Leaking windows?

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Old 11-06-10, 01:33 PM
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Leaking windows?

I had my house built one and a half year ago. Several(5) of the windows appear to have sign of moisture on the window sills. We have drywall returns with window sills at the bottom of the window. The windows are vinyl and the exterior of the house is brick veneer. I don't see any moisture on the drywall return, but I do see small areas of the window sill puffed up from moisture. Couple of the windows have some moisture in the corners. Installer believes the water is coming from the window itself. He believes that the brick veneer was installed too close to the window preventing it from expanding with the wood frame and studs during the season change. The stress from the brick on the window caused the joints in the corners to have gaps. He believes that water penetrated the windows through these gaps with rain coming down just right. He also pointed out that the stress from the brick caused the screen windows to be too tight causing water to not drain quickly enough and causing water to pool up and eventually seeping through the gaps.

Does any of this make sense to you guys? Have you guys heard this happening to anyone else? I've asked other people in my neighborhood but nobody seems to have had these issues. The installer sprayed one of the windows with a water hose for about 5 minutes and could not see the window leak. Should I demand a more extensive water leak test? I feel like I am getting the run around. My biggest fear is that the window or the flashing was not installed correctly and I could potentially have a big problem down the road. If the window sill is puffed up from moister, could it be something else other than the window leaking in the corner like the installer claims? Pictures are attached below. Some windows are puffed up in the middle of the sill and not the corner.

Thanks,
Pete

Damaged window sill and corner of drywall from water
http://d.imagehost.org/0066/IMAG0217.jpg

Damaged drywall underneath the window sill
http://d.imagehost.org/0937/IMAG0218.jpg
 
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Old 11-06-10, 08:38 PM
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This is usually a result of water sitting in the bottom of the rough opening. The question is, where is the water coming from and how is it getting in?

Water can be caused by leaky uninsulated window frames, but that is condensation that usually only occurs in the winter, when cold air contacts warm air. If the windows are set in a brick opening, I would examine the caulking on the exterior, and see if it's okay. I'd also remove one of the damaged sills and look for signs of water damage. Do a spray test with that sill removed so that you can see if there is a leak. Have you actually ever observed any wetness anywhere?

In some cases, water can come from unusual places, getting in behind the brick, where it can run in behind the nailing fin, or even get behind the housewrap / felt paper.

Your contractor is correct that there should be an expansion joint around the perimeter of the windows, since the window needs room to expand and contract separately, without being "pinned in" by the brick. I did not see any pictures of the outside of the windows so I can't give an opinion on any supposed "cracks" in the frame.

If your sills and trim are made of MDF, they are toast and can't be repaired. So I'd rip them off and figure out the problem. MDF cannot tolerate contact with water at all.
 
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Old 11-07-10, 08:37 PM
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Thanks XSleeper!

I checked the caulking around the window on the exterior and it appears fine.

I have never really seen any wetness in the window. Only noticed the swollen MDF sill. I am concerned that the water is coming from somewhere else and pooling up underneath the sill.

I am going to try to get the builder to come out and perform a more extensive water test.

Is it normal to have this many(5) windows affected by this issue? Would it be incorrect for me to assume this issue is caused by improper installation?

I can take more pictures of the window if you need.

Thanks,
Pete
 
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Old 11-07-10, 09:27 PM
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It's a little unusual for a brick house. It might help to provide a few more pictures so we can have a full idea of the house, the roof, the area around the windows, etc. Maybe some closeups of the exterior of the window sill.

You can't really assume anything at this point without some facts to back it up. We'll see if we can help.

One thing I HAVE seen is people who leave their windows open during a thunderstorm and then wonder why their woodwork is all water damaged after doing that for a year or more. They don't think about the water that was standing on their woodwork, or draining down under the woodwork until it is too late.

Not saying that's what it is, but you would know better than I.
 
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Old 11-18-10, 09:36 PM
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Windows update

Sorry for the late response. We had the contractor come back out and they ripped out the window sill/stool and performed another water test to help identify the source of the leak. It appears the corner of the window where it is joined is leaking. The contractor says that he can apply vinyl paste or patch to help stop the leak. He will do another water test once he patches the window up. Does this sound like the correct solution? Seems a little odd to me that seven of our windows appear to have this issue. I'm wondering if the stress on the windows caused these window joints to separate.
Thank you for your input.
 
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Old 11-19-10, 05:03 AM
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I venture to say the flanges on the windows were not properly taped with sticky tape and water is running behind the flange. Applying anything from the inside won't stop the leak. The builder may have a big heart, but wrong methods. I doubt the corners of all the windows broke at the same place. If so, he would be hot on the trail of the manufacturer to have them replace the windows. His guys improperly installed the windows IMO. Didn't mean to steal your thunder, XSleeper, but I was awake.
 
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Old 11-21-10, 09:05 AM
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Thanks for your input. I will be sure that they perform a water test on each window after every window they fix.
 
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Old 11-23-10, 07:36 PM
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Should the entire window be replaced?

Here is a picture of where the leak is coming from. I placed red arrows pointing to the joint where we noticed the water. It appears it is leaking through the window itself. This seems like a window defect to me. Should I request to have the entire window replaced? What concerns me is that all seven of 23 windows in my house are leaking because of similar leaks in the window frame.
Thanks for your input!

 
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Old 11-25-10, 02:18 PM
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Non-welded window units like that usually rely on a gasket to prevent leaks where the side extrusion meets the sill extrusion. A product called Stelmax can be surface applied where these extrusions meet, which can often help seal the seam between the two. This "might" be an effective repair, provided the surfaces have been prepped so that they are clean.

Window replacement is probably not a viable option. Low quality windows will all have problems at some point down the road. So replacing 7 of 23 would be a waste imo, unless it is being done at no cost to you. I'd suggest going with the Stelmax as a stop gap solution.
 
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