Single pane windows aren’t quite ancient history. There are still some homes that have them. But modern windows and replacement windows are more likely to have double or triple panes. But it isn’t just the glass that makes these windows energy efficient. Here is what you need to know about insulating glass and how to spot seal failure:
What is an Insulated Glazing Unit (IGU)?
IGUs or thermal windows are two or more panes of glass sealed together as a single unit. But on its own glass is a horrible insulator. That is why IGUs are sealed with spacers between the panes of glass. And between the panes isn’t just ambient air. In some cases, it is a partial vacuum. But more often the space is filled with argon, krypton, or xenon. These are noble gasses with higher density than air to reduce heat transfer. These gasses are the reason why modern windows are so energy efficient. But the seals are not fail-proof.
How to Spot Seal Failure
Even in ideal conditions, IGUs naturally leak one percent of the noble gas per year. This is the result of the pressure differential between the inert gas and the outside air. But various conditions can make the gas leak faster. For example, if windows have to ship through different elevations it can impact how much gas leeches out. The same goes for temperature fluctuations. Seal failure can also happen because of poor installation, the use of heat guns, and pressure washers. And once the seal is broken and the inert gas leaks out, there is no way to put it back.
How to Spot Seal Failure
Spotting seal failure on windows is not easy. The first step is to thoroughly clean your window. Make sure the interior and exterior surface is smudge free. Then inspect your windows closely for signs of fogging or a white, powdery substance between the panes. The condensation may come and go with temperature differences, but that doesn’t mean you have nothing to worry about. These are clear signs of window failure. But a broken seal does not always mean there will be moisture between the panes.
If you cannot find signs of fogging, examine your windows from a distance outside. During the early stages of seal failure, the inert gas leaks out and causes the glass to bow towards the center. As a result, the reflection on the surface of the glass will appear distorted. In some cases, the pressure may even break the glass.
What Can I Do About Seal Failure?
Unfortunately, there isn’t any way to fix the damage and restore the full efficiency of the old window. A window professional may be able to place a valve to help mitigate fogging between the panes, but it won’t restore the insulating value. For a full restoration, you will need replacement windows in Woodinville, WA. Call Signature Window & Door Replacement to set up a consultation. Contact us at (253) 887-7792 or 22613 68th Ave. S. Kent, WA 98032.
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