Sunroom Questions: Maintenance and Repair

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Q. I have a sunroom that is about 20 years old, with extruded Al frame and double-paned glass. Many of the window seals have broken, so the windows are fogged. In addition, rain leaks through the joints. I'm trying to decide if it's worth replacing individual glass panes and seals or just replace the whole glass/frame structure. Any advice out there on how successfully and reliably one can replace the glass? Are there glass sizes standards; will a replaced seal between the frame and glass be reliable? Can I do this myself?

A. Deal with the frame leaks first: Make sure all of the weep holes are clear. You should find weep holes along the outside of the bottom track, probably about every two feet. There should be weeping holes in the bottom track of each window frame, near each corner. After that, make sure all of the joints where the wall panels go into the AL frame are properly caulked. A couple of tubes of silicon and cleaning out the old caulking should do fine.

As for the window IG units, no they aren't a "standard" size. Each one is made to order. (You probably have many that will be the same size, or at least only two or three different sizes.) Your best bet is to take them to a glass shop and let those guys measure and order them for you. You'll need a count on just how many of which size you need. It'll take about a week to get the IG units. Replacing them is certainly a DIY thing, especially in sunroom/patio room windows. Take one screw out of the upper left corner and one out of the lower right corner, and the frame can be removed from the IG unit.

Q. I have recently had a 3-season aluminum screen room with windows put up on a 12x13 level slab of new concrete. The concrete had been cured prior to installation. When it rains very hard, the seams where the concrete meets the aluminum floor beams leaks. The water seeps in, although very slightly. I had the company come back, and caulk inside and out, and it stills seeps in, but not as much. Any suggestions to stop the water from seeping through? Should I concrete a new border, more caulk, a special new type of chemical coating, etc.? I want to tile, will that be a problem?

A. Have them come back until it's fixed. The only thing I can think that it is would be condensation from the inside running down the walls and pooling at the wall-floor joint or coming in from the slab edge and walls outside. Since the caulking reduced it considerably, I would guess it's the latter and more caulking is required. They should have caulked it originally when installing it, as that is the time to lay mastic on the bottom sill joint.

Q. We purchased our house approximately 2.5 years ago (it was built in 1985), and we have a sunroom, which has given us nothing but headaches. We recently discovered we had termites in the wooden floor. After treating the termites and pulling up the floor and subfloor, we realized we had a serious leak somewhere because of all the moisture we found. We prepared the floor and started to put tile down when it started to rain. I mean it rained for several days. We found the problem area during the rain and had to wait until it stopped to attempt fixing it. My husband started looking and discovered that it has been leaking for so long that the wood around the frame is rotten. The walls inside don't appear to have any serious damage that we can see, but we don't even know where to begin dealing with this. We thought about having someone come out to look and get estimates to repair the area but I think they would have to remove the sunroom frame from the house to get to the wood underneath. Does anyone know how sunrooms work? I'm thinking they would have to remove most of the windows before taking the frame away from the house. I'm also thinking this is going to cost me an arm and a leg. Would it be difficult and expensive to have an insulated roof built to replace the "ceiling" of glass? How would I go about finding a good contractor to do this kind of work?

A. At least a portion of the sunroom wall would have to be removed to get to the water damaged siding that it is attached to. How much depends on how the sunroom was built. Converting the 'glass ceiling' to an insulated roof is doable - again it depends on how the room was constructed. In either case, the best way to find out what would be involved, and how much it will cost, is to call several contractors for estimates. Start in the Yellow Pages and look under 'Patio Covers' to start with. There might be a possibility that the seller of the house knew about these problems with the sunroom and failed to disclose them to you. If the room has given you "nothing but headaches," there's a good chance it was the same for them.

Q. I have a Suncraft sunroom constructed in about 1977-1985. It has curved glass that has fogged up. Suncraft no longer exists. A fellow who is knowledgeable about sunrooms in the area says there are no manufacturers that make the same size curved glass suitable for a replacement. Would a custom glass manufacturer be best to consult?

A. If it's glass, you probably can't replace it with glass. Each sunroom manufacturer uses a different radius in the curved portion of their purlins, and the glass is manufactured to that particular radius. Lexan is simply bent over the curve once all of the purlins are in shape, then the retainers are installed, and then the top cap. You might run this by "the knowledgeable fellow" and see what his thoughts are.

Q. I am looking at building a deck off the master bedroom. Can this deck act as a roof for my sunroom? If so, what do I put down for flooring or roofing?

A. I recommend that you use a system like Underdeck below the second story deck. This will keep everything below dry, and allow you to use just standard decking on the second story.

Q. I have a sunroom (14' x 24') made up of six sets of patio doors. What can I put on the windows to keep the heat in the room in the winter and keep the sun out in the summer? It already is getting hot there in the daytime. Window film will invalidate my window warranty so that's not an option. Does anyone have any suggestions on what I should do?

A. Whatever you do to reduce the heat gain or loss through those sliders isn't going to be cheap. My first suggestion would be to replace the glass IG units in the sliders with IG units that have Low-E or Low-E squared glass. You are looking at probably $100 per pane, or about $1,200 for six sliders. Providing shade for the sliders will reduce the heat gain in the summer but it won't do a thing for the heat loss in the winter.

Q. The situation is a solarium on the third level in a Chicago condo. The age of the sunroom is 10 years. One of the glass panels, which is 28" x 44", has accumulated 1 1/2" of water standing in it. With winter coming, I can only envision the water freezing and the glass shattering. There are seven fogged glass panels and all need replacement but finances right now are limited. Two quotes to replace one panel are in the $500 range. Does this sound accurate? I'm not sure what brand of sunroom this is, as no paperwork was exchanged at closing, but I'm chasing down the developer who rehabbed the condo 10 years ago. What kind of warranties typically exists on these? Would it be worthwhile to file a claim with my homeowners' insurance?

A. Go to any local glass shop, taking one of the panes with you if you can in the frame. They can measure the IG units and order you new ones. You just have to make sure that they are all the same size, or be able to tell them what the size difference is. For 28" X 44" you should be looking at about $100 to $125 per window for glass. Installing it yourself is no big deal, but getting it home from the glass shop without a frame around it will be the problem. It's probably better to pay the glass shop $15 or $20 a pane and let them install them, assuming that all of the affected frames are removable.

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