Should I install vinyl windows in cold weather?

 

During the fall many homeowners fanatically get their windows installed in the fall in order to prepare for the cold winter months.   Many people are of the mind that windows should not be installed in the middle of the cold weather months. Here is a list of questions that people might have along with answers:

  1. If I install the windows in the winter, will the windows expand during the summer months causing difficult to operate windows? No,  vinyl does have a coefficient of expansion (COF) of 0.000036 in/in/0F (here’s the specification sheet).  This is a pretty small number.  Basically it means that thermal expansion is an issue for vinyl siding because the vinyl is 8 feet or longer. Since windows are much smaller, the thermal expansion is not an issue.  As a matter of fact, good manufactures will build tolerance into the window by making the glass 1/8 inch smaller than the space in which the glass is placed. This will give an insurance policy against breakage.  Companies that know the craft of manufacturing have this knowledge and produce a window that can be installed in any weather–hot or cold.
  2. Will the caulk freeze or not set up? No,  if the installer uses silicone caulk or paint grade latex caulk this is not an issue.  These types of caulk are air cured, not temperature cured.
  3. Will my house get cold during the installation? Well kinda sorta.  This is all in the technique of the installer.  Good installers treat your home with respect and are respectful of the homeowners. They realize that they are a guest in your home and know not to leave the front door wide open. They get the old window out of the opening as quickly as possible in order not to disrupt the home’s temperature.  A good installer will prep the window for removal, and the window opening will only be “open” for a few minutes.   It’s an art–and a science that good installers have down pat.
  4. Related to question one, will the window be as air-tight as a result of a winter installation? Yes,  vinyl windows have a product called “fin-seal”.  This seal creates three pliable barriers integrated into a self-supporting air barrier, providing  the ultimate air seal. This system creates a lot of room for expansion and contraction, making the installation temperature independent.  You will not find this technology on most wood windows.

Fin seal air barrier

Fin seal is the ultimate air and water barrier

The final reason you should not delay your window installation is to save on the ever increasing cost of energy.  If you wait until spring to replace your windows, you will pay money to the utility companies that you would have otherwise saved.  Why wait, you will also “feel” warmer.  That is another reason to get those drafty old windows replaced.

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