Friday, June 14, 2013

Lead Paint and Replacing Windows in Minnesota

New EPA lead paint safety rules and regulations
When replacing windows in a house built before 1978, any debris containing lead paint must be handled according to EPA regulations.  As of April 22, 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began enforcing lead paint safety regulations on Renovations, Repairs and Painting  jobs (RRP jobs) on pre 1978 houses.  Commonly referred to as RRP Rules and Regulations.  Your window replacement contractor must be RRP certified by the EPA and at least 1 person on the crew must be certified as well.  This applies to all repair and paint jobs where lead paint is disturbed.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Why are My Double Pane Windows Fogged up in Minnesota?

As windows age, one of the problems that often shows up is moisture between the panes of glass (sometimes it even shows up as ice in MN).  The space between the 2 panes of glass in your thermopane window should be free of moisture and completely clear. When the seal fails, moisture enters the space between the panes and the window “fogs up” (or “ices up”).
The window then becomes less energy efficient and unsightly. It may be time for new windows.  Many beautiful, energy efficient windows are available and will make your home more comfortable to live in.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Eliminate Condensation on Your Windows in Minnesota

Eliminate Condensation on Your Windows in Minnesota

Water that condenses on the inside surface of windows in the wintertime can cause mold problems and discolor and ruin the finish on wood windows.  To solve this problem you need to allow more air movement near the window.    If that doesn’t solve the problem you need to lower the humidity in the house.  That might be as simple as turning the humidifier down or off.  It that doesn’t work, more drastic measures might be necessary.  You could run your bathroom fan(s) more often and crack open a few windows.  This will bring more fresh dry air into the house and lower the humidity.  Of course, your heat bill will go up a little.
If you have a bare concrete floor in the basement, that could be contributing significantly to the problem.  Two coats of vapor proof paint will eliminate that source of humidity.  If the floor is carpeted, water vapor from the floor could still be getting past the carpet.
Although expensive, installing more energy efficient windows, where the inside pane of glass stays warmer, can eliminate or minimize the condensation.  This will allow you to have higher humidity which feels better.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Bedroom Egress Windows in Minnesota

Egress Windows in Bedrooms in MN
At least one window in a bedroom needs to be an egress window. It's a minimum of glass area in square feet.  The egress requirement is based on a fireman being able to climb through the window.
If your windows don’t meet current egress requirements and you are replacing the windows without changing the size of the rough opening for the window, or changing the style of the window, you are not required to not enlarge the rough opening in the wall to allow an egress size window.  According to 2007 MN State Building Code, Chapter 1309 Section R310.1.5, the new window must be “the manufacturer’s largest standard size window that will fit within the existing window frame or existing rough opening.”

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Minimizing Condensation on Residential Windows in Minnesota

   All double pane windows that have an aluminum or stainless steel spacer between the panes of glass tend to have a condensation problem in the winter.  Moisture in the air will condense on a cold surface like a window.  The metallic spacer around the perimeter of the glass conducts heat to the outside.  This causes the inside pane of glass to get cold enough to condense moisture from the air.
   If  the windows are old and need replacing, you could get windows that have nonmetallic spacers.  If not, there are things you can do to minimize the condensation problem.  Remove the screens in the winter.  That will allow air movement against the window which will help evaporate the condensation as it forms.  Keep curtains open and if necessary direct a small fan at the window or install a ceiling fan in the room.  Any air movement will help minimize condensation.  Finally, if all else fails, you might have to lower the humidity in the house.  See my blog on controlling humidity inside the house.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Composite Windows vs Real Wood Windows in Minnesota

  One alternative to the solid wood window is a window made of a composite of sawdust, small chips of wood scraps and glue or resin to bind it together.  A large window manufacturer in Minnesota makes such a window.
I think it’s a great idea to utilize what would otherwise be a waste product.  The composite frame is covered on the inside with a real wood veneer that is stainable.   It looks like real wood except for the shape of the corners, which are curved in a way that solid wood seldom, if ever, is.  The outside is covered with a thin skin of fiberglass-like material.
It seems to me that the downside of a window like this is twofold.  One potential problem is that the veneer on the inside could peel, especially if it gets wet repeatedly from moisture condensing on the glass and dripping in cold weather.
The other potential problem is on the outside.  There are seams in the protective skin at the corners.  Caulking seals the seams.  If the caulking fails even slightly, water can get in and be absorbed by the composite.  Then it will swell, making the leak worse.  Eventually the window is ruined.
If I had windows like this, I would check the integrity of the caulking every year.  Also, I would make sure no moisture condensed on the windows in the winter.
Solid wood windows are susceptible to condensation dripping in the winter too.  If the finish is ruined they can be sanded down and refinished with no danger of veneer coming loose.  Wood windows are available with an extruded aluminum exterior, which prevents water from ever reaching the wood frame.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Spring Cleaning for Your Roof

     Keeping your roof clean can avoid some possible leak problems.  After the snow and ice have melted from your roof and gutters, it's a good time to inspect the roof and remove accumulated leaf debris.  If leaves and twigs accumulate around attic vents and at the bottom of valleys, that will eventually block the free flow of water around the vents and in the valleys.  This often results in a leak into the house if you have a good rainfall.
    In a steady rain, a lot of water flows in the valleys.  The bottom 4 feet of the valleys is where leaves and twigs tend to accumulate.  This build up of debris acts like a dam that will cause the water to back up.   As the water backs up and gets deeper in back of this dam, it will go between the rows of shingles and find a way into the house.  Remember that a shingled roof is designed to shed freely flowing water.  It won't keep out standing water like a rubber membrane roof.
    Clean around the attic vents too.  The same back up  can occur around a vent.  On the sides of the vent, it takes very little debris build up to cause the same kind of back up, with water getting under the flange of the vent and into the house.