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Pella windows loose


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12-14-16, 06:49 PM   #1  
Pella windows loose

Hi all,

I just installed new Pella designer series wood triple pane casement windows. The installation was during this spring, and everything worked very well. Now during the winter, the wood frame looks a bit shrunken. The windows will not close very well. The latch does not pull them all the way in, and cold air is coming through all of them. I opened it and looked at the latch catcher in the sash. It is installed into the grove so that it is flush with the sash surface. The pella instructions on the web say to reposition the screws, but the catcher cannot be moved as it is in the groove. Any ideas how to adjust them.

BTW, dealing with their CS is a nightmare. It's about 0F outside, and I want to fix this ASAP. Any ideas?

Thanks very much.

 
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12-14-16, 07:24 PM   #2  
Have all of the temporary plastic shims been removed from the windows? There is usually one at the top and bottom on the latch side and one behind the hinge on the bottom. They say "remove" on them.

The shrunken wood is your imagination. There is no lock adjustment, they either work or they dont. If the window is out of square or out of plumb, that would be an installation problem, not a window problem.

 
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12-15-16, 02:25 AM   #3  
I agree with Brant, in that it appears to be an installation omission or error. Can you post pictures of the inside and outside of the window (not close ups) so we can see what you see? http://www.doityourself.com/forum/el...your-post.html

 
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12-15-16, 04:49 PM   #4  
Pella questions

Thanks for the replies.

I am not very handy, so please forgive me if I use incorrect terminology.

I have removed all 3 tabs from the windows we used (we have not opened all of them yet). I attached two pictures. One shows the gap between the sash (the movable part of the window that actually opens outside when I open the window) and the frame attached to the wall. It is actually bigger than it looks. Cold air is gushing out of it around the perimeter of the window. Closing the latch does not pull the sash any closer. I can almost swear that that gap was not there during the summer. The windows could be closed much tighter than this.

We have lived in the house for 8 months, although the windows were installed 1.5 years ago. we did not live in the house during that time (construction) and I did not check the windows.

Second picture shows (poorly) water (condensation) all around the inner part of the window behind the screen and below and around the thirdglass panel housing the built-in drapes.

The issue is essentially the same with all windows I checked (about a dozen).
The installer was not Pella, but a reputable company. Pella will not be able to come until 3 weeks later due to high demand, and the builder tells me it is a product issue. We still have builder's warranty until May, but I need to figure out what to do fast. It is freezing in Chicago. We also have several pella patio doors, and there is ice build-up inside on the threshold and floor around many but not all of them. Very disappointing and frustrating in the new construction. Name:  20161215_181554.jpg
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12-15-16, 05:43 PM   #5  
Here is some free advice. Take your screens off. Take a towel and your hair dryer. Crank the window open. Using the hair dryer set on max high, heat up the bulb weatherstripping that is around the exterior perimeter of the frame, and wipe off any water or ice that melts. (The hair dryer will be pointing back at you... toward the latch hooks on the window frame) Move the bulb weatherstrip around with your fingers until it is pliable... make sure the edges arent frozen with ice from condensation. Also check the bottom track where the sash pivots and slides... make sure it is clean and dry. Close the window and lock it. Be sure you are pushing the lock handle all the way down.

Next, open your storm panel, following the directions in your owners manual. Once you open it, note where the latches are located. If you have 3 latches, keep in mind that when you close the storm panel and push it shut, you will need to push at those 3 locations and you should hear an audible "click". If you don't hear the click, it may not be latched.

Every time I get called regarding condensation or fog on a Pella Designer series window that has the storm panel, the problem has always been that the homeowner did not have the storm panel shut and latched properly. Granted, it is difficult to learn, but once you become familiar with how they work, it is not a problem. They rarely need to be opened more than once a year for cleaning if that.

Condensation can also occur on the glass when the humidity in the house is too high compared to the temperature outside. That's something out of Pella's control.

I generally tell people to always keep their windows locked. It seems like the people who always have problems are the ones who leave them unlocked all year, then wonder why they won't lock come winter.

 
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12-15-16, 05:59 PM   #6  
Thanks. I will try the hairdryer trick.

But how did the water/ice get there? I looked thru pella booklet explaining the condensation. That makes sense. But if I have ice forming on the inside, it is not what I expect. The windows were closed long before it got cold. How did the moisture get inside and freezes on the weather strips to interfere with operation?

 
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12-15-16, 06:08 PM   #7  
If you have ice on the inside it is because your window is not shut tight and cold air can blow in. Actually it's about heat loss... warm air from the house forms the ice when it hits the cold and the moisture in the warm air immediately turns to ice. A tiny draft leads to more and more ice... then if you open the window again and try to shut it it gets worse, and so on.

So hopefully if you clean off all the water, heat up the bulb weatherstrip everywhere you can reach, massage it so it's no longer flat as a frozen pancake... then when you shut the window and lock it, it will seal up like it's supposed to and you won't have any draft.

 
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12-15-16, 06:40 PM   #8  
Thanks. Makes sense.

Still my fundamental question is this: I can feel cold draft from the corner of each window I checked, including the once never opened. More than that, we have one triple window, where two parts on the sides open/close and the one in the middle is fixed, all three pane windows. I can feel the cold draft even from the middle window, the one that is stationary.
1. Is that normal?
2. If not, is this more likely the issue of installation or the product?

I am quite worried because we have small children, and rooms are really cold. I want the issue solved, but not sure who needs to deal with it.

Are pella wood frame casement windows/patio doors generally good quality? We bought thru the company sales rep/show room, not home depot.

Thanks again for all your help.

 
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12-15-16, 07:12 PM   #9  
Some air infiltration is normal, yes. Every window regardless of the manufacturer is tested to the same standards, and is rated according to how it performs. It sounds crazy, but no window is air tight. That's just the way it is.

And yes, Pella Designer series are good quality, but every window, every brand of window will have "some" issues... some unhappy customers and some delighted ones. For all I know, maybe yours has a bad batch of bulb weatherstrip, or the guy that installed it was having a bad day... who knows. That's what CS is for.

If rooms are cold, I would suggest you turn the heat up to a comfortable level. Just because the temperature at your thermostat is set at... let's say 70F... does not mean all areas of the house will be 70F. (Your thermostat isn't likely near any windows, is it?) Your comfort level in the home will have more to do with your HVAC distribution than anything else.

Even the best glass is terribly inefficient at keeping heat in. Heat radiates out the glass faster because it is maybe R-4 at the most... while your wall might be R-21. You can see how a room with lots of windows would feel colder than one with fewer or smaller ones. Shutting bedroom doors at night doesn't help matters because it limits the air exchange, and traps humidity, and people put a lot of humidity in the air just by breathing. Shutting drapes or interior blinds at night blocks heat from getting to the glass and so the glass gets colder and colder. Putting furniture or wads of clothes in front of cold air returns, or where they block heat registers won't help. Sounds basic but people overlook this stuff then wonder why some rooms are cold. The builder should have located heat registers near or directly below the windows, which is also sometimes overlooked because common sense isn't all that common anymore.

Additionally, many people mistake the feeling of cold air falling as a "draft". The glass is cold. The air in the house is warm. Cold air falls and warm air rises to take its place by convection... this is normal and is not because of faulty weatherstrip. Its physics. Its also why you see condensation at the bottom of the windows... cold air falls so that is where the temperature will be the coldest- at the bottom edge of the glass. To find air leakage, a good test is to take an incense stick or a fireworks punk around and see where the smoke goes. That's the best way to tell where your drafts are on a windy day.

 
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12-15-16, 07:20 PM   #10  
Thanks much Xsleeper. You have been very helpful. I will try what you suggested. Hopefully it works.
Thanks again.

 
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12-15-16, 07:31 PM   #11  
You're welcome. Worst case, spring is only 3 months away.

 
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12-22-16, 04:06 PM   #12  
OK. So Pella CS tech came and look at the windows. Did not really have an explanation why ice forms inside.

My exterior is stucco. How can I check whether the window frame was installed and insulated properly without taking inner/outer walls apart?

I want to see if it was properly sealed on the outside. How and where do I look?

Poor insulation/seal could explain cold air getting through the frame.

Thanks

 
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12-22-16, 04:20 PM   #13  
You can't. But if you have trim around the perimeter of the window on the inside, you could remove that trim (the casing) and see if the space between the rough opening and the window frame was insulated adequately. A poor job of insulating would lead to the frame and sashes being colder than normal.

 
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12-22-16, 04:31 PM   #14  
No interior trim. Thanks very much though. May just bite a bullet and disassemble one window. If it is not done right, then....

Thanks again.

 
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12-22-16, 05:13 PM   #15  
If no interior trim, then remove the drywall returns. Fixing drywall is cheap compared to tearing out a window and repairing stucco (which will likely never match perfectly). Out of curiosity, how tall are these windows? They have a single locking handle, yes? Longer windows sometimes will have 2.

 
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12-22-16, 05:48 PM   #16  
Did the Pella rep. or anyone else check what the relative humidity in the house is/was? Most newly constructed and occupied houses will have high humidity for the first few years until the moisture of construction exists the structure. If you refer to a psychometric chart you will see at what temperature and humidity level the condensation will occur. Limiting the moisture or raising the temperature are the only ways to deal with the issue. Also, are you running a humidifier either automatically or manually? Automatic ones have a latent response period so when they sense colder exterior temperatures and limit the added moisture it is usually too late with the limiting effect to make a very immediate response with regard to the potential for condensation formation.

As X stated, many people confuse air leakage draft with the fact that a cold surface in a warm room will create a draft by virtue of the fact that a convective air loop will occur much like the effect that occurs when water heats and rises in a pot on the stove. Colder, dense water will fall to the bottom and form a loop as water heats, rises, cools and falls. In a situation such as you have the draft could be the convective loop.

I will say that a few years ago I was at a job where the owner chose the Pella Architects' series of sliding patio doors and we had to replace the sliding panels in each of the two following winters due to air leakage at seals and warping issues.

 
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12-23-16, 04:35 PM   #17  
Thanks.

The humidity is about 30. Pella rep checked. The condensation does not bother me as much. Those windows have r-value of about 3.5, and I expect condensation when it is close to 0F outside.

What bothered me the most was icing. Ice on the interior of the doors and windows. Ice forming inside the interior panel where the shutters are can only be due to cold enough air to freeze the condensation somehow getting inside.

The windows do not close tight enough. I can feel the air coming through as a breeze, not just cold movement. Rep confirmed that.

He will be back to try and adjust the doors once all of the snow melts as he needs access to the outside panels and tracks.

He did change one of the strike plates so that the window closes tighter, but the hinge side of the sash still looks too far away and lets air through. Not sure what to do about that. I did not do much research unfortunately before buying, but since then has read hundreds of similar threads online about Pella windows freezing inside during the first few years after installation ranging from 10 years ago to new 2016 complaints like me.

Yes, I meant tearing the drywall, not the windows. The windows do have one locking handle. We have many windows, but they all are rather small.

Thanks again for your time and help.

 
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12-23-16, 04:55 PM   #18  
When you crank the windows open, is there a snubber on the sash and frame midway up on the hinge side? An improperly placed snubber might push the sash out instead of holding it in.

 
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12-23-16, 05:26 PM   #19  
Yes, there is. The piece on the frame appears to bend a bit outwards, so there is more slightly than 90 degree angle between the two metal edges of the angular piece. Is that the correct way?

Also, when the window is fully closed, there is about 3mm gap between sash and frame, so that I can see a small portion of the latch both on top and on the bottom between the sash and frame. Is that normal? Or should there be completely no gap between the sash and frame?

Thanks

 
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12-27-16, 06:39 PM   #20  
Posting some more pictures. On close inspections looks like the sash and frame are not aligned correctly. As one can see, the gap between them is wide on the bottom along the horizontal surface but then narrows to almost nothing on the hinge side going up. On the latch side, it is quite wide but window is very tight on the top horizontal part.

Is that the defective frame or improper installation?
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12-27-16, 06:57 PM   #21  
No way for us to tell. If we could be there in person, crank the window open and hold a 4' level (as a straight edge) on each surface, (on the sash... then on the frame) we might be able to tell if something is bowed. As I said earlier, the snubber on the hinge side could be misaligned, and could be binding or pulling that side tighter which might explain your narrow gap on that side. I don't know if we can help you further than that, I don't know what else can be said.

One experiment might be to take the one screw out and remove the snubber piece that is on the sash and see if anything changes.

 
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12-27-16, 07:15 PM   #22  
Thanks XSlepper for your help and time. I will take it from here.

 
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