In the old days, a window was a hole in the wall with glass fitted into it. The glass was held in place essentially by putty and specialized thumbtacks.
That putty and tacks worked well enough when they were all humanity had thought of, and they continued to meet at least rote approval when home climate control became commonplace after World War II. If your home was losing too much warmth through its windows, you turned up the heater; if it was allowing too much warmth in through those same windows, you turned up the air conditioner.
Then, in the 1970s, wars and rumors of wars saw nation rising yet again against fellow nation, which resulted in oil shortages—and oil price excesses. The nascent Department of Energy began researching alternative ways for Americans to feel comfortable in their homes while using fewer resources. They found that “…the materials existed, the patents were out there, but the pieces weren’t put together…”. Soon, they put those pieces together and created the window-glass-replacement industry.
You see, before the innovations that came to us in the 1970s, window glass replacement was a generic process that any competent homeowner, or else a general carpentry company, could pull off in an hour or two for, say, $25. The hitch was that standard glass emits 84% of the heat that reaches it. That is, it’s terribly inefficient.
And then, low-emissivity coating was invented. “Low-e” coating, as it’s called, is a clear coating that goes on the window, either while it’s still molten or after it has hardened into glass. Some low-e coatings have one ten-thousandth the thickness of a human hair. Whatever the thickness, a low-e coating’s purpose is to reduce the energy that’s emitted—inward and outward—by the window.
As a result, an entire window-glass-replacement industry was born and began to develop. Whereas anyone can stick a plate of glass in a hole if they measure carefully enough, you need very specialized industrial equipment and know-how to create a low-e window, and the energy savings are more-than large enough to justify the upfront cost.
The reason for including this brief history lesson is to explain some of what lies behind the costs and complexities associated with modern window glass replacement. It wouldn’t be unreasonable for the uninitiated homeowner to feel momentarily frustrated by the process of navigating through window glass manufacturers, contractors and the like—but hopefully, with a bit of understanding about where all this comes from, one understands the purpose, which is durability, comfort and energy savings.
Who to Trust with Your Window Glass Replacement?
When you find yourself in the market for a somewhat technical item or service like expert window glass replacement, it’s usually beneficial to enlist the help of an independent contractor. If you go straight to a manufacturer, you’ll be more or less at their mercy. That is, they obviously believe in their product and they inevitably have the sales team to make you a believer as well. But a savvy contractor can act as a homeowner’s advocate, translating technical information into understandable language and helping to differentiate between hard information and sales hype.
Not only that; many contractors have connections to multiple window glass manufacturers and thus can act as window glass brokers (pun unintended, but gleefully allowed). This can dramatically simplify the shopping-around process, as well as reducing the time spent on that stage of your project.
Rocky Mountain Exteriors, for example, sources the majority of their windows from two manufacturers. Since both manufacturers are perfectly versatile and capable outfits, this arrangement affords the dual benefit of ensuring quality through healthy competition without overwhelming anybody with too many options.
More Reasons to Hire a Contractor
Another benefit of using a contractor for a job like window glass replacement is that you find yourself with two separate companies working to ensure your satisfaction as a customer. That is, two separate warranties from two separate companies that already know how to communicate with each other to remedy any problem that may arise.
Did you know that 95% of window warranty issues arise because the windows were installed incorrectly? At Rocky Mountain Exteriors, we also handle siding, painting, and full-on construction—so window glass replacement is always performed by a well-rounded expert with product knowledge and special sensitivity to wall conditions, climate, and all other factors that influence the success of a job like this.
But things happen; a good professional knows better than to merely promise competence. So we back up our expertise with our own 3-year warranty on labor. So in the incredibly rare event that a problem arises from our labor, we will be right back out there to take care of it.
Boil it Down: What You Need to Know about Window Glass Replacement
Window glass replacement is more expensive and time-consuming than it used to be, but that’s because modern windows are incredibly energy-efficient compared to those of yesteryear. Simply put, an energy-efficient window doesn’t occur naturally; it takes resources to create.
Manufacturers are proud of their energy-efficient (not to mention durable) windows and, most often, rightfully so. If you approach a window glass company and ask if what they do is perfect for you, they’ll say yes. That’s the first reason it’s so very helpful to hire a good contractor to be your go-between and advocate when dealing with window glass replacement.
It also puts more people—and their respective warranties—in your corner. If the materials are right but were installed wrong, the contractor’s warranty will almost always cover it. If something is wrong with the materials, the contractor can approach the manufacturer with a warranty claim so you don’t have to.
Window glass replacement isn’t a process most homeowners love. But if you find yourself needing it done well and soon, a reputable contractor should usually be your first stop. Click here to request a free estimate.