Answers to your Window and Door Questions

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  • 1-5 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 0-2,000

Q. My son wants to remove the six-foot sliding glass door which leads onto his second-story deck and frame it in and build a ground level deck.

Can this be done safely? After removing the door we will nail in the wall, will the header need to have jacks in place to hold it up after removing the door?

A. The six-foot patio door currently has a header over it, and jack studs supporting it. Once the door is removed, all you need to do is frame it in.

Q. Our new home has been bid with Windsor windows. The U rating is .35, which from reading other posts, could be better.

man installing windows in a home

We are considering upgrading to the higher level of this brand window but wanted some opinions on it if any of you are familiar with this brand. I don't think the windows that have been bid are gas filled either.

A. A U-value of .35 is not the best you can find on the market, but it does meet the minimum recommendation for your climate.

Depending on how much you are going to spend, I would make sure I had several competitive bids before making a final decision.

I would personally prefer a U-value of about .28 or better, but if you are happy with everything else about the windows - including price - then I would not quibble about a few percentage points.

A .35 is not a bad number and is probably a great deal better than what you or most of your friends and neighbors have now.

One thing to keep in mind is that the installation of a window is at least as important as the window itself.

I have said before, but I will say again that the best window in the world poorly installed is not as good as an average window with a top-notch installation.

Gas fill will get you a few percentage points of insulating improvement as well, and if the original bid does not include it, then see what they want for that upgrade.

The cost of an argon fill should not be that high, maybe $15 a window max, so use that to your advantage and negotiate for it.

Some companies charge an arm and a leg for argon fill, but usually, that is because they make their own IG's and are not very efficient in filling the IGU with the gas—or, they just like a nice profit mark-up.

Q. I will be replacing glass in some windows and I saw an acrylic manufactured by Lucite that is supposed to be "better than glass."

sheets of acrylic

I'm just wondering if anyone has any knowledge or experience with using acrylic vs. glass in window applications?

A. Acrylic is better than glass if you are interested in the safety aspect and the fact it is more difficult to break.

Other than those two things, acrylic is inferior to glass in that it scratches easily, can yellow in time, and shows distorted images (depending on size and thickness) when looking through it.

Acrylic does have improved impact resistance versus glass.

Acrylic will have poorer energy and sound performance when compared with glass. Acrylic also has a tendency to distort when exposed to direct sun-heat.

Q. I took my screens down to wash and don't know if they go back in spline side in or spline side out - they fit both ways, as they are metal screens.

A. The spline usually faces the outside.

Q. What is the difference on the gauge of a door: 24, 25, 26, etc.? Is steel better than aluminum?

I need to replace my old sectional because it is cracking in the middle of the door and I don't want to get ripped off.

What important questions do I ask the salesperson who's going to give me an estimate?

A. The smaller the gauge number the heavier (thicker) the door material will be.

Aluminum is nice because it will never rust/rot, but it is more prone to dings should kids happen to cross paths with the overhead door.

Q. I am finishing up hanging drywall in my room addition. I need advice on when to install the interior windowsills.

room under construction

Is this prior to finishing out the interior sides of the window opening so the notches in the sill will be covered by the 1/2" drywall on the side?

A. Generally, the sill (technically the stool) goes on first, and yes, the remaining trim covers the notches. Poplar is used because it is cheaper than clear pine.

Q. I've got a problem with my windows. The window's got double panes and there's condensed moisture between the panes.

I was going to hire someone to remove it but someone told me I could do it myself. He said I should drill tiny holes in it with a diamond drill and then the moisture would evaporate.

But I'm very skeptical. What if I break or fracture the glass? Isn't this very risky? And how should I go about this?

A. Insulated windows with moisture between the panes have lost their seal, and are no longer insulating. Drilling holes in the glass will not stop the moisture.

These windows need to be replaced. You can't repair them. Some companies do offer to drill a hole in the top of the frame between panes and remove the condensation for a fee, but let the buyer beware.

As previously noted herein, the window's seals are broken and the problem will persist along with all that implies.

Gas-filled windows will lose their efficiency and can impact significantly the overall health of your home, not to mention inflating your utility bills.

In the long run, it's best to replace them as soon as possible.

Q. I'm incredibly disappointed. I replaced my magnetic weather stripping on my two exterior metal doors with the "M-D" brand of weather stripping I picked up at the home improvement store (it "fits most" doors according to the label).

rolled up worn weather stripping

My old weather strip was getting old and crusty, and there were some drafts and visible gaps needed fix. (sic) I installed the new strip, and it went on very easily, but the stuff doesn't fit.

It doesn't fit by a mile. Now I have huge gaps that I can see right through. Even on the compression (non-magnetic) side, there's a huge gap. What gives?

The magnetic strip appears to be long enough to reach the door when fully extended. Even if I pull the door hard and smash it into the stripping, the magnet barely holds.

Is there anything I can do to salvage this or do I have to trash it and swallow the $40? Should I just get super-thick foam insulation instead?

A. This is a very common problem with doors. Weather-stripping will not function properly on a door that is not plumb. The way to plumb a door is simple.

Open the door and put a wedge under the knob side of the door. Lift up on the knob and at the same time look at the hinge. If the hinge moves, then the screws are loose.

If so, then take a level and plumb the door by moving the wedge under the door. Once the door is plumb, take toothpicks and dip them in wood carpenters glue.

Remove one screw at a time and insert the toothpicks. Cut off the pieces that protrude and re-insert the screw.

You do not have to wait for the glue to set up but you should check for plumb after each screw is done.

If the screws are not loose, then your frame is out of square. The way you determine it is by measuring three inches from the side jamb along the top jamb and marking it.

Then measure four inches down from the top jamb on the side jamb and mark it. The distance diagonally from the two marks should be five inches.

If not, then the frame is not square and the doors cannot be plumb in an opening that is not. First, determine if the top and side jambs are level and plumb with a level.

Also, look for gaps between the level and the jambs, when the level is flush up against the jamb. If there are gaps between the level and the jamb, then the jamb is bowed.

Put a 2x4 against the jamb and hammer lightly on the high spots until the level is flush against the jamb with no gaps. A low spot is where there are gaps and a high spot is where there are no gaps.

Do a little at a time and check frequently to see if you removed the gaps. Then check for square by using the three, four, and five measurements. This takes some practice but is easy to learn.

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