I have been in the construction and remodeling business for over 25 years with a majority of that time dedicated to the installation of replacement windows and doors. Over the years I have done installations in several different regions of the country. From the cold winters of Montana, Idaho and Washington, to the less demanding climates of Nevada and California.
Along the way I have worked closely with both window manufacturers and independent dealers to increase my knowledge and perfect my skills. This experience has led to several conclusions,
#1. Window manufacturers in general did not offer a product suitable for replacing aluminum windows.
In the early years of the replacement window industry there were few options available. Window were custom sized but were typically only availiable with a block style frame that was 3 1/4 inches thick. This size and style of frame worked perfectly for replacing old style wood double hung windows but did not work well for replacing the more common aluminum framed window.
#2. No standard installation method existed for replacement windows.
Although "new construction" installation methods are clearly defined, methods for installing replacement windows is largely left up to the individual installer. The only actual instructions that I have seen, refer to how to measure and install a window for replacement of an old wood double hung window. The much more difficult to replace aluminum windows led to many different installation methods. Most of these included the addition of wood or vinyl trim to the exterior of the window. Many manufacturers now offer what we call a stucco or flush fin for their windows. This type of frame is commonly used for replacing aluminum windows and is currently the closest thing to a standard installation method. The fin of this frame is sealed to the old window frame or ( if the old frame has been removed ) to the siding of the house with caulking. The caulking becomes the primary seal to keep water from entering the home. The problem with this method is that if the caulking is not properly installed or fails for any reason the window will leak.
#3. If it Can leak it Will leak.
Water is, I believe, the #1 enemy of your home. If it gets in where it is not supposed to be, it will destroy every thing it touches. If you have been in the window business for any length of time you have undoubtedly had to deal with customer complaints of leaking windows. The common repair for this was to go out to the job and recaulk the window. If the window was poorly sealed to begin with this would usually fix the problem. However, we have all had that one nightmare job that no matter what we did we still had a leakage problem. If we stop for a minute and take a close look at what we are trying to do,( that is, take a vinyl flange and seal it to a metal frame or stucco wall with caulking and expect it to be water proof for the life of the home,) we would have to conclude that we are asking for trouble. Vinyl expands and contracts at a different rate than aluminum, the caulking used to seal between them must be able to permanently adhere to both surfaces and withstand the movement between them and do this for a long long time. This is a tall order for a little tube of caulking. The bottom line is that, although the stucco / flush fin type of installation is trouble free for many applications, it is not a dependable way of installing windows.
#4. There must be a better way.
Several years ago I had to deal with one of those "nightmare" jobs that I mentioned earlier. This particular home was a typical Northern California home (two story , aluminum windows, stucco exterior ). I replaced all the windows with stucco flange style vinyl dual pane windows. The original windows were completely removed including the frames, which were collapsed into the opening leaving the stucco exterior intact. Everything went smoothly and I had no reason to expect any problems. Boy was I wrong. Some time later leakage problems started showing up in the house. The standard "recaulk" repair was done but didn't seem to stop the problem. After several more trips back to the job and a number of different water tests, it was determined that the corners of the window frames were leaking. These frames, by the way, were screwed together rather than being welded together which is the standard for today's vinyl windows. With help from the manufacturer, every window was replaced with the newer welded corner style stucco flange window. I thought we were done, but as you may already know, when this much goes wrong with a job, and I've left a number of thing out to keep this short, the last one to touch it gets to be responsible for all future problems. The home owner was starting to question everything about the window installation. So to try and regain the confidence of my customer and put a stop to this, I devised a method of installation that would assure him that the windows were properly installed. Armed with my portable sheet metal brake and a roll of white gutter coil I set about removing and reinstalling every window in the house. The idea was to use the gutter coil to "reflash " the new window. This was done by making up flashings that would install into the area that the original aluminum window's nail fin was removed from. The new flashings also wrapped around the outer surface of the new vinyl window ( with the stucco fin removed } in such a way as to channel any water away from the inside of the wall. The result was that the replacement window was no longer relying on caulking as it's primary seal against water infiltration. Caulking was still used to fill in any gaps between the stucco and the flashing, but the flashing itself was the main water barrier for the window. This method worked so well that I perfected it and began to us it on a regular basis. I christened it the " Reflash Method " and have to date almost a thousand windows installed this way. But best of all is that I have not had even One complaint of a leaking window with this method.
All of this is what has led to the development of my Patented Replacement Window Installation and Flashing System.( U.S. Patent # 6526709 ) The system uses an interior vinyl jam liner, that provides both a primary water seal and interior trim for the replacement window and an exterior vinyl cap that completes the installation and provides the exterior trim.
This product is currently in a final design stage and will be available soon. My goal with this is to provide an attractive, efficient, easy to install, water tight system that will become the standard for the industry.
Sincerely, Rod Jacobsen President and CEO BEDDOR Enterprises Inc. dba Advanced Window Trim
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