Local Vancouver Island Manufacturer
Victoria 250-383-7128  |  Nanaimo 250-754-0824  |  Courtenay 250-897-3347

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FAQ

Do I have to have to replace my windows with the same kind?
Renovating is the perfect time to change the style of windows that came with your house when you bought it. Many customers take this opportunity to completely change the look and style, giving their home a complete facelift in the process. It’s also the right time to bring your home up to current building standards and fire egress codes. We will give you all the information you need to give your home a fresh look.

I just spent a lot of money on new blinds; what happens to them?
In most cases we can install new windows without affecting the blinds. We’ll talk about this during your consultation. We also offer exclusive discount coupons to preferred blind suppliers, should you want to update your blinds.

Do I have to be home during the work?
We would prefer that you are available should any questions arise. However, many of our customers prefer to hand us the keys and be away during the work. It’s entirely up to you!

Can I have my new windows installed in the winter?
Yes! Unlike the rest of Canada we are blessed with conditions on Vancouver Island that make it possible to schedule installations just about every day of the year. We adapt our methods for installing right through the cool winter season and there is no impact on your home. We work one room at a time so your home is quickly renovated.  Safety and comfort are priorities – we will never try to install windows on a day with extreme weather that could be damaging to your home.

I have a garden near my windows. What happens to it?
We take care to not damage any plants. However, we recommend that extensive growth be pruned prior to installation. The installers need clear access to the space in front of your windows, but we will try our very best to be attentive to your plants and shrubs during the process.

What is Low-E glass?
The term Low-E glass is an abbreviation for Low-emissivity glass. This glass is made with a coating on the glass which reflects heat (energy) waves. All Energy Star windows are made with Low E glass.

Because the glass is coated with a metallic film to give it the properties that allow it to reflect heat inside or outside, it can at times appear to be hazy. When the sun shines on the glass at a certain angle, the glass will look as though it needs to be cleaned. This is normal and fortunately does not last long. As the sun moves and the angle of contact with the glass shifts, the haze will go away and the glass will appear clear again.

Condensation may form on the outside of the exterior pane of glass in certain circumstances. This is acceptable and indicates that the Low E glass is doing what it is supposed to do – keep heat inside. Exterior condensation is dew, similar to that which forms on grass during damp, clear nights. The problem is that a highly insulated glass unit exacerbates the situation by keeping the exterior glass surface cooler than normal. When the glass is warmed by the sun or air, the condensation will dissipate.

What does Argon gas do in a window?
Argon gas is colourless, odourless, non-toxic, non corrosive and non-flammable. Argon occurs naturally in the atmosphere, making up about 1% of the air we breathe. It is about 30% less thermally conductive than air and is therefore used in sealed units to reduce heat loss or heat gain. Argon is most commonly combined with Low-E glass and replaces the air between the two panes of glass in sealed units. Used by itself, without being combined with high performance glass, argon will give roughly a 5% improvement in efficiency.

Van Isle Windows uses argon gas in our sealed units made with Tempered or Safety glass where energy efficiency is required.

What is the R-Value of your windows?
Windows don’t have an ‘R’ Value, a number that measures insulating qualities. For windows, thermal performance is measured as a U-Value which is the reciprocal of the R-Value. U-Value measures the transmittance of heat so a lower number is better as we try to slow down heat passing through the window. Every window is different. Even otherwise identical windows with grids are different! You can see many examples of our window specifications by following the links on our ‘Resources section’ to the Natural Resources website.

Performance also depends on the type of window (opening, non-opening, sliding, etc.), the frame type (aluminum, vinyl, fibreglass or wood) and the type of glazing. Van Isle Windows now only makes vinyl frames for the best balance of efficiency and cost.

Thermal performance is only one factor to be considered in choosing the window that is right for you. For example, an incorrectly installed window will negate all energy efficiencies you hope to gain.

If you use exterior trim, what does it look like?
For installations that require cutting out your old windows through the existing finish such as stucco or siding, we finish around the new window with a combed-face spruce wood batten. As an option, we can provide a maintenance free PVC surround in white or virtually any colour. There are a variety of style choices to complement your home. Visit one of our local showrooms to view samples.

What does ‘rebate’ window mean?
The term ‘rebate’ is a derivative of the French carpentry term ‘rabbet’ which means to notch a piece of wood. The vinyl extrusion mold for the rebate window frame creates a notch-like profile during manufacture so that the new finished window slides inside your old window frame. We also call this our ‘cap’ window and it is an efficient and cost-effective solution.

What is a ‘nail-on’ window?
The original windows that are now in your home are probably ‘nail-on’ frames, meaning that they are affixed to the home through a nailing flange on the frame of the window. You can’t see the flange as it is hidden by your exterior finish such as stucco. It takes longer to extract and reinstall a nail-on window in the renovation process but it may be the right choice for several reasons, particularly if you want to change the appearance of your home.

Can I paint my vinyl windows?
You shouldn’t because it will void the manufacturers warranty on the frame material and may cause the material to warp. However, we offer factory applied colour finishes on our windows. We are able to do this and still warranty the product because we use a specifically formulated coating designed for this application which is guaranteed not to chip, crack, flake, or cause the window frame to warp or buckle.

The glass in my windows has condensation between the panes. Can you fix it or do I have to buy a new window?
Usually the glass can be replaced with a new sealed unit without disturbing the window. If the window is relatively new, some or all of the cost may be covered under the manufacturers warranty.

Some of the older, first generation thermal windows used a very narrow air space or thinner gauge glass which is no longer available. In that situation, the sealed unit can’t be replaced and a new window is required. Before you decide to replace a failed thermal unit, you should always inspect the whole window to make sure your money is being well spent. For example, if the weather stripping is worn or missing, or the hinges, rollers, or locks are in poor condition, your better value may be to replace the entire window since just replacing the glass will not address the operating or insulating problems caused by the worn components.

Will you be able to match the stucco when you replace my windows, or will it look like a patch?
It seems that it’s almost impossible to patch stucco without it looking like a patch, that’s why we don’t even try. When we replace old single glazed aluminum windows, our preferred method is to “cap” the old window frame with our ‘rebate renovation’ window frame. We leave the old frame in place and make the new window to fit perfectly over it. The old window frame disappears completely in almost every case. There are several benefits to this system. Apart from not having a stucco patch, we are able to maintain the integrity of the wall at the window opening. The original window frame and how it was installed was designed to shed water to the outside of the house, and we don’t want to disturb that. If the old windows aren’t leaking, nothing that we do in the “capping” process will cause a leak.

Some companies will remove the old window completely by cutting around the perimeter of the frame. They then install the new window into the opening with a wide flange on the outside and caulk this flange to the stucco. In our view, this method greatly increases the chance of water entering the building at the window opening (a leak), and therefore we won’t do it.

If the window replacement requires that the old window frame be removed completely, then we treat it like a new construction application. We use the appropriate window frame, with caulking (flashing where required) and sealing tapes, and install it according to accepted building methods. We then install a wooden batten or maintenance free PVC surround around the window to create the finished look.

If your existing windows are old wood framed windows, then we leave the existing frame in place, remove the sashes and make the new window to fit into the original frame. The result is that you have brand new, low maintenance, energy efficient windows that operate smoothly but the look of your home hasn’t really changed since the original frame and brick mould are still in place.

What should I use to clean my vinyl windows?
Never use an abrasive cleanser or cleaning pad as this may scratch the vinyl frame material or glass.

To clean the vinyl frame, use a mild detergent and water or one of the common household cleaners.

To clean the glass, use one of the commercially available glass cleaners, or a mixture of ammonia and water or vinegar and water. Don’t mix vinegar and ammonia together with water because one tends to neutralize the other.

Be careful not to drip cleaning solutions on the woodwork as it may damage the finish. Washing windows in direct sunlight makes them more difficult to clean as they have a tendency to streak.

Rubber squeegees are good for cleaning windows too. but they take a bit of practice to get the best results. Stroke from top to bottom, wiping the squeegee after each stroke.

An extension wand brush Is also good for cleaning the outside of the windows, and some can be attached to your garden hose so that you’re flushing the glass with clean water, but you should make sure that the water volume is low.

Don’t spray the window with a jet of water from your garden hose as this may cause the window to leak, nor should you apply a large volume of water to the window for the same reason. Sliding windows are particularly vulnerable to leaking under these circumstances.

What happens if I use an after-market film product on my Van Isle Windows?
The use of after-market films and coatings will void any remaining warranty.

Although these films are normally very effective in reducing fading, heat gain, and glare, and providing additional security (in fact they are usually very similar to the Low-E coatings or laminated glass which we sell), the reason that it voids the warranty is due to the way that these films are applied. The films are usually applied to the inside of the windows (on the #4 surface), and this can cause heat and UV to reflect back into the sealed unit causing premature failure and an increased risk of thermal stress breakage.

In addition, if the glass is scored during the installation process this can create an increased risk of glass breakage.

What are acceptable viewing standards for residential glass?
Both panes of the sealed glass unit should be viewed at right angles to the glass, from the room side, at a distance of approximately` 2 metres in natural daylight (not direct sunlight).

The area to be viewed is the normal vision area, with the exception of a 5 cm wide band around the perimeter of the unit.

Flat glass shall be deemed acceptable if the following phenomena are neither obtrusive nor bunched:

  • Totally enclosed seeds, bubble or blisters
  • Hairlines or blobs
  • Fine scratches not more than 2.5 cm long
  • Minute embedded particles

Obtrusiveness of blemishes is judged by looking through the glass, not at it, under normal daylight conditions as described above.

Will my new vinyl windows “sweat”?
Condensation on windows is caused by high humidity levels in the home. It is not the installation of new windows that is at fault. If the humidity levels are too high there can be some condensation forming on the glass surface or window frames. Proper ventilation techniques are needed to control the humidity level in your home.

What causes condensation on windows?
When there is excess humidity in the home, it manifests itself in the form of condensation on the coldest area of a wall, which is normally the windows. The warmer the air, the more moisture it will retain. When the air in your home comes in contact with the colder glass surface, it is subsequently cooled and moisture is released in the form of condensation on the glass.

Do windows cause condensation?
No, condensation on windows is not the fault of the window. Sometimes with home renovation, replacing drafty windows or installing a new roof, you are reducing the air flow in your home and making it more airtight. If the humidity level stays the same as before the renovation then the tighter home will retain more humidity and condensation may present a problem. Condensation between the glass panes indicates that the window seal has failed, and this failure may be covered by the manufacturers’ warranty.

Can I reduce the condensation on my windows?
Yes. In order to reduce condensation, humidity must be controlled and air movement must be generated. As the exterior temperature drops, the humidity level needs to decrease if condensation is to be controlled:

  • Use exhaust fans in your kitchen, laundry and bathrooms
  • Vent gas burners, dryers, etc, to the outside
  • Shut off furnace humidifiers and other humidifying devices in your home during the colder weather
  • Use vapour barriers on the earth floor of your crawl space
  • If possible, air out your house for a few minutes each day

Why do insulating glass units fail?
The most common reasons for unit failure are:

  • Exposure to water – units that are not set on blocks at the bottom or which are glazed into windows that do not provide adequate drainage tend to sit in puddles of water and can fail prematurely.
  • Excess heat – on windows with direct sun exposure, heat causes the panes to expand and contract. This movement can weaken the seals until they develop a crack in the sealing compound, which allows moist air to enter.
  • Poor spacer corner or joint construction.
  • Incompatibility of glazing materials with the insulating glass sealants – chemical break down of seal. Silicone sealer can cause this, also window washing with cleaning products that are chemically incompatible.
  • Old age – even the most elastic, flexible seal can’t last forever. Eventually a seal will allow moisture to enter the space between the panes of glass.

The grey spacer between the panes of glass is showing small cracks. Is the sealed unit failing?
No, the unit is operating as expected. The material that makes up the soft part of the spacer bar (Duraseal) will dry in normal light conditions and may develop small cracks at the surface. This does not affect the quality of the seal, nor is it a warranty issue.

Why does the slider on my new patio door not operate as smoothly as the one I saw in the showroom?
The wheels on new patio doors are adjusted to maximum height for manufacturing purposes. All doors must be adjusted after installation. The best way to adjust the wheels is to first take the weight of the door off the wheels, then turn the set screw to lower the wheel. This may need to be done several times in order to find the appropriate level and square position for the slider frame.

The handle on my patio door screen hits the door when opening. Is it made correctly?
Yes, the screen frame is offset to compensate for this. The adjusting screws for the screen wheels need to be facing the interior of the house. If the screen is installed ‘backwards’ then the handle hits the patio door.

If I opt for high performance glass in my new windows, will it affect my house plants?
No, although glass does reduce light coming in. Clear glass is comparable to growing plants in a slightly hazy atmosphere. The effect of Low E products is to reduce lighting levels to about 70 to 75% of full sunlight. This does not appear to adversely affect plant growth, especially since most house plants are selected for their ability to grow under lower light conditions.

How can I reduce traffic noise?
Sometimes a customer will want to reduce sound when having new windows installed. This is most often traffic noise, although we have supplied glass for radio station sound booths as well as to people who live near airports. One simple solution is to substitute laminated safety glass for one of the panes of a double glazed unit. In most cases this will give you a noticeable reduction in traffic noise coming through the window. This is the quick, easy answer and usually the best solution. There are also other advantages to using laminated glass. It helps to reduce fading, is used for added safety in case of earthquakes and provides added security against burglars.

Acoustical performance is rated as Sound Transmission Class [STC] in decibels. A higher STC rating means that less sound is transmitted through a material. A window which utilizes a 3 mm glass sealed unit with a 1/2″ air space has an STC rating of 29 according to most authorities. The same window with 3 mm glass on one pane of the sealed unit and 6 mm laminated glass for the other pane will have an STC rating of about 39. This represents about a 50% reduction in loudness.

If you would like more detailed information on sound reduction windows, please click here.