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Can you replace my windows even in sub-zero temps in a cold West Seattle January?

Can you replace my windows even in sub-zero temps in a cold West Seattle January?
Can you replace my windows even in sub-zero temps in a cold West Seattle January?
By BettyLoucal Jun 21, 2017


The short answer is, windows can be replaced in almost any conceivable weather condition. Apart from an actual full scale wind storm, where the wind is blowing sideways, especially with a lot of precipitation, windows installation workers can effectively and safely install windows in a variety of weather types. And there are in fact some advantages to installing your windows in the dead cold of winter: you’ll know immediately if there are any issues with the insulation! In reality, though, any time of the year works, and professional window installers know how to ensure there are no leaks, no matter what time of the year it is.

How is a new window installed in the middle of January?

In this respect, the big difference between, say, a window and a roof installation is, a window is vertical and a roof is horizontal. This means, assuming the rain is falling more or less vertical, you can keep dry and comfortable, even when it’s rain right through the installation project.

A windows team is going to recommend that you vacate the room the are working on, especially if the work is being done in inclement weather. The reason is two-fold. The first reason is for safety. You don’t want one of your kids to surprise your windows installers, and end up getting the new window dropped on them by accident. Pets, too, are good to keep away from the installers. A dog might get upset with the strangers in the house and a cat might run away or get injured somehow. You know what they say about cat and curiosity. The door(s) to the rest of the house will be closed, and the installers can work without fear of someone off-team being injured or lost.

Warm clothes are worn, and if the open window ‘hole’ is exposed for any length of time, it will be covered with waterproof sheeting of some type to keep the rain or snow out.

A little uncertainty has to be built into the project

Although a basic inspection of the area in and around the old window is always done, you can’t be absolutely certain that you won’t find a problem until the old window is completely removed. In the vast majority of cases, a windows installer will know how to predict issues before any real work is done, but there are cases where it is simply no possible to see until that old window is removed. So what happens if, in the middle of a freezing day in January, the old window is removed and wood rot is discovered? Clearly, it has to be repaired before the new window can be installed, because it is a problem that would cost a lot more later if it’s not dealt with first. In any case, no window installer worth his or her salt will want to skip that critical repair before proceeding. So, that means – assuming the wood rot is extensive enough – a general contractor team or carpenter will have to be called in to get that done first.

What happens while this is in progress? Well, there is both a security issue and a house insulation issue. You don’t want to leave a gaping and obvious hole in your house there for very long, as it would invite burglars as well and Mother Nature. It would be covered tightly with insulating material while not attended, and at the same time, urgent attention to getting that repair team in place and working would be a top priority. In many cases, actually, the windows team themselves will be the first go-to people for fixing the wood rot issue, so there may not even be any additional days of work to be done.

Get a good inspection done before any work begins

Most windows and doors installation providers offer an inspection. If it’s not free-of-charge, they are likely to discount any such charge from your offer, should you go with them for the window replacement project you are planning. What’s more, it’s very definitely in their interests to find any problems before the inspection is finished. Anything they don’t find is likely to interfere with the smooth execution of their project as well as surprises and upset to their would-be customer. This is not a house inspection, but simply a window and window surround inspection. A general house inspector might stumble upon a window issue, but they are less likely to than a windows installer would. That’s because they have your entire house to inspect, and only a few hours to complete that job. If there is an issue with something that is clearly hidden from view, it might be missed.

Be prepared to keep out of the way while the windows are being replaced

A window being replaced in the spare room is one thing, but if you are replacing windows in your kitchen, dining room or other adjacent living area, you might consider staying out of the house while the project is in progress. Perhaps you can schedule the project while your kids are at school or your whole family is away. It makes it easier for everyone, and the windows installers need not worry about little feet getting in the way or coming into danger.

Winter offers a real test of the newly installed windows

Once the windows are installed, the cold weather of winter will give you an immediate opportunity to see if there are any air leaks. The windows themselves should, of course, shut tight, letting in neither air nor water, but there’s another great test that measures the effectiveness of good windows, and that is sound insulation. If your old windows were leaking in any way – and they probably were after decades of use – one of the first things you will notice is the new quietness in your home when the windows are fully installed. In one house I lived in, we had reason to install actual triple-glazed windows. I did not expect what I first experienced when I came home that evening, right after the job was completed: the inside of my house was dead quiet. I could hear my own heart beat.

So, don’t forget sound insulation and consider that big benefit if your house faces or backs onto a busy street. There’s nothing better than a good night’s sleep.

More next week!

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