posting is a two-step process. Once you have composed your message, you will be taken to the preview page. You will then have a chance to review your post, make changes and upload photos.
  • After posting your message, you may need to refresh the forum page in order to see it.
  • Before posting copyrighted material, please read about Copyright and Fair Use.
  • We have a strict no-advertising policy!
  • If you would like to practice posting or uploading photos, please visit our Test forum.
  • If you need assistance, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help.


Learn more about in-text links on this page here