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Old 04-14-2009, 08:17 AM   #1
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Problems with Pella ProLine double-hung breaking when clenaning


Five years ago I replaced all the windows in my house with Low-E double-hung Pella ProLines from Lowes. They seemed like good windows for the price. I've been very happy with the look and energy performance - my heating bill went down dramatically the winter after installing them. However, I have one major problem with these windows and wonder if anyone else has had it: they break easily when cleaning them. I have broken three of them so far.

I believe the reason they break is the design is flawed. Many double-hung windows have little slider locks on the sashes that you flip inward to allow the sash to slide in. The ProLines, however, have an air-tight jamb that you must squeeze to allow the sash to be pulled into the house. You have to press one side of the jamb, fight with the sash to get it lose, then do the other side. This process twists the glass, sometimes causing it to crack. I've broken three of them so far.

At this point you're probably thinking I installed the windows too tight or the jambs are bowed inward. Hogwash, I say! I know that's not true, every one is perfectly plumb and square. The sashes slide up and down without any difficulty; they're just really hard to swing inward for cleaning and often they break. Has anyone else had this problem with these windows?

I should mention the three I've broken have all been narrow windows, I think they're 24" wide. I've never broken one of the wider 32" windows I have.


Continue reading if you want to hear a funny story about dealing with Pella's warranty department...


When I broke the first one, Pella agreed to replace it without me going into much detail at all. Perhaps they're aware it's a common problem. I told them I needed an upper sash for a particular window and they said I'd have it in 10-14 days.

A week and a half later, the replacement sash arrived. It was for the correct window, but it was the wrong sash! It was the lower one. I called Pella to explain what had happened. They apologized and said, “Let me rush the correct one out to you.”

“What should I do with the one I just received?” I asked.

“Throw it away, or maybe keep it as a spare.”

“You’re kidding. You don’t want me to ship it back?”

“Nope. Is there anything else I can help you with today?”

Ten days later, the second replacement sash arrived. Again, it was the lower sash when I needed an upper. So now I had two "spare" lower sashes. So I called Pella again to explain what happened - that I had a replacement sent to me under warranty, but received the lower sash when I needed an upper, then called Pella, had another sent to me, but received the lower sash again, when I needed the upper - and to do whatever it takes to have them send me the upper sash this time. She said that her computer system was down and couldn’t look up my information, but would write it all down on paper and get it into the system when the computer comes back up. Uh-huh.

A week and a half later, when no new sash had arrived yet, I had a sneaking suspiscion that it was never ordered. So I called Pella. They had no record of me requesting a third replacement sash. No third order had ever been placed. The guy I spoke with this time put in the order to have another sash sent to me. But before ending the conversation, I just wanted to make sure…

“When I ask for the top sash, that does mean the one that sits higher than the other one, right? Top doesn’t mean the one that’s lower, does it?” I asked.

“The top, or upper sash is the one that is closest to the exterior of the buiding. The one that is higher when the window is closed.”

“OK. I just wanted to make sure that I wasn’t repeatedly ordering the wrong sash because of some nomenclature issue. So you’re going to ship an upper sash to me?”

“Yes. We’ll rush that out to you.”

A week and a half later, the correct sash finally arrived. It was a good thing I had those spare lower sashes, because some point between then and now I broke a lower one. This past weekend I broke another, only this time it was an upper. I don't have a spare upper sash, so I have to go through this process again. The windows are five years old now, let's hope I can even get a new one under warranty...

I think from now on I'm going to clean the outsides of the windows from the outside on a ladder. I'm done having windows break because of a lousy design.
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Last edited by jpsmith; 04-14-2009 at 08:55 AM.
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Old 04-15-2009, 06:14 AM   #2
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Problems with Pella ProLine double-hung breaking when clenaning


Well at least, you have some spares. I won't go into my rant about Pella service, you are too familiar with that. I know it is difficult to get the windows to tilt out evenly without three hands, but I suspect that is your problem. The sash needs to come out straight. If one side comes out before the other, the sash is twisting, and the glass can only take so much of that. Manual dexterity is the main thing that seperates us from lower animals, but some engineers don't understand that, and give us designs that require three hands to manipulate.
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Old 04-15-2009, 07:22 AM   #3
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Problems with Pella ProLine double-hung breaking when clenaning


Thanks for the reply. I know that they have to come out straight. The problem is that it's next to impossible to get them to come out straight. You have to start one side, then the other. And because they're so difficult to start, the chances of more-than-starting one side is pretty high, so the chance of breaking the glass also is pretty high. It's safe to say that I won't be buying Pella windows again, at least not ones with this design.

I should also mention that the wood has broken on three of my sashes. Two of them broke at the bottom of the when raising the sash, and one actually broke at the top of the sash when attempting to swing it inward to clean the outside glass.
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Old 04-15-2009, 09:34 AM   #4
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Problems with Pella ProLine double-hung breaking when clenaning


Jack,
These windows can be a bit difficult to release from their jambs. I made up a wooden tool to spread the jambs apart a bit to make it easier to remove them.
Make one up and you won't be breaking any more windows. Its just a square block of wood with small projections on both ends to fit into the jamb. Just place one end in at an angle and slide the other end down to spread the jambs. Just make sure no one is below the window when using the tool. It looks like this.
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Old 04-15-2009, 09:42 AM   #5
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Problems with Pella ProLine double-hung breaking when clenaning


That's a great idea! I'll make one up for each size of window I have this weekend. You could patent it - call it the "JambJack" and get that Shamwow guy to sell it...
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Old 04-15-2009, 12:09 PM   #6
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Problems with Pella ProLine double-hung breaking when clenaning


I showed the Pella salesman this device but I think my idea did not get past him because then the company would be admitting their window jambs are too tight. I made sure my windows were measured right and installed plumb and square and not to tighten the jack screws on either side of window too tight. I wonder if parts of the window are manufacturered some where else? This perhaps could cause flaws to appear.
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