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Window Replacements

7 risks an improper window installation and how to avoid it

October 8th, 2021 | 8 min. read

7 risks an improper window installation and how to avoid it

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A window replacement is a big investment in your home. When you finally take the leap to get your windows replaced, are you aiming to waste your money? Of course not!

Because the cost of a window replacement can be steep, you want to invest in something of high quality that will last. 

The largest factor that will influence the longevity of your new windows is the quality of the installation. Even if the best windows in the world are installed improperly, they will not work as well as they should. 

This is why when you’re shopping for replacement windows, you want to make sure you find a contractor that you trust to install your windows correctly and with care. 

Southwest Exteriors has been a window replacement expert in San Antonio for over 30 years. Because we’ve been replacing windows for so long, we know the importance of developing a high-quality installation process and being educated on the best practices to install different types of windows. 

Some windows require stucco banding. Some must be inserted a certain way to fit properly. If a contractor is not professionally trained on installing the different types of windows they offer or claim to install, then chances are, they are not going to be installed as high-quality as they should. 

This article will outline the top seven risks cased by a low-quality window installation so that you are aware of what will potentially happen if you choose a low-quality contractor. 

After reading, you will know the most common problems that come with poor window installation. This way, you can avoid a blindside if you choose a less expensive contractor and know the common issues that come with it. 


#1. Seal failure

The most common problem that occurs from an improper window installation is seal failure. What seal failure means is when the caulking or weather stripping around the window frame begins to peel up, crack, or break off. 

A window is meant to protect your home from outside elements like wind, rain, and solar heat. If the seal around the window fails, you risk damaging the interior of your home, its internal frame, and decreasing the energy efficiency of your home. 

Seal failure occurs when the caulk is not applied properly around the window, or a cheap product or the wrong product is used. 

Exterior caulking should have a minimum lifetime of 50 years. Anything less is not going to last. Similarly, if caulk meant for interior sealing is used on the exterior, that is a recipe for disaster and will without a doubt fail. 

When seal failure occurs, four major problems stem from it: foggy windows, drafts, water infiltration, and rot. 


#2. Foggy windows 

Seal failure around your windows causes moisture to get in between the panes of the window. This will trap condensation in the window and make them appear foggy. 

It is impossible to clean the inside of your window panes once that moisture gets in there. This is irreparable damage that can only be fixed by replacing the entire window. 


#3. Drafts around the window

The second most common symptom caused by seal failure is feeling drafts around your window. This means that air passes through the seam of the window, allowing air from the outside to get in and out. 

Drafts coming from your window means the cool air inside your home isn’t staying in during the hot summers. On the flip side, your house won’t stay as warm as it should during the winter. 

Drafts ultimately decrease the energy efficiency of your home as well as its insulating capabilities. 


#4. Water infiltration

While a broken seal can allow air to pass through the seams of the window, it also allows water to get into your home. 

Any rain, snow, or hail can make its way through and around your window’s edges. If you notice water forming around the seals of your windows, this means the sealant has failed and is allowing that water to come in from the exterior. 

Of course, you never want water to get into your home, but water infiltration causes something much worse than just a little puddle: rotting. 


#5. Rot

Rot is one of the most high-risk symptoms that occur from seal failure. When the seal is broken, this opens the door to allow water to get between the window and the frame. 

Still water trapped on a wooden surface is a recipe for disaster. When there is too much water that can’t evaporate off the wood, this causes rot in the wood.

Not only can water infiltration cause rotting in the frame of the window but in your home’s inner structure as well. Damaging the inner structure of your home will weaken it and be very costly to have repaired. 

This makes rotting an extremely high risk when you have a poor window installation. 

Overall, seal failure is one of the most common risks that come with a low-quality window installation. It can cause irreversible damage and ultimately lead you to replace your windows….again. 

Combatting seal failure is easy. All you need is a high-quality contractor that you know is trained professionally to install your windows correctly and uses top-quality products to seal the window properly. 


#6. Poor operability 

Because the installation of a window is so crucial to the quality of the window, a low-quality installation will affect how well the window will operate. 

If an installer does not have professional training and experience, they may or may not install the window correctly. 

No window opening is perfectly square. Because your home shifts over time as the foundation settles, this also slightly shifts every opening in your home, like windows and doors. 

Replacement windows must be measured down to the eighth of an inch to fit perfectly into the frame opening. If not, there may be large gaps on one side of the window edge or in one corner, forcing the installer to fill that gap with caulk, which is incorrect. 

Improperly trained installers can also accidentally install the window upside down or sideways if they don’t know better (trust us, we’ve seen it). 

If the window is not installed correctly, upside down, or not leveled horizontally and vertically, this can affect the operability of the window or how you can open, close, and use the window. 

For example, a double-hung window installed unlevel to the vertical will slam down when you try to tilt the sash in because that window was installed slightly tilted back. 

This is why it is crucial to find a high-quality contractor that is professionally certified in installing the windows you want and has the credibility of their work. 


#7. It is more costly 

When your windows fail you sooner than expected, you’re going to have to get them repaired or most likely replaced completely. 

We know how appealing it is to see an advertisement for five windows for $1,000, but you get what you pay for in the home improvement industry. 

The lowest-priced contractor is never going to be the highest quality. When you choose the lower-priced contractor over the higher-cost one, you choose a lower quality installation than a high-quality one. 

This means that you are going to experience seal failure, fogginess between panes, drafts, rot, and poor operability of the window within just a few years of use, forcing you to get your windows replaced again. 

What this translates to is that a cheap, low-quality window replacement is less expensive at the moment but will cost you more in the long run. Even a less expensive window replacement is a big investment. 

In the long run, it will benefit you and your home to bite the bullet upfront and choose the high-quality window contractor for your project if you are a long-term homeowner. 

However, if you are a house-flipper just looking to spruce up the windows before selling, the least expensive option may be for you. You are not left to deal with the consequences. 


How to know if you had a bad window installation

There are several signs that may indicate that you had a bad replacement window installation. Here are a few things to look for:

  1. Drafts: If you feel air coming in around the windows or notice a significant difference in temperature near the windows, it could indicate a poor installation.

  2. Water damage: If you notice water stains or damage near the windows, it could mean that the windows were not properly sealed during installation, allowing water to seep in.

  3. Difficulty opening or closing: If the windows are difficult to open or close, or they don't stay open, it could be a sign that the installation was not done correctly.

  4. Condensation: If you notice a significant amount of condensation forming on the windows, it could mean that the installation was not done correctly, or that the windows are not properly insulated.

  5. Uneven appearance: If the windows appear uneven or are not flush with the wall, it could indicate a poor installation.

If you suspect that you have had a bad replacement window installation, it is important to contact a professional installer to have the windows inspected and repaired if necessary.


How to avoid a low-quality window installation 

No homeowner intentionally chooses to have a low-quality window replacement that will cause them problems in the future. This is why you must know how to choose the right contractor and what to look for in a high-quality window installer. 

You want a contractor that has been locally established for many years, has a great online presence, answers all your questions, and maintains constant communication with you throughout the entire experience. 

Asking questions during a consultation is the best way to decipher whether a contractor is trustworthy or not. Trust your gut feeling. If something about a contractor seems off or you sense some dishonesty, you are probably right. 

Even if you are worried a high-quality contractor may be out of your budget, most contractors offer payment options that allow you to pay for your project in monthly installments. 

At Southwest Exteriors, we strive to provide the highest quality products, services, installation, and warranty. Your satisfaction and experience are most important to us. 

Our installers are certified and trained on each type of window we offer to ensure they are installed correctly and of the highest quality. We never rush through our work because we know how big a difference attention to detail makes. 

Are you ready for a high-quality window installation? Contact us by filling out the form on our webpage to schedule a free in-home consultation with an expert design consultant.