window installation issues

Old 10-30-09, 09:00 PM
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window installation issues

I just got three Simonton 9800 replacement vinyl window, and I got some concerns about my installation.

1) When the installers pulled out one of the windows, the bottom frame was all rotten. Below the bottom frame, there was more rotten wood. The installers said that that wood is not part of the window, so they were not going to replace it. I told them that that's not right, and said that I would pay extra, but that wood should be removed (it was completely rotten). The installers agreed, and after finding the correct size wood in their truck, they replaced it happily. However below that wood, all the cardboard (under the vinyl siding) was also completely rotten. I don't know how much of cardboard is affected, but the top was completely rotten and falling apart when touched. The installers said that it will dry. Since the cardboard was definitely not part of the window, I didn't argue. Should investigate how to fix that cardboard?

2) It was raining during and after installation. It rained very hard at one point. They caulked the window outside. I read that caulking should be done right before it rains. Is this a big deal?

3) On one of the windows, they didn't remove all rot. They was a little rot on the side, but they said that it's not necessary to remove. Can some rot be left on the frame?
Old 10-30-09, 09:11 PM
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They saw rot in the framing of the wall and were just going to leave it? And then they saw more rot and did indeed leave it? And they were trying to caulk a wet surface in the rain?

You've got one lousy contractor!!

I would contact Simonton and complain about the contractor.

I've never put cardboard behind vinyl siding, so I have no clue what that's about. I've always used foam insulation. But it's obvious that you have had leak problems around those windows for several years. And these guys trying to caulk in the rain will very possibly result in more leaks.
Old 10-31-09, 03:36 AM
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I agree with Mike, any contractor worth his salt will stop work, notify the owner of a deteriorating situation, let them make the decision, then proceed. It would have obviously cost you more, as you only contracted for the window install. I cannot comprehend anyone NOT replacing rotten wood (especially since it means more revenue), to ensure a good install and a happy customer. And caulking in the rain, where does that come from?
I have done this on numerous occasions, and always offered to allow the customer to bring in another contractor to do that work if they want, just so it won't look like I'm stiffing them. Most are thankful that I didn't just cover it up.
Definitely contact Simonton about the contractor.
Old 10-31-09, 03:44 AM
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"However below that wood, all the cardboard (under the vinyl siding) was also completely rotten"

Could this be masonite?
Old 10-31-09, 05:41 AM
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Marksr, it certainly could be Masonite. We all know that would fall apart if it got wet.
Old 10-31-09, 06:51 AM
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Having replaced thousands of windows, I am pretty sure I have a good idea of what's going on with the rotton wood.

Some windows have rotton sills. They obviously should be replaced. The jambs and brickmould of a window often wick up moisture where they touch the sill. They often get a little punky too. Brickmould you can replace. But if you are putting in a replacement window into an existing opening (retrofit), you don't usually want to replace the jamb of the window, and get rid of 100% of the rot. At some point it becomes a judgment call, there has to be a stopping point somewhere. I'm guessing that is what you are calling into question... their judgment.

The original poster did not mention whether the wood in question was covered up with cladding or not... but that usually comes into play when replacing windows. Painters cover up rot with epoxy and caulk. Carpenters use wood filler or Bondo to fix their boo-boo's. Window companies cover things with cladding, to make the window "look" like new, even if it isn't. Frankly, the replacement window business in many areas is a "slam-bam" type business where the job was bid in such a way that it makes "extras" impossible without added expense... which as mentioned, should always be an option if the homeowner agrees. However, like I said, there is a point at which you have to admit you are not going to be able to fix 100% of the aging / deteriorating wood without ripping the entire window out. And that would call for a totally different type of installation. If rotton wood is a concern, a TOTAL tearout is the kind of installation you would be looking for. We replace rotton wood all the time, but in almost every case, its not reasonable to expect that once you have fixed it back up that ALL the wood on the window will be just like new. And yes, a good window replacement company is hard to find that you can trust to do good work, at a reasonable price, that doesn't try to scalp you for added work that wasn't on the original contract.

Caulking in the rain... well let's just say I've been faced with that a lot the past couple weeks. With some types of caulking (oil based) you simply cannot do it. With others (latex and silicone) it "might" be possible, depending on the surface... how are it's raining, etc. You obviously would need to wipe the surface down to get it as dry as possible before attempting to caulk. Most of the time if it's wet you HAVE to wait and do it later. In this case, the poster did not say if they were working under a soffit, or if they were actually in the rain. Typically when it rains, rain comes from one direction, so there is often a side of the house you can work on that's fairly dry. Maybe that was the case here... maybe not.

Knowing the replacement window business, I think I could safely say that you would not want a great number of window installers doing major reconstructive surgery on your house. Some installers might know next to nothing about framing, drywall, siding, etc. and would not be the ones you want to do this job. Larry makes a good point about them notifying you (which they evidentally did) and recommending someone else to do the job. That would probably be the best idea for anything that is not directly related to their window installation.

The "cardboard" is probably some type of fanfold underlayment behind the siding, and it's not absolutely critical it be in pristine condition. Vinyl siding lets water behind the siding in many places, mainly at the bottom corners of windows. So you likely have that problem on every window on your home, and a few other places too. I would not expect a window company to fix a siding problem, any more than I would expect them to fix a preexisting roof problem or drywall crack.

Last edited by XSleeper; 10-31-09 at 07:06 AM.

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