Category Archives: Home Repair

Window Replacement

Background – My Old Windows leaked

We moved into our home 5 years ago and were hit with a large power bill (partially due to our windows). This resulted in the replacement of all windows. Let me describe my window situation a bit better for you. My house was built in the 1950’s and had the old fashioned single pane steel framed windows.

My old windows had several problems first the metallic frame conducts heat very efficiently. This resulted in the heat pump either having to heat or cool a lot more than necessary. Second, modern windows are double or triple paned and filled with special gases. This provides better insulation and limits ultraviolet penetration. Finally my old windows were the kind where it looks like a coarse lattice with several dozen square panes making up each window. This really made the aesthetics sucky and limited the viewable area.

During the replacement process it was determined that some(3) of the spaces in the wall for windows would require two windows to properly fill (more frame and less viewable space). Unless a window is turned sideways (sliders) and inserted. This is apparently a common arrangement and window frames are designed precisely for this role.

The Problem – Windows Cost a Lot and Window Frames Reduce Precious View Space

There are several problems to solve with this article. First, how to maximize view space? Second, how to minimize cost?

The Solution – Horizontal Sliding EnergyStar Windows

In my particular case there were 12 windows that needed to be replaced but three of them would require double windows (two windows side by side making a frame like a plus sign). Each window was quoted at $450 for a total of 15 windows. However the kind salesman helped us to find a more economical route. Instead of doing the three double windows the installed a sideways window which allowed for appropriate proportions on the window for a single window to be installed. Since we were replacing all of the windows at once we had all of them replaced sideways to match each other.

The new quote remained $450 per window but the window count was 12 instead of 15. This saved $1,350 on the purchase price. Conviently the window now also has more view space on these three windows (instead of a verticle and a horizontal line across the middle creating 4 separate windows there is only a vertical center frame creating 2 windows). Honestly I feel we got the best of both worlds with this purchase lower money more window view.

Unfortunately, since we did this five years ago I may not have before pictures (I will look and update if I do find them). I also do not have measurements of view space differences. Fortunately for this article my parents are replacing some windows and I suggested to them (I won’t suggest something for you all that I wouldn’t suggest for my own family) that they look into sideways windows like mine for one of the windows they were replacing.

the exterior view of the window
The exterior view of my parents window.

I went over for the meeting with the window people and explained what I was thinking might be good and he got out hisbook. Took some measurements and agreed that it could be done. He then got out the display book to show my parents pictures from similar installs. My parents decided to go with the sideways windows (because of the reduction in framing, and thus increased window space) and saved $300 in the process.

interior window view
The same window from the interior.

I have measured the surface area of the old windows and am awaiting the installation of the new windows to compare the change in the viewable area. Their old windows are the same kind of vinyl frame being installed as the window was replaced 3-4 years ago. This will be a much better comparison than comparing my steel frame windows to vinyl framing.

Measuring the window
Taking the measurements which were used to determine the surface area of the glass for comparison after the new window is installed.

Conclusion – Sideways Windows (called sliders) can save you money

In two confirmed instances the sideways windows have saved money. I believe they also improve view space and will either update this post or do a followup post once the new windows are installed with measurements. The current windows are 27.5″ x26″ and there are 4 windows this size with a center window which is 54″ x 43.5″ for a ┬átotal view area of (715*4 = 2860 + 2349) 5209 square inches. I expect this value to increase with the new windows by a small but significant amount.

Update – Window Installation

Apparently the windows are being installed today here are photos.

Slider Window Installation
Two men carrying the new slider window to install.

So far it’s looking good!

Slider windows in the frame
Here is the slider window inside it’s frame.

Floor Ducts

Introduction:

This post will talk about the leaky floor ducts and the solutions applied to reduce my electrical consumption. It is a continuation from my post on 9/23/2014 which focused on a new thermostat. You can read the previous post by clicking here.

Catch up:

Basically, I received an electric bill that seemed higher than what I wanted to pay. The result was that I examined my residence and evaluated potential solutions. The three solutions selected were:

  1. Install a new thermostat to better use conditioned air.
  2. Seal the leaky floor vents to mitigate losses.
  3. Hire a professional to service the Heat pump unit.

Today I will write about the leaky floor vents and their repair.

The Problem – Leaky Floor Vents

As part of my examination to determine effective ways to reduce my personal electrical usage I lifted up the floor vent covers to see if any problems were apparent. Well I was very surprised to find lots of problems (I had my floors completely redone four years earlier when we moved into our current home and part of that was installing new wooden decorative floor vent covers). I wrongfully assumed that these vents would be in perfect working order.

 

Floor Vents/Ducts
The vents that were supposed to be working just fine.

Unfortunately, I do not have any before pictures to share because this occurred before I started writing. However, I can describe it fairly graphically. There are 10 floor vents in my home, I examined nine of them. Of the nine floor vents I examined all of them had gaps around the edges of at least a penny thickness which allowed air to escape directly into the crawl space. Four of the floor vents had severe problems, two of these were completely disconnected from the floor and just hanging in the air. Its amazing any air flow made it into the house. The other two severely problematic vents were partially detached or had gaps greater than two finger widths allowing for severe loss of conditioned air. In one of these gaps I could see daylight through the crawlspace vent and the floor connection ductwork.

Update: I located a before image.

Floor vent before repair
One of the worst floor vents was disconnected from the floor. The image quality is poor and I attempted to sharpen it for better viewing.

The Solution – Seal the Leaky Ducts

An hour later I was driving to the hardware store (Ace Hardware) with three children. We examined the possible supplies and ultimately purchased a box of medium length wood screws, a box of nails and three cans of appropriate expandable spray foam insulation (about $30.00 for everything). Once back at home I went to the tool chest and removed my electric drill, a hammer and some screw drivers. The following steps were followed for each vent:

  1. Remove the vent cover.
  2. Ensure the vent is flush with the bottom of the floor.
  3. Securely (preferably with screws) attach the vent to the floor and/or surrounding support beams. Screws are preferred because they have a much lower incidence of coming loose over time. The nails were used in spaces where screws were not possible due to space constraints.
  4. After the floor vent is as flush as possible and firmly secured (4-6 screws per vent typically). The spary foam insulation was sprayed into all remaining cracks (the exterior windows were open for ventilation and the air unit was turned off to prevent it from blowing the insulation before it dried and set).
  5. Once all gaps were sealed the vent cover was put back in place the insulation allowed to dry and ventilate.

Now:

I have checked the repairs and the insulation and vents are exactly the same as they were six months ago.

Floor Vent/Duct air sealed
The is a photo inside the vent where the spray foam insulation is visible and still in place.

The next article will focus on two topics. The first will be getting the A/C unit serviced. The second will be a cost/savings analysis looking at the expense of these three solutions compared to how much they have saved after five months.