EDUCATION & RESOURCES
WINDOW TIPS AND RESOURCES
How to Clean Your Windows:
Although our vinyl windows require almost no maintenance, you can take a few simple steps to keep them looking their best. We’ve included a series of window cleaning tips as a guide.
When cleaning either side of the glass, you can use any standard glass cleaner or mild detergent. Take care when scrubbing around the frame and glazing to avoid damage. For best results, use paper towel or a soft cloth that is clean and free of lint or other potentially abrasive materials.
Cleaning glass in direct sunlight can cause the cleaner to dry too quickly and leave an unsightly residue, so you will achieve better results working in cloudy or shady conditions.
Our vinyl windows don’t require painting or touch-ups, but they will benefit from occasional cleaning with a mild cleansing agent such as warm soapy water. Avoid using abrasive materials or a high-pressure washer, which could cause damage to the vinyl surface. We also recommend avoiding harsh cleaning agents such as chlorine bleach, nail polish remover or furniture cleaner.
To clean your window screens, you can simply spray them down with a hose at low or medium water pressure. A mild soap and sponge or soft brush should allow you to remove any dirt or debris that has built up. When your screens are clean, be sure to rinse away the cleaning agent and wipe them down with a soft cloth or paper towel before reinstalling in the window.
With its unique blend of style, performance and convenience, vinyl has become the most popular window frame material today. High-quality vinyl windows are designed to deliver return on investment through energy savings and by enduring year after year without the need to repair or refinish.
Here are the top five advantages of using vinyl as a window frame material:
The outstanding thermal performance of vinyl makes it a desirable material for homeowners, builders and trade professionals. We take a number of steps to build on the energy efficiency inherent in vinyl windows, including the use of Low-E glass, warm-edge spacers and a high number of air chambers within the frame.
Compared to aluminum, which conducts heat rapidly, vinyl does a much better job at preventing heat loss and maintaining a comfortable interior environment all year round.
Even within the category of vinyl windows, energy efficiency ratings can vary wildly depending on the manufacturer, glazing, insulation and more. That’s why it’s important to look for the ENERGY STAR symbol and compare key metrics such as U-factor, solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) and energy rating.
Installation will also play a major role in determining the performance and return on investment of the windows. Even the most energy-efficient vinyl windows will lead to problems if air is allowed to pass around the frame.
Vinyl is renowned for its easy upkeep, which amounts to little more than the occasional dusting or cleaning with a mild detergent. Whereas materials such as wood require lots of touch-ups due to fading, splintering or rotting, vinyl can endure season after season of harsh weather without needing to be repainted or repaired.
Advances in technology are continually adding to the design possibilities for vinyl windows, making them an attractive choice for any type of home. At Vinyl-Pro we offer a wide range of durable, fade-resistant colours for our windows, including custom options on request. This versatility allows for seamless matching with interiors and exteriors of all styles.
Our vinyl windows also come with unique artistic touches, including classic and contemporary rosettes for interior trim, as well as the option of a wood-stained finish for truly elegant styling.
We manufacture each of our windows from a lead-free uPVC (unplasticized polyvinyl chloride) compound. In addition to its environmental sustainability, this material gives our windows better resistance to impact, moisture and discoloration, and ensures they won’t crack, warp or blister. As a result vinyl windows will continue to look and perform like new, year after year, in all kinds of climates.
Compared to other window materials such as wood and fiberglass, vinyl is a cost-effective option for both new construction and replacement projects. Over the long term it can provide added return on investment through energy savings at home, as well as in money and time saved because it requires little or no maintenance.
UNDERSTANDING ENERGY EFFICIENCY RATINGS
Energy efficiency is one of the most important factors to consider when buying windows, but the different terminology and volume of information can quickly become overwhelming. To help make comparison shopping easier, we’ve compiled an overview of the main performance markers that determine a window’s energy efficiency rating.
ABOUT ENERGY STAR
In Canada and the United States, ENERGY STAR is the certification system used to identify energy-efficient products such as windows and doors. The ENERGY STAR symbol indicates that a product has met or exceeded certain standards after being tested by an independent laboratory.
Having a single set of standards makes it easier for consumers to compare products. However, those standards occasionally change to keep up with evolving technology or environmental policies, so you should always ensure you’re referring to the latest figures.
It’s also important to note that not all ENERGY STAR products offer the same level of energy efficiency. To understand the differences, take a closer look at the individual performance markers.
U-FACTOR / U-VALUE
U-factor, sometimes called U-value, is a measurement of a product’s resistance to heat loss. Windows with a lower U-factor provide better insulation, meaning they don’t let as much heat escape as windows with a higher U-factor. Choosing windows with a low U-factor is particularly beneficial during the colder months, since you won’t have to compensate for heat loss by running your heating system as high or as often.
SOLAR HEAT GAIN COEFFICIENT (SHGC)
Solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) refers to the amount of solar radiation transmitted through a window and into a home or building. SHGC will appear as a number between 0 and 1, with a lower number indicating that the window transmits less solar heat.
The type of glass plays a significant role in determining SHGC. Low-E glass typically reduces solar heat gain with its protective coating, which can help control air conditioning use during the summer. However, windows with a higher SHGC may be desirable depending on the climate, the room’s orientation and the level of surrounding shade. Talk to your contractor or a window dealer about finding the perfect solution for your space.
VISIBLE TRANSMITTANCE (VT)
Expressed as a percentage, visible transmittance refers to the amount of visible light allowed to pass through a window. A lower number means less light will enter the home or building. This is typically the result with Low-E glass windows, which use a special coating to reduce solar heat gain. But the highest quality Low-E windows can achieve a comfortable balance—letting in lots of natural light while minimizing unwanted heat gain.
Air leakage is a measurement of the amount of air that passes through cracks in a window. A higher rate of air leakage indicates the window is more susceptible to heat loss and gain, which reduces energy efficiency and interior comfort.
Air leakage can also result from improper installation, especially if it occurs around the frame.
R-value is often mentioned in relation to U-value since both are reflections of the same process. Whereas U-value refers to the rate of heat loss through a window, R-value refers to the window’s ability to retain heat. An energy-efficient window should have a low U-value and high R-value.
ENERGY RATING (ER)
This figure captures the overall energy-efficiency score of a window. It encompasses U-factor, air leakage and SHGC, giving consumers a more convenient way to compare products. The standards for energy ratings vary according to climate zone. To earn the ENERGY STAR label in Canada, a window must have a minimum energy rating of 25 in zone 1, 29 in zone 2 and 34 in zone 3.
For homeowners, condensation on the inside or outside of their windows can be a troubling sight, but they may not fully understand the cause or implications of it. Not only is this phenomenon unattractive, it also poses serious health risks and can damage the window over time.
If you’ve ever wondered why condensation forms on your windows or how to stop it, take a look at our answers to some of the most common questions below.
WHAT CAUSES CONDENSATION ON THE OUTSIDE OF WINDOWS?
This is a common sight during spring and fall, when a warm day transitions to a cooler night.
HOW DOES LOW-E GLASS IMPACT CONDENSATION ON THE OUTSIDE OF A WINDOW?
Low-E glass is designed to maintain comfortable conditions inside by reducing heat loss through the window, in some cases cutting heat transfer by 50 percent. As the glass reflects the heat energy back into the room, the temperature of the glass exterior falls, which can lead to condensation. But in this case, the presence of moisture outside actually signals that the glass is performing properly.
HOW DOES CONDENSATION FORM ON THE INSIDE OF A WINDOW?
Condensation on the inside of a window is usually a sign of excessive humidity in the home. Due to high levels of moisture in warm air, it can often result in condensation when coming into contact with a cooler surface, such as a window pane during winter.
ARE WINDOWS RESPONSIBLE FOR CONDENSATION?
No. Properly sealed and installed windows minimize heating and cooling loss, which is a leading cause of condensation. This reduced air leakage ensures that humid air remains inside. When condensation appears on well-insulated windows, it could mean that moist interior air has not been allowed to escape, but homeowners can take a number of steps to control this process.
HOW DO I STOP CONDENSATION FROM FORMING ON MY WINDOWS?
You can reduce condensation on your windows by promoting air flow and reducing humidity inside your home. When the temperature outside begins to fall, you may need to take certain measures to control humidity levels inside. Some of these measures include:
- Using an exhaust fan in the kitchen, bathroom and other rooms where high levels of moisture are often present.
- Turning off or turning down humidifiers when they aren’t needed.
- Ensuring that all ventilation channels leading outside are unobstructed.
- Allowing air to circulate freely through your home for short periods every day.
- Venting clothes dryers and gas appliances to direct moisture outside.
- Opening the fireplace damper occasionally to allow moist air to escape
If your home’s windows are not well-insulated or haven’t been properly installed, your ability to control condensation will be limited. Over time condensation on windows can contribute to mold growth—a destructive presence hidden inside window and wall openings.
Mold is increasingly being linked to child asthma, as well as increases in general respiratory illness, allergies and outbreaks of fungal disease.
HOW TO CHOOSE WINDOWS
There are a lot of factors to weigh when it comes time to choose replacement windows for your home. Not only do your windows have to look good inside and out, they have to be durable, energy efficient and easy to maintain, all at a price that makes sense.
The first thing to consider is whether you should replace the entire window—frame included—or only a portion of it.
Generally a full replacement makes sense when the frame is damaged or when there’s potential for a significant improvement in energy efficiency. This option is more expensive because of the added material and labour involved, which can increase further with upgrades to interior or exterior trim.
PARTIAL REPLACEMENT (RETROFIT)
Alternatively, many homeowners choose to have only the window sash replaced. This cost-effective option leaves the frame and trim intact, which simplifies the installation process but may not deliver the same boost in energy efficiency as a full replacement.
A comparison of the different types of windows will reveal certain advantages and disadvantages for each one, but ultimately the decision should come down to what makes sense for the room. Although your options might be limited by the size or shape of the existing window opening, you’ve still got a lot of choice.
Often it’s the function of the room that will determine which type of window works best. Awning windows, for example, provide lots of ventilation while protecting the interior from wet weather, making them ideal for bathrooms.
Casement windows are popular choices for kitchens because of the same need for ventilation. It’s easy to operate the crank even if you have to reach over the sink, and the larger opening provides lots of natural light.
Due to the variations in design and function, certain types of windows are inherently more energy efficient than others. Operable windows typically sacrifice some efficiency for the convenience of being able to open them. However, the savings over fixed windows is minimal.
Double hung windows, a traditional style often used to maintain the rich aesthetic of older homes, are well suited to most climates, but can lead to higher rates of air infiltration in excessively windy areas. Even with two sashes, though, double hung windows can be highly efficient if they are well made and properly installed. The use of warm-edge spacers and dual or triple glazed windows filled with insulating gas can also compensate for air leakage between sashes.
For rooms adjacent to confined or high-traffic areas such as walkways and patios, an inward-opening window offers the ideal mix of beauty and practicality. Sliding and hung windows are some of the most popular choices here because they still allow for air circulation and easy cleaning without infringing on your outdoor space.
If security is a top priority, you can opt for fixed windows in strategic areas, or equip your operable windows with an upgraded locking system. Our picture windows can also be combined with casement, slider and hung windows for ventilation and impressive styling without sacrificing security.
For more advice on how to choose the perfect windows for your home, speak to a trusted Vinyl-Pro dealer. You can also learn more about our full lineup of window styles and their advantages here
KNOWING WHEN TO REPLACE WINDOWS
You don’t need to be an expert to recognize the warning signs of a window in need of replacing. If you look hard enough you’ll find the evidence is all around—in rising energy bills, declining comfort, even the faded colours of your furniture.
For help deciding when to replace your windows, consider these common issues and warning signs:
If you have trouble opening your windows it could indicate a warped sash or frame, or a problem with the window’s hardware. Not only does this impede air circulation and comfort, it represents a fire hazard.
Stubborn windows are also difficult to clean. One of the advantages of our sliding and hung windows is their inward-tilting sashes, which provide easy access for cleaning of both the interior and exterior.
AIR DRAFT / POOR PERFORMANCE
Drafty windows can be a sign of a poor product or poor installation. Whatever the cause, the effect is unpleasant and potentially costly if it pushes your heating and cooling bill higher as you try to compensate.
Over time, the seal between a window’s frame and its sash can start to fail. This may also result in air leakage, and in some cases water will accumulate in and around the window, leading to mold.
MOLD AND CONDENSATION
Mold is not only unsightly, it can lead to serious health complications such as child asthma and general respiratory illness. Condensation is a common cause of mold growth in and around windows, indicating either a lack of insulation or a poor installation job.
At Vinyl-Pro we use the warm-edge Super Spacer to resist condensation in all of our windows. In addition to improving thermal efficiency, this dual-seal system acts as a moisture vapour seal along the edge of the glass, which is the area most susceptible to heating and cooling loss. Over time that transfer of air can produce condensation and, ultimately, mold.
We also fusion weld the corners of our windows to create a watertight and airtight surface.
RISING ENERGY COSTS
Look no further than your energy bill for help recognizing when to replace your windows. If rising heating or cooling costs can’t be explained by a rise in rates, the issue might stem from poorly insulated or installed windows.
Among other benefits, energy efficient windows reduce the rate of heat transfer, keeping warm air where you need it. Not only does this help maintain a more comfortable environment, it reduces strain on your heating system.
Most people don’t associate energy-efficient windows with quiet, but a well-insulated window can dramatically reduce noise in your home. With a poorly insulated product, noise is allowed to travel freely through the glass or the frame itself.
We manufacture our windows with a high number of internal air chambers to impede air flow and dampen noise. For added soundproofing we offer dual- and triple-paned windows with airtight seals.
If your home still uses single-pane windows, you could experience a significant increase in energy efficiency and interior comfort by switching to dual- or triple-glazed models. Adding an extra pane of glass boosts insulation, reducing the flow of air and noise. This buffer can be further insulated with argon or krypton gas. When it’s time to replace your windows, consider upgrading to triple-glazed windows to see the biggest boost in performance.
FADED FURNITURE AND CARPETING
Although natural light is one of the main benefits of having windows, prolonged exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can result in fading of furniture, carpet, artwork and other organic materials. You’ll know it’s time to replace your windows when items begin to appear less vivid, which indicates a breakdown of the material’s chemical bonds.
Low-E (low emissivity) glass not only improves comfort and reduces solar heat gain, it can dramatically reduce fading by blocking the sun’s harmful UV rays. At Vinyl-Pro we manufacture all of our Low-E windows with Cardinal CG glass—a superior product that blocks up to 95% of UV rays. Even with the added protection, this specially engineered coating still transmits high levels of visible light to offer an unspoiled view of the outdoors.
As a low-maintenance window material, vinyl removes the expensive and time-consuming work of refinishing and repainting that comes with other types of windows. We use a special uPVC (unplasticized polyvinyl) compound that stands up to UV rays and the elements without cracking, blistering or warping. Its high level of resistance to impact and discoloration makes for a virtually maintenance-free window.
If you find yourself investing time and money into maintaining your windows year after year, it could be time to make the switch.
Ultimately it’s up to you to decide when to replace your windows. But if you’d like to learn more about what new windows can do for your home, speak to a trusted Vinyl-Pro dealer today.
WINDOW REPLACEMENT VS. RETROFIT
It’s no secret that high-quality, energy-efficient windows offer a lot of potential benefits and savings to homeowners. But it might not always be clear whether to go with a full replacement or a retrofit.
First, a distinction: A full replacement means the entire window frame and sash are removed. A retrofit, on the other hand, means that only the window sash is removed. In this scenario, the frame and trim remain in place, making it less expensive and labour-intensive than a full replacement.
A trusted Vinyl-Pro partner can help you identify the best option for your home, but these common scenarios will also give you an idea of the key differences.
When a Full Window Replacement Makes Sense
PROBLEMS WITH EXISTING FRAME
One of the most common reasons homeowners choose a full window replacement is because of a problem with their existing frame. In some cases, particularly with wood, rot will have set in, compromising the frame’s structural integrity and the health of the home’s inhabitants.
Rot is often caused by moisture, which in turn can lead to mold growth and a host of further problems. Over time, mold can spread beyond the frame to the home’s wall. A rotting or irreparably damaged window frame should be replaced.
DESIRE FOR MORE SIGNIFICANT INCREASE IN ENERGY EFFICIENCY
If you’ve put off replacing your windows for a long time, you could be missing out on the energy savings, improved home comfort and other benefits of new windows. At Vinyl-Pro we’ve made significant investments in state-of-the-art equipment to offer the most advanced products on the market. We fusion weld the corners of our window frames for a superior seal—one that is airtight and weathertight.
For a product to be ENERGY STAR certified today, it has to meet strict standards and pass independent tests. We’ve engineered our vinyl windows to not only meet but exceed ENERGY STAR compliance.
A full window replacement also gives you the opportunity to update exterior and interior trim. For the ultimate in design versatility, we offer a variety of trim options, corner blocks and PVC jamb extensions with your choice of colour.
When a Window Retrofit Makes Sense
EXISTING FRAME AND TRIM ARE IN GOOD CONDITION
Sometimes referred to as an insert or a sash-only replacement, a window retrofit can deliver significant improvements in comfort and energy efficiency without the cost or hassle of a full replacement. This economical option makes sense if your existing window frames are still in good condition and were properly installed. Retrofit windows will also allow you to keep your current exterior and interior trim, because these details are left intact during installation.
Older homes with high-quality wood-framed windows are also good candidates for a retrofit, since this process won’t disrupt the house’s traditional charm.
INTERESTED IN REPLACING GLASS ONLY
Advancements in window glass technology have led to more choices than ever before, including low-emissivity (Low-E) glass and warm-edge spacers. Upgrading to Low-E windows with triple glazing and warm-edge technology can dramatically improve the comfort and energy efficiency of your home, all without a major renovation. If the glass in your windows is clear, damaged or single-pane, retrofit windows offer a sensible and cost-effective way to upgrade.
If you’re not sure which option is best for your home, talk to a specialist for guidance. Look for a trusted Vinyl-Pro partner in your area to get a detailed breakdown of the pros and cons of each window installation method.