Replacing the Replacements – A Story of Failed Vinyl Windows

In the April 10th Oregonian, Fred Leeson reported that a condo building in the King’s Hill Historic District, was having all of its windows replaced. In many instances, preservationists would be up in arms when hearing of this, but this is more a case of  “I told you so.” Apparently the 1960s apartment building had its original aluminum framed windows replaced with vinyl a little more than a decade ago. Now the 10- story building has significant problems related to water intrusion – caused by poorly sealed windows.  Not only will the windows have to be replaced (again) the stucco exterior of the building must be replaced as well.

While this is a fairly large apartment building, this same sort of thing can happen in any older building or home and that is why we always encourage people to use storm windows and/or repair their existing windows, sealing air leaks along the way. Don’t get on the vinyl treadmill, as this case exemplifies, you’ll only end up replacing them again and as a result, you’ll never recoup the cost.

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3 Comments

Filed under Historic Preservation

3 responses to “Replacing the Replacements – A Story of Failed Vinyl Windows

  1. Jeff Mounts

    It sounds like the water issues in the condo building are a result of a faulty installation, sometimes called “construction defect”. Unfortunately, I see this too often with buildings constructed only ten years ago. But the problem lies with unskilled laborers installing complex assemblies without understanding how the components interact -not with the choice of product (in this case,vinyl).

    If this same condo building had failed wood-frame windows, would you still be celebrating this failure?

    What is there to love about residential single-glazed metal frame windows anyway? -that was a short-lived experiment for several reasons. Must we preserve failed experiments in the name of historic preservation? The HOA’s only mistake was in the choice of contractor.

    Vinyl is not Evil, get over it. Fighting vinyl seams like a waste of energy to me. I would rather save old buildings, not 60′s glazing. Is 1960′s glazing considered historic? I hope not!

  2. The installation of replacement windows, such as those made of vinyl, may not be “evil” but in many cases does significantly detract from the original – sometimes historic – character of a building. That is why we should continue to question their use, especially in instances where the return on investment (i.e., true energy savings) is decades, at best, in the making. The National Trust for Historic Preservation has great information about windows here: http://www.preservationnation.org/issues/weatherization/windows/

    It was good to hear that in the case of this condo, they were going to install new windows that more closely resemble the originals. Yes, we still have to hope that they are installed properly, but its certainly a step in the right direction.

  3. Pingback: Day 65 – Gain some windows, lose some glass « Our RemodoBlog

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