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Frequently Asked Questions

Please also see our Buyers Guide Download as those questions which are most important when considering purchasing Replacement Windows, Doors & Porches are included there.

If you are having problems with work currently being carried out you will find good advice at the BBC Watchdog Guides, listed at the bottom of this page Go There.


Click the question from the list below for the relevant answer:

  1. I have recently moved and had a problem with the lock on a door that had been replaced by the previous owners. The Company that fitted it say that it is still under guarantee, but that I must pay 50.00 to have the Guarantee transferred into my name, before they will come and repair it. Can they really do this?

  2. We recently had new windows and doors fitted by XXX Home Improvements. Generally they did a very good job but on one window a lot of the surrounding plaster and wallpaper seems to have come loose and is now very loose and lumpy. They are saying that repairing this does not form part of the work, how do I stand?

  3. I'm getting quotes at the moment to replace my windows. Two of the Companies have offered me a discount if I let them put up their advertising board, in one case 50 and in the other a lot more. What do you think?

  4. What can I do about PVC windows, fitted about 17 years ago, that seem to be going a dull yellow colour?

  5. I have been told that I should only buy Replacement Windows that are fully reinforced. Is this correct?

  6. What is the difference between welded joints and 'mechanical' joints? Is it important?

  7. My windows have little 'covers' or 'cap's' fitted at the bottom, about inch wide. Water drips out of these and leaves a nasty mark. What are these for and is there anything I can do to keep them clean?

  8. What is FENSA ?

  9. What is the difference between aluminium and steel reinforcing in PVC windows?

  10. Should I have toughened or laminated glass in my new windows. It is much more expensive but I have been told that it is much safer?

  11. One of the panes in my double glazing has gone misty and has condensation on the glass inside the unit. How has this happened and can it be repaired?

  12. I've had new windows fitted and now, instead of getting rid of it, I've got even more condensation? Help!

  13. My new windows looked great once the fitters had finished, but they didn't put my curtains back up, saying that it was not in the contract? Hardly a finished job!

  14. One of the top openers on some very old double glazing has gone loose. If I open the window, it simply shoots out to its fullest extent and I have to lean out to get it closed. Is there anything I can do to mend this?

  15. I have a terrible draught coming through one of my windows, any ideas?

  16. Can I get a Grant to replace my windows?

  17. The double glazed door in our kitchen, which was replaced about 7 or 8 years ago, has become very difficult to lock and sometimes 'catches' on the frame when being shut. The Company that did the work is no longer around, can you give us any advice?

  18. I have had a quote to replace the windows in my 1960's built house but the salesman said that I would have to change the designs, making the opening windows smaller, which I don't want to do. He said that the sizes of my windows were too big and that I would be told the same by anyone else I went to. Is this right?


Q1. I have recently moved and had a problem with the lock on a door that had been replaced by the previous owners. The Company that fitted it say that it is still under guarantee, but that I must pay 50.00 to have the Guarantee transferred into my name, before they will come and repair it. Can they really do this?

A. Yes, they can. Legally, guarantees are part of the contract between the Company providing the service and the householder at the time. New owners of the property can take over the guarantee, but only within the original Contracts' Terms & Conditions. Often, these will say that the guarantee is transferable, '. upon payment of an administration fee' The fee can be whatever the Company decides, and in this case it seems that they are taking advantage!

Further advice on this subject can be found at Oxfordshire Trading Standards. - Click Here



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Q2. We recently had new windows and doors fitted by XXX Home Improvements. Generally they did a very good job but on one window a lot of the surrounding plaster and wallpaper seems to have come loose and is now very loose and lumpy. They are saying that repairing this does not form part of the work, how do I stand?

A. Check your Contract to be sure, but they are probably correct. Most companies will 'Make Good' to the immediate surround of the replacement window. This means that they will take care to minimise any damage to surrounding plaster and wallpaper and will fill small gaps where plaster comes away, usually fixing an architrave or beading to make a neat finish.

But larger areas of damage such as you have described are usually caused by inherent dampness causing the plaster to separate from the wall and 'float,' or become 'live.' When the area is disturbed by removing the old window, the detached plaster, which may cover a considerable area, starts to break up. It is then only held in place by the covering wallpaper.

This is not uncommon around windows and doors and, if you 'tap' on the surrounding wall, a 'solid' sound indicates that the plaster is in good condition whilst a 'hollow' sound would indicate that the plaster is detached from the wall, or 'live.'

Usually, this sort of major repair work is excluded by the Company in its' Contract Terms & Conditions. This should have been spotted by the Window Surveyor and brought to your attention. Your best way forward now is to get the wall re-plastered by a professional, as it will only get worse and this is not a job to be attempted on a DIY basis.



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Q3. I'm getting quotes at the moment to replace my windows. Two of the Companies have offered me a discount if I let them put up their advertising board, in one case 50 and in the other a lot more. What do you think?

A. This is a very common practise in the Industry, but the discount should reflect the benefit that the Company gains, which will be, if they are lucky, 1 or 2 'phone calls.

However, the Company should want to make sure that your job looks especially well finished if they are intending to put an advertising board up. You should decide whose quote to accept based upon all the important considerations and then, if you are happy to have an advertising board, take the extra discount.



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Q4. What can I do about PVC windows, fitted about 17 years ago, that seem to be going a dull yellow colour?

A. There are now several products available for painting uPVC, including one from 'Dulux,'

http://homeowners.duluxtrade.co.uk/ALLTRADE:1883994681:DFinity.pfEihfdobekegnjel5ejbhjfbpdgomklcadpke

and another from Kolorbond,

http://www.kolorbond.ltd.uk/retro.htm

both Companies will supply only for you to apply, or put you in touch with a recommended contractor.

The cause of fading and discolouration of uPVC products is Ultra Violet Light, present in all direct sunlight and worsening as the ozone layer becomes depleted. This can be exacerbated by environmental pollution such as acid rain and, in exposed coastal areas, by salt in the atmosphere. The UV Light can cause the surface to dull, fade and yellow. Environmental pollution can cause the surface to break down.

In older products this is often due to the inclusion of recycled, reground material in the extrusion. Modern Double Glazing is generally manufactured from 'virgin' materials and advances in technology allow the inclusion of UV Stabilisers in the extrusion. The finish will still tend to 'dull' and 'fade' slightly over the years, as will almost any surface exposed to the elements.

Most suppliers nowadays Guarantee against discolouring but not against minor dulling and fading.



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Q5. I have been told that I should only buy Replacement Windows that are fully reinforced. Is this correct?

A. No. The required reinforcement is dependant upon several factors such as size, wind loading and design. Very large windows, those fitted in high rise buildings and exposed conditions should all be fully reinforced. For smaller windows fitted, say, in suburban London or Birmingham, it is not necessary.

The exceptions are that all windows fitted as part of a conservatory, helping to support the roof, should be fully reinforced. Also, all woodgrain windows, because they absorb much more heat than white ones and therefore need the reinforcing to provide structural stability.



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Q6. What is the difference between welded joints and 'mechanical' joints? Is it important?

A. In a window or door with welded joints the various frame, transom and mullion sections are literally heated to melting point and welded together (small gaps inside the section are left for drainage.) Mechanical joints are screwed together. It is generally accepted that welded joints are far stronger and significantly less likely to break or allow in leaks.

The manufacturing equipment and the process itself is also very much more expensive for welded products. All manufacturers weld the outer frame and vent sections but some then mechanically joint the transoms and mullions. It is especially common for Mid-rails in Doors to be mechanically jointed because of the cost of the special welding equipment needed for this one task.

All other factors being equal, you should go for products with welded joints. Make sure that they are fully welded, i.e., no mechanical joints at all.



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Q7. My windows have little 'covers' or 'cap's' fitted at the bottom, about inch wide. Water drips out of these and leaves a nasty mark. What are these for and is there anything I can do to keep them clean?

A. These are drainage points. Water can and will get into the window frames. This is a combination of rainwater and condensation and has to be allowed to escape, or it will build up inside the frames and can cause problems such as mould growth, rusting of the reinforcing sections, etc.

All you can really do is wash the dirt off with water and a non-abrasive cleaner, such as washing up liquid. Under no circumstances use anything abrasive. Most modern systems have what is called Concealed Drainage, which channels the water through concealed drainage points into, through and then out of the bottom of the cill, thus avoiding unsightly surface mounted drainage caps.

There are some exceptions, such as situations where a new cill is not being fitted because there is an existing stone or tiled cill. In these instances surface mounted drainage points, also known as 'face drainage,' are necessary.



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Q8. What is FENSA ?

A. FENSA stands for the Fenestration Self Assessment Scheme. Fenestration is an Architectural term meaning 'opening,' used with reference to the window & door 'openings' in a building. The word is derived from the French, 'Fenetre,' meaning an opening, particularly a window opening.

FENSA is the new Organisation set up to Supervise Members and the Scheme for those Companies who have been Approved and Registered to Self Certify that the Replacement Window & Door installations that they carry out Comply with the new Building Regulations Document 'L,' covering the Thermal Performance of all new window installations. The Scheme became effective on 1st April 2002.



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Q9. What is the difference between aluminium and steel reinforcing in PVC windows?

A. There is really nothing to choose between the two, both perform well and 'get the job done!'



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Q10. Should I have toughened or laminated glass in my new windows. It is much more expensive but I have been told that it is much safer?

A. Toughened and Laminated glass are both what is known as 'Safety Glass.' It is normally (and indeed it must be) fitted in areas of danger such as doors, and windows close to the floor, where there is a danger of injury from falling against it. Both 'break safely.'

Toughened glass is heated and cooled (tempered) during manufacturing which makes it much harder to break than normal float glass. When it does break, it shatters into very small pieces which cannot cause serious injury. Laminated glass is actually two sheets of glass with a clear film sandwiched in-between. When this is broken it stays in place, still stuck to the inner film.

Your new windows/doors should automatically have Safety Glass where it is legally required by Building Regulations. This will normally be toughened glass, which is cheaper to produce than laminated glass. It is not necessary to fit it elsewhere.

Sometimes laminated glass is used for very large panes because it can be produced in larger sizes than toughened. Laminated glass is sometimes considered to be better purely from a security viewpoint because, although it breaks more easily, it stays in place.

Bear in mind that if laminated glass is put into opening windows, or doors, it is much heavier than toughened glass and will produce much more 'wear and tear' on the hinges.



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Q11. One of the panes in my double glazing has gone misty and has condensation on the glass inside the unit. How has this happened and can it be repaired?

A. It cannot be repaired but must be replaced. If your windows are still under guarantee contact the installation company to come and replace it. If not, your local glass shop will probably be your cheapest and best option for a replacement.

The sealed units used in double glazing are manufactured using two sheets of glass with an inset spacer bar between them. The spacer bar has tiny holes (only on the surface that is facing towards the inside of the sealed unit) and is filled with a desiccant material that absorbs moisture. The spacer bar should first be sealed on both sides against the glass and then the perimeter of the unit is filled and sealed with a liquid butyl or poly-sulphide compound which quickly sets to a rubber like consistency.

You now have a 'hermetically sealed unit,' i.e., the air is trapped inside forming its own 'mini-atmosphere.'

As the outside temperature reduces, water vapour in the air trapped within the unit tries to condense on the cold inner surface of the outer pane of glass. The desiccant, however, is very dry (like desiccated coconut!) and absorbs the condensing moisture before it can condense on the glass. When the temperature goes back up, the desiccant gets warm and expels the moisture back into the sealed atmosphere within the unit. Warm air is capable of holding a greater volume of water vapour.

Problems occur when the units' perimeter seal breaks down. This breaks the sealed atmosphere within and as it warms and cools with changes in the weather, the air expands and contracts slightly, allowing 'new' air in, and then out. This 'new' air brings with it more water vapour and the desiccant becomes saturated leading to condensation within the unit, firstly during cold weather and then permanently.



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Q12. I've had new windows fitted and now, instead of getting rid of it, I've got even more condensation? Help!

A. This can be a very difficult problem to solve. Visit the East Devon Council site, this has excellent advice on how to tackle the problem.

http://www.east-devon.gov.uk/services/departments/h+h/Health%20-%20H%20&%20G/private%20sector%20housing%20service.htm#Keeping%20free%20from%20condensation

The only additional advice that we can really add to the above is that:
  • Double Glazing will not cure Condensation. Anybody who tells you differently is at best ill-informed, at worst lying!
  • Double Glazing can actually make Condensation worse! If fitted in a household that produces lots of water vapour where the old, ill fitting, draughty windows were the main source of ventilation, then condensation is likely to get worse, or even appear for the first time.
  • If the Replacement Windows have been fitted whilst other building works have been taking place, such as building an extension, porch or conservatory, or re-plastering, give the new building works a chance to dry out. Cement, mortar and plaster all have a very high water content when used and this takes time to dry out; much of the evaporated water vapour entering the atmosphere inside the house. Allow 6 to 12 weeks for drying out depending upon the time of year and the extent of the works. You may find that the condensation eventually disappears.

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Q13. My new windows looked great once the fitters had finished, but they didn't put my curtains back up, saying that it was not in the contract? Hardly a finished job!

A. They are probably right; check your paperwork, but most companies' exclude this because of the risk of old pelmets and curtain rails breaking during the process. If they were responsible for this, then they would have to buy and fit replacements for you, hence the exclusion.

However, our experience is that a friendly attitude towards the installers and copious amounts of tea & coffee for them during the installation, plus a winning smile and the rustle of a crisp new 'tenner' usually gets the curtain rails put back up!




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Q14. One of the top openers on some very old double glazing has gone loose. If I open the window, it simply shoots out to its fullest extent and I have to lean out to get it closed. Is there anything I can do to mend this?

A. Yes, there probably is. If you examine the hinge, you should see a small brass screw. This is the tensioning screw and if you tighten it slightly, it should solve the problem. If this does not work, your local glass shop or double glazing repair company (see local paper ads or Yellow Pages) can usually replace the hinge for you.

The opposite is also true; if the opener has become stiff, then loosening the screw slightly will usually free up the opener.

As a general note, you should take the opportunity about once a year to clean around the hinges and apply a little oil, WD40 is best, to these and the locks and handles. This will prolong their life considerably.




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Q15. I have a terrible draught coming through one of my windows, any ideas?

A. Assuming that these are not new windows, almost certainly this is due to one of the following:
  • A loose handle.
  • A slightly bent hinge.
  • A hinge where a screw or rivet has become loose.
If you still have a current Guarantee, call the Company out. If not and you are reasonably 'handy' you may be able to tighten things up yourself. If not, it's your local glass shop or double glazing repair man (or woman!)



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Q16. Can I get a Grant to replace my windows?

A. If you are aged 60 or over, are disabled or infirm or on a low income, or receive benefits, you may be eligible for a Grant or Home Repair Assistance. This will be dependant upon your circumstances and your Local Authority. Contact them for more information.

To contact your local authority go to www.lga.gov.uk and search from there.




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Q17. The double glazed door in our kitchen, which was replaced about 7 or 8 years ago, has become very difficult to lock and sometimes 'catches' on the frame when being shut. The Company that did the work is no longer around, can you give us any advice?

A. This is possibly being caused by a combination of problems and the solutions depend upon the door construction, please read all of the below before attempting to correct the problem:
  • If the door is made of Aluminium then it will be mechanically jointed, i.e., screwed together. Over time the screws can loosen slightly, causing the door leaf to drop slightly on the side opposite the hinges and 'catch' on the bottom of the frame as you close it. You can check this visually by almost shutting the door and looking at the small gap (usually about 5mm) between the door and its frame. If this is the case, open the door enough to get to the locking edge and carefully (do not overdo it - you could crack the glass) 'jack' the door leaf up with a piece of timber, covered in a cloth to protect the edge of the door. At the top and bottom of the door and in the middle if it has a mid-rail, you will find the securing screws. These will be inset and may be covered by screw caps which can be removed. Tighten all of the securing screws - again, don't overdo it or you could strip the threads. Carefully remove the timber 'wedge' and see if the door will now shut without catching, if you have overdone the correction, repeat the process and loosen the screws off very slightly.

  • If the door is uPVC it may be welded or screwed together. If screwed, see above. If welded, then there are 2 possible causes/remedies. Firstly, the sealed units may have moved slightly on their setting blocks, which would put the door leaf out of square. If this is the case the sealed unit spacer bars will not be in line with the surrounding door edges. Unless you are a particularly skilled & confident DIY'er, you need to get this professionally attended to.

  • Alternatively the lock keep, set into the frame, may have loosened and slipped slightly, causing the lock snib to catch and force the door leaf down as you close it. In this case you should be able to re-set the keep. You may need to file the top edge of the keep where the snib or deadlock locates; in the closed position check the locking action - the 'give away' for this would be the top edge/surface of the snib/deadlock showing signs of wear, i.e., shiny.

  • Finally, many doors, especially more modern ones, have adjustable hinges. With the door in the open position, look at the hinges. They may each have an adjustment point, or points, either on the fixed frame side of the hinge, the door side of the hinge, or on both. These will not look like screws, but will be inset and can be adjusted using the correct size of 'Allen Key.' Experiment gently, a turn or two is usually enough!

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Q18. I have had a quote to replace the windows in my 1960's built house but the salesman said that I would have to change the designs, making the opening windows smaller, which I don't want to do. He said that the sizes of my windows were too big and that I would be told the same by anyone else I went to. Is this right?

A. Probably. Modern replacement windows do have some limitations. Because of the sealed unit double glazing, you have twice the weight of glass for the hinges to support and consequently, if you now have very large (maximum sized) single glazed openers, then they will be too big for the same size double glazed.

You may wish to consider 'Tilt & Turn' openings which are available in much larger sizes because of the type of hinge used. However, these are only available opening inwards
.



BBC Watchdog Guides


If things start to go wrong, what should you do? - Click Here

You have had problems, the work is incomplete and you are now in dispute, what next? - Click Here

Poor workmanship and the goods aren't what was ordered, how to proceed. - Click Here


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