Replacement vs. New Construction Windows?

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  #1  
Old 08-05-13, 04:17 PM
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Replacement vs. New Construction Windows?

Have some Pella Architect series windows that are out of warranty. One leaks like a sieve, dripping on the inside any time it rains. Some of the interior trim is also rotted. It appears that this window is a LH, RH casement, plus a center panel and "above" windows, all "mulled" together into one replacement. In addition, at least two of the fixed panels above have broken seals. These windows are of the generation that are known to have leakage problems and poor preservatives, so I don't know whether the leaking is the window or the install.

I am inclined to replace the entire unit and to use new construction vs. replacement windows. My thinking is that this will be the best way for me to know that it is installed right and to remedy any rot that may be there. However this will require removal of the true brick mold, which I don't mind, but the worst part of the project for me would be re-installing the brick.

Are new construction windows overkill in this case? Also, in order to shop for the window, what do I need to measure in this case, or is this a standard type of window? Would appreciate any perspective on brands as I'm not happy with Pella wanting to charge me for a sales call. Have heard good things about Jeld-Wen.
 
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Old 08-05-13, 04:25 PM
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2 questions. Where exactly does it drip from... and has there been a bead of clear silicone run around the exterior perimeter of the glass where it meets the cladding? And is the rot on the sash or the frame. (the sash is the part with the glass in it that cranks open, or would crank open if it operated.)

Regardless, if you plan to replace the windows, it's a no brainer that you would get a new construction window that has a nailing fin. The thing you may want to rethink, if you have a brick perimeter, is resizing the windows and making them about 3-4" smaller. That way once you get the old window out, you can add a 2x4 or 2x6 around the entire perimeter, install the window, tape the fin, and then trim the perimeter with some trim. You'd probably want to add 1 1/2" of drywall and tape the perimeter of the drywall too.

You don't have to remove brick to get the old window out, you will just have to destroy the frame, cutting it into smaller sections (reciprocating saw) until you can pull those sections off of the nailing fin. Then use a reciprocating saw to cut the nails behind the brick that are holding the nailing fin.
 
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Old 08-05-13, 06:05 PM
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This have been an ongoing problem for Pella for many years, everyone I've seen is leaking, cranks are broken, screen tabs broken off.
Casements are far more prone to leaks and leaking air.
There should be no need to remove any brick to replace a window.
I only use Wincor or Simonton windows, never had a failure.
 
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Old 08-05-13, 07:32 PM
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Xsleeper - The water is coming in at the top of the frame and dripping down onto the bottom sill as well. The primary rot is on the top frame horizontal piece (which I think, Ironically, is just a trim piece as opposed to a structural part of the window). The last beads I put on the cladding were about 5 years ago. The sashes of the two moveable casements are ok (I have others that have their bottom stiles rotted which I will also need to address) but the fixed middle window has a little blackening where the water has dripped down.

? - I like the idea of not having to remove the brick by downsizing the windows. When I remove the window as you describe, will I be able to see any structural damage from the moisture?

? - Joecaption1 Do you do anything different than Xsleeper described for replacement without disturbing the brick.

Will need to look at whether this will destroy the symmetry with the second story window which is in the same brick veneer wall. Window in question is a bit hidden so probably would be able to get away with it.

? - If I do downsize/trim it, was considering taking out the lower brick sill and replacing it with a one-piece limestone sill. From what I've seen, these 1/2 bricks are susceptible to leaking. Is that worthwhile.

Thanks!
 
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Old 08-05-13, 07:38 PM
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Whoops - just thought of something - if I downsize the window, I'll screw up the interior treatments. Would prefer to avoid changing the size if possible. Under that scenario would you just go with replacement windows?
 
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Old 08-05-13, 08:25 PM
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You say it's dripping from a top piece. Top of the casement/pict/casement or top of the transoms? If it's top of the transoms... it is almost always water coming from above, and the window nailing flange is catching it, directing it into the house. It could be blamed on window installation, but water shouldn't be running down the wall above the window in the first place, especially if there is brick around it. Even if it's dripping from the top of the casements, it could be the same sort of situation.

When you remove the window, it should be clear if there is structural damage because you will be looking up at the header and will be able to see the trimmers and the rough sill of the rough opening.

There is no scenario where I would recommend a "replacement window" inside a rotting Pella frame where the leak problem from above has not been addressed. That notion should be thrown out.

You might possibly be able to install a new window minus the nailing fins in the brick opening so that all things remain basically the same, but that also is just begging for trouble. It's done all the time in houses where the nailing fins have been covered by brick, but that doesn't mean it's right. If you don't have a properly sealed nailing fin, there is absolutely nothing to prevent any water that gets on the WRB from above from leaking right into the home around the perimeter of the window (usually shows up on top first.) So I would not be keen to recommend that, given your current leaking window.

If you would remove the top piece of casing from the window, you might be able to inspect the back of the casing and the top of the window so verify whether or not water has been on top of the window... which would narrow the problem to water coming down the wall from above- which isn't the window's fault. Everyone is always quick to blame the window or window company, but many things are beyond their control.
 
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Old 08-05-13, 09:06 PM
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It is coming in above the transoms, not the casement. From what I read, brick veneer itself is not waterproof, therefore the air gap between it and the wall with the vapor barrier and flashing around the window. If installed correctly, the water should still be shed and not going into the window.

These windows have been disappointing, but in this case I do believe the installation is more at fault. I will pull the casing and see if I can determine anything.

My fear at this point is that I won't be able to determine the window to order without removing/destroying the window/frame now. Haven't gotten quotes yet, but am guessing window orders would be 6-8 weeks - not sure the HOA is going to like me having a boarded up window.

Will post again after pulling the casing tomorrow, but any tips on how to do this right are appreciated. I've never owned a house long enough to require replacing windows before.
 
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Old 08-05-13, 09:25 PM
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If you could attach a picture of the house sometime, we might be able to direct you toward likely sources for the leak. Brick is not waterproof, but often there is an obvious problem... such as a window opening or sill directly above the leaking window.

If you intend to replace the windows with ones exactly the same size, by removing brick and so on, you could order the windows now, just measure the existing windows and make the new ones the same size. You can also determine wall thickness if you don't want to be making extension jambs later. That's what I've been working on this week... pulling Pella windows that are not that old, but were hailed on, and the new ones are practically identical in size. There's no reason you need to completely remove windows to determine the size.

I bet that 90% of installers still install windows wrong, just slapping the window right on top of the WRB. That's usually why most windows leak from the top... water runs right in the nailing fin on top. Not even all the guys who use window flashing tape do it right, since many of them are doing exactly the same thing when they install the window on top of the WRB and then put the flashing tape on top over the top of the WRB too. That's not much of an improvement. Yours were probably installed many years before any of the flashing tapes were even being used.

When you pull off the casing, just be careful if you plan on reusing it. If painted, cut the paint with a utility knife along both edges, then pop it loose with a stiff putty knife and hammer. Be careful not to pry where it will make dents in the wood, or on the drywall. Once you pop the casing off, examine the back side for water stains... then you can use a drywall keyhole saw or a utility knife to cut back the drywall to the bottom of your header (framing) so that you have a larger area to inspect. Use the drywall keyhole saw to pull out any insulation (it may be wet).
 
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Old 08-05-13, 10:04 PM
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Ignore the brick color difference as this was taken just after I finished the wall repair last year. That repair was moisture damage due to poor construction where the garage enters the house. The water damage did not approach the top of the window- the majority of the damage was to the rim joist and 2-3 feet above.

The water leakage I have is coming out of the interior side of the window roughly where the "keystone" is in the upper molding.
 
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Old 08-05-13, 10:39 PM
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Not sure if this matters, but these windows face NNW and seem to get the direct hit on rain and snowfall - sheets of rain will come down on these windows directly, whereas the windows in most other directions could stay open during rain and I wouldn't see any of it come inside.
 
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Old 08-07-13, 08:43 AM
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New Update with Pictures - No Moisture

Pulled away the top casing. No evidence of moisture on the exposed insulation or frame. Removed a couple of pieces of drywall further up over the areas of worst moisture problems and no evidence of damage on the inside.

My initial conclusion is that the window has failed/is rotting (as shown by the pictures of the transoms below) due to moisture from the outside, either being driven through bad seals in the transom or some sort of failure of the fin/taping/flashing system at the top of the window. Repair will require a new construction window and removal of the brick perimeter to facilitate this.

Is this likely? If so, last question - what are the tolerances on window measurements? I'm coming up with measurements down to the 1/8 inch and am kind of surprised these aren't standard, even-measurement windows as it was a spec house.

 
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Old 08-07-13, 03:58 PM
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Hmm. You are sure you got the leak fixed that rotted your rim joist? Because that water is definitely coming from above, and the first thing I would suspect is that it's associated with your weird roof configuration, which I vaguely remember looking at in the past. It wouldn't take much for water to reach the window, then run to the lowest point/ and find a seam on top of the window and leak in.

If it leaked recently and you didn't find wet insulation up there, I would say that you didn't dig enough insulation out or look far enough. Start at the center of the window over that fixed window and go left, checking the insulation all the way to the left side of the left casement closest to the gutter on the garage.

You also have a window directly above the keystone, so that's the next thing I would suspect, and should be easy to check. The first thing I would do is get on a ladder and examine the row lock brick sill at the bottom of the window. Is it sealed to the window sill? Does it pitch downward so as to drain water? Put the hose up there and shoot those 2nd story windows and see if you can recreate the leak. And don't give up too soon with the hose, it takes water time to travel.

You can also take off the top extension jamb, which is the piece of wood that's roughly 2 1/2" wide that the inside edge of the casing was nailed to. Then examine the top of the window again. Water on top of the window will first leak in the joint where the extension jamb meets the rest of the window. The leak has nothing to do with the quality of the window, as it is not coming through bad seals in the transom window, it is clearly coming from above. As you mentioned, it is likely because either no tape was used... no WRB was used, or improper installation of both... but the reason and origin of the leak still remains to be seen. That should be your priority... find the leak and stop it.

It would be kind of pointless to replace the window before fixing the leak.

As for window tolerances, to the nearest 1/8" is pretty common. Are you planning on removing brick to do this? I hope the answer is yes.
 
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Old 08-07-13, 08:08 PM
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Yes, at this point I'm convinced the only way this will be fixed right is to remove the brick perimeter and new construction window. Just wasn't looking forward to more brick work. Will definitely be looking to fix the leak as well and my gut tells me that it is coming in around the upper sill (? - the metal angle iron) and then down in to the window.

Am sure this isn't the other leak; the path of the damage was quite clear on the sheathing, WRB and studs and it was nowhere close to the top of the window. The window above this one on the second floor has had some problems, but doesn't have the transoms, so silicone beads around the sash cladding seemed to work.

Questions at this point:
- Is there any risk in ordering a replacement window at this point? I just want to do this in one complete effort.
- How do I remove the top extension jam without damaging the window? If I pull it, and still see no visible damage to the frame, then can I conclude it is either the window or window/frame interface that the problem?
- What is the typical lead time on a window like this?
 
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Old 08-07-13, 09:13 PM
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There's no reason you couldn't order a window that is exactly the same size as the old one.

The extension jamb is stapled to the window through a lip on the back side of the jamb. I didn't imagine that you were concerned about damaging a rotten window that you're planning on replacing anyway. The jamb should pull off of the window if you use a hammer and a prybar. But I suppose that if you made a couple cuts clear through the extension jamb, cutting it into a small chunk a few inches long, that the small chunk would be pretty easy to remove since it would only have one or two staples in it. If you wanted to do minimal demolition, that is.

Lead time is probably about 4 weeks, but it likely depends where you order it from.
 
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Old 08-07-13, 09:59 PM
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Thx - fyi on the reason for the question on the extension jamb without damage was to do more leak investigation while maintaining the relative integrity of the window. Thanks for the help and I'm off to do some "window shopping" tomorrow. Will post again when fix is done.
 
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Old 08-08-13, 05:47 AM
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Well, completely removing the jamb would not affect the structural integrity at all, if that's what you're worried about. But I know sometimes the blinds are hung on that trim too, so...

One other thing. I zoomed in on your picture and it seems there is a decent sized gap above the window, just below the steel lintel. There's a small chance that this could be an entry point for water, and it should probably be sealed up. As you probably know, the gap above the lintel (where you have the wood shims inserted) should not be caulked. When you did the brickwork, did you happen to notice if the back of the lintel was flashed to the wall correctly, so that water coming down the WRB would shed onto the lintel out out the gap between the brick and the lintel?
 
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Old 08-08-13, 07:17 AM
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Unfortunately I didn't pay much attention to the top of the lintel because it was outside of the damage area I was working on. But given the suspect condition of the flashing/wrb around the window and the garage-house joint...I guess that's why I suspect it's coming in from above the window.
 
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Old 08-08-13, 04:45 PM
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worth noting

As mentioned I would first check upstairs window to make sure it is sealed properly and not letting water behind brick but another thing that caught my eye is the moisture in the mortar down the wall to the right of the window. It looks like it is caused from the gutter that terminates into brick wall not having a kick out diverter. I've done repairs on many houses where this small but important detail was omitted. Especially if it faces in a direction that wind driven rain usually comes from. The roof flashing above that gutter looks a little suspect as well and could be letting water behind the brick that can migrate to the window.
 
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Old 08-08-13, 05:08 PM
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Walt, like he said in one post, ignore that color, that is new brick he recently removed and replaced, so that's why the color doesn't match. I thought the same thing until I read that.
 
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Old 08-08-13, 06:37 PM
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That picture that was taken the day after I finished the brick rework, so the mortar was still damp. It's not perfect, but it matches. The "suspect flashing" is actually flashing I added at the roof line, including a kick-out, that wasn't there before. Not sure where it was getting in before, but it's now routed into the gutter and working very well and keeping the water off the wall. Will cover it with step flashing at some point, but it's working.
 
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Old 08-09-13, 02:40 PM
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I must have missed that while skimming through. Good luck on your repair. You may set a record for the most times a brick veneer has to be removed and re-installed!
 
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