DIY Home Improvement Forum banner

Picture window!

2344 Views 6 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  feido
We are looking into vinyl replacements. We have had one estimate done and I am wondering if we really need to do our large living room window. Hopefully my description makes sense.
The house is about 35 years old. This window is divided into 4. The two sides crank out and the two middle ones do not . They are the gas/air type filled and about 5 years ago we had the two middle windows (glass only) replaced as the seals were bad, they had condensation in them and would not clear. They seem fine yet, seal is good, windows are clear. The past few winters I have been noticing streaks on the wall below the window. It's not wet, but it is stained and I would have to paint to cover it.
Is it best just to have the whole window replaced in case there are other issues involved like leaking? Or is this actually normal 'condensation' and there is a way to deal with it?
1 - 7 of 7 Posts
Are the streaks water damage? If they are dark shadows it may just be dust that tends to favorably accumulate on cold surfaces. This typically occurs at the wall studs because they conduct heat away faster than the insulated space between the studs. Very common if you burn candles or have a leaky gas furnace (bad) but can occur just from dust.

But if it is water streaks then it might very well be a flashing issue rather than a bad window. The flashing can be redone properly with the existing window so no need to buy a new one.

Maybe these pictures will help. Pretty sure they are water damage. It is worse this year than it was last year and mainly seemed to worsen during the winter months. I can't wipe the streaks off at all with a wet or a dry cloth. It is streaked like this the whole length of the window. There is one vertical area about the width of a 2x4 where the paint has started to crack. The drywall doesn't feel soft and the cracking is just contained to that spot so I suspect that is where the main problem is. If it is the flashing, maybe we are catching it in time??

Would it be worth having the contractor just take the window out and repair the flashing? Probably a pain for him but if he's getting paid he shouldn't care. Only problem is if it is more than the flashing we are without a window until one can be ordered.



See less See more
We're right now paying a hefty bill to get the front siding and windows redone... so I feel your pain in not wanting to replace such a huge series of windows...

That being said, 35 years old is the exact age of our house as well. We've also had water staining under casement windows. In our case, the frames were rotting. The condensation that was on the windows was due to what my contractor calls "glass failure"... (the seals holding the glass no longer are air tight). That could be due to failure of the seals, or something going wrong with the frame.

My attitude is this: the main enemy of a homeowner is water. If it infiltrates into your wall (via roof, window, or siding), you'll get rot, bug infestations, and structural damage. These are HUGE bills to pay. Better to be safe and replace a window that you suspect is failing. It's cheaper to get it done right along with the others than it is to wait and call guys out to only repair this area.

We originally had about $35k of windows and doors that needed replacing :pinch:. We've been doing them in large batches. Once this latest home repair is complete, we will only have 25% left (the old windows in the best condition). Already, we have fewer bugs, no more water stains, and the home is less drafty. So, it's definitely beneficial.

hope this helps!
See less See more
feido -

Repairing the flashing will require the removal of a portion of the external siding. Since over 65 % of the windows are not installed and flashed properly, it is not surprising you may have some problems. As the moisture accumulates in a wall, the wood and fiberglass will hold a lot of moisture that does not dissipate, but does radically influence or lower the insulating value (the so-called "R-value" determined by lab tests under ideal controlled conditions). This results in a cooler wall in the winter and more condensation that will attract dust and smoke, causing stains.

A good moisture intrusion engineer with the proper long probes and matching meters can give you a very good idea quickly if there is an abnormal amount of moisture in the wall. Usually they can find out with 4 or 5 pokes of a 1/8"x 6" probe around a window assembly since they see so many similar problems. - Beware of contractor or salesmen that advertise testing, but do not have the knowledge and equipment.

Something like 1/2 to 1% moisture in fiberglass can reduce the insulation by as much as 50%. Couple this with the 10 to 15% thermal short-circuiting of the studs, your so-called R13 wall could easily be less that R6.

A window is really just a poorly insulated hole in a wall (according to window manufacturers data), so it does not pay to have the insulation area around the window ruined by moisture intrusion.
See less See more
That does look like water streaks and looks a lot like condensation streaks. It looks like its condensing and then running down the surface of the wall. Could be a leak I guess but if it only happens during the winter and only down the surface then it's likely condensation. But Concretemasonry makes a good point that wetness in the wall from a leak could cause the winter condensation. I like his idea of checking for moisture in the wall.

Other ways to visually look for moisture in the wall would be to carefully remove the window casing, remove the outlet cover plate (look in the gap between the box and the drywall - don't get shocked) and remove the heat register and poke a small hole through the drywall in an area that will be hidden when you replace the register. These methods aren't as good as a moisture probe because you can only check what you can see and what you see is limited.

Do you use a furnace humidifier during the winter? The reason I ask is that the streaks are close to the heat register and typically the hot air would reduce condensation unless you are using a humidifier in which case you are dumping moist warm air agains a cold exterior surface.
See less See more

Thanks for the input guys. The more this leads to water damage signs and considering the age of the windows, I'm probably better off to bite the bullet and just have it replaced. In the long run the a better energy efficient window and knowing no further water damage can occur is more than worth the peace of mind.
1 - 7 of 7 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.