Vinyl windows with insulated glass are great for improving energy efficiency, reducing drafts, and making a home comfortable. They are frequently used in new construction, and can generally be installed as a replacement for older wood windows.
But, there’s something I frequently run into as a Home Inspector which can lessen the efficiency of a vinyl window, and can even cut their lifespan short- it’s not a defect or deficiency with the window, but a step many homeowners fail to do.
First, let’s talk a moment about the window’s construction, and then I’ll tell you the one easy step you can take to help your windows work properly!
Vinyl windows with insulated glass are constructed out of multiple materials- vinyl and other plastics, polyethylene foam, metal, and double or triple pane argon gas-filled glass. As you know, all of these materials have different chemical compositions and are made through different processes, but are combined together to create a great product. They are made to withstand harsh conditions and temperatures, to keep your home protected and comfortable. However, each of these materials respond to heat and humidity differently, and can move, flex, and settle a bit as the seasons change.
Where the upper and lower sashes of the window make contact when they close, there is an interlocking rail for added safety and to create an effective seal against drafts. What I frequently see is windows which will no longer align in this location or properly close- not because they are defective, but because of something simple the owners/occupants fail to do…
Lock the windows.
With gravity wanting to pull down the upper sash (top portion of the window), and so many different materials expanding and contracting at different rates with temperature and weather, the interlocking rails of the window can flex and no longer align. This reduces the windows efficiency by allowing drafts and can even make them difficult to close. When the windows are kept locked, all the parts of the window stay properly aligned with seals and weatherstripping working as designed.
So, if you have vinyl windows, keep them locked when not opened. Many times, when I’ve found issues, it’s on upper floors where it’s thought they aren’t needed for security. I’ve seen windows that are only 5 years old no longer shut properly and were impossible to lock shut.
Want your vinyl windows to last and remain efficient? Do this simple thing- keep them locked when closed.