Thursday, October 5, 2017

Replacement Window Installation

A replacement window Mark installed
We mentioned in our post "How to Choose Replacement Windows" that there's no substitute for a qualified replacement window installer. But why is the installation so important?

Insulating a window pocket
The most important reason is that improperly installed windows may not work. And you won't necessarily be able to find the problem right away. Sometimes an improperly installed replacement window will work fine when it's new, but go out of square weeks or even years later. If a doublehung (vertically sliding) window is out of square, it's likely to bind, which could leave it stuck closed or stuck open. And even if it slides okay, there can be a triangle-shaped gap at the top or bottom, creating drafts and driving up your heating and cooling bills.

And speaking of heating and cooling bills, sometimes there are pockets in the walls that need to be filled with insulation during the window replacement process.

A competent installer will be careful to preserve your existing interior window trim. This is especially important if you own a historic home.
Window trim, before...
...and after wrapping

Most homeowners also need an installer who is an expert at custom metal trim. Part of the job in most cases is wrapping the exterior casing for weather resistance and protection against rot. The aluminum stock comes prepainted and will never need painting again. Your choice of an installer really matters here, because the beauty of your home's exterior depends a lot on their skill in bending the metal and matching the bevels.

So if you're shopping for replacement windows, be sure to do some careful shopping for their installer, too.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

How to Choose Replacement Windows

Replacement windows cartoonSometimes it seems like we're being bombarded with replacement window advertising. There are commercials on TV and radio, internet ads, print ads, billboards, even telemarketing calls. Then there's the company that sends installers to your house even if you say no.

With so many options out there, how do you know which replacement windows to buy? While there's no one answer that applies to everyone, here are some tips to help you shop smart:
  • Climate zone: Today's windows are made to keep the heat in during the winter and out during the summer. But some are designed to withstand a lot of cold while others are built for extreme heat. Make sure you're getting ones intended for the New Hampshire climate. When your windows arrive, look for a climate zone map on one of the panes.
  • Quality: All modern replacement windows have certain things in common. They will all be double paned and filled with a gas that conducts very little heat compared to air. But even windows that have the same energy rating don't necessarily have the same quality. Consider the manufacturer's reputation, but also see if your salesperson has a sample. Cheaply-built windows are very light and are not likely to last long. If the sample has some weight to it, it's probably a better window.
  • Warranty: Some windows have lifetime warranties, while others are buy-at-your-own-risk.
  • Price: Whichever company you decide to buy from will likely have a top-of-the-line model, an economy model and one in between, with prices that vary accordingly. Which one you should choose depends on your house, your budget, your tastes and other factors unique to your situation. But in general, it's best to look for value: ask yourself which model gives you the most for your money.
  • Window type: To avoid potential problems, be sure you're getting the correct window for each opening. For example, a double-hung window is engineered to slide up and down, not side to side. If you have an opening for a horizontal window, make sure the replacement window you buy is a rolling casement, not a double-hung.
  • Getting the window you ordered: When your windows arrive, look for the brand and model information, and if they are different from what you ordered, don't allow them to be installed. Some disreputable contractors will charge you for a quality window but install something much cheaper.
  • Installer: No matter what window you choose, there's no substitute for a qualified installer. It's a good idea to speak directly with the contractor. Do they seem to know what they're talking about, or are they making things up as they go along? How long have they been installing replacement windows? Can they show you pictures of their work? Do they have any satisfied customers they can put you in touch with?
While we can't tell you which model or even which brand of replacement window is best for your home or business, we can tell you that there are two things to look for: the best value for your money and a good installer. Even the best replacement window money can buy will still be no better than the worst if it's not installed properly.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Replacement Windows

Mark recently did a replacement window job. The customer had gotten a ridiculously high price from one of those replacement window companies, so he called Mark. Mark put in Simonton 5300 series windows for a reasonable price.

Simonton 5300 replacement window
One of the replacement windows before installation
Insulating the pockets during replacement window installation
Insulating around the window opening
The customers are very happy with their new replacement windows. They not only saved a lot of money over what they would have paid the window company, but they're going to save a lot on their heating bills, too.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Spring Maintenance Check

It may not seem like it after yesterday's storm, but spring is here, and warmer weather is right around the corner. Now is the time to think about what that means for your house (or your company's building), if you haven't done it already. Here's a list to help you out:


Last year there was the Zika virus. With luck, the worst thing we'll get if biting flies and mosquitoes come inside will be uncomfortable bites, but it's far better to be prepared. It doesn't take long to be sure that all your screens are in place and in good condition.


What did your roof look like this winter? Did you have problems with ice dams? Did the snow melt in a geometric pattern? Can you see any dips or wavy lines in your roof? If you answered yes to any of these, either your roof or your attic needs work before it sees another winter.

Structural Check

It's always a good idea, especially with newer houses, to do a quick walk-through in the springtime to check for any structural damage that may have occurred over the winter. Signs to watch for are windows or doors that don't open and close easily, new cracks in walls (including foundation walls), and groups of nails that have come partially out of place.

Your Cooling Bill

The air is chilly and there's snow on the ground, which means that now is the perfect time to take care of your air conditioning needs for the summer. If you wait until you need it, there may be availability issues. And this way, you may be able to decide what you want and then wait for a sale. Two more important factors to consider are insulation and windows.

Outdoor Living

Now is also a good time to get started on planning patios, porches, decks and other outdoor living spaces you'll want to use this summer.


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Hardwood Stairs

A lot of homeowners are upgrading their old carpet or linoleum floors to hardwood, and it's certainly a great investment that really pays off in many ways. A related project is to replace an outdated or
worn out stairway with a sharp new set of hardwood stairs.

Here's a hardwood stairway job Mark recently did. He took off the old plywood treads and risers and put in clear oak treads and white risers. As always, he used solid oak for the treads, an inch thick. He hand-finished them with a minimum of three coats of polyurethane.

(The unpainted trim is at the customer's request.)

New Hampshire Construction

Monday, March 13, 2017

How to Prevent Ice Dams

It's going to snow tomorrow. Lots of snow is going to pile up on roofs all over New Hampshire, and
at the bottoms of a lot of those roofs, ice dams are going to form. And every single one of those ice dams could have been prevented. Here's how:

The cause of ice dams is heat from indoors leaking out and causing some of the snow that's on the roof to melt. This melted snow runs down the roof until it hits the eaves (the overhang, where suddenly there's no heat escaping and everything's cold again) and quickly refreezes. The process continues until there's so much ice built up on top of the eaves that it keeps snow from sliding off. And that's not the worst part. As the ice dam grows, it can creep under shingles. Then when it eventually melts, it can leak into your house, causing water damage.

The best way to prevent ice dams in the long run? Make sure your roof is properly ventilated and your attic is properly insulated.

The best thing to do now to prevent ice dams in tomorrow's storm? If your roof is prone to getting ice dams, rake the eaves off periodically to prevent buildup. If buildup occurs, fill a nylon stocking with magnesium chloride ice melt. (Make sure it's magnesium chloride so you don't damage your roofing materials.) Toss the stocking onto the edge of your roof where the ice is forming and let it melt it off.

Tomorrow's expected to be windy, though, so with any luck, your roof will stay clear.