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How does seawater affect my new windows in my West Seattle home?

How does seawater affect my new windows in my West Seattle home?
How does seawater affect my new windows in my West Seattle home?
By BettyLoucal Jul 30, 2017


A lot depends on the material you used – or plan to use – on your new windows. There are quite a number of new window materials available on the market today, a lot more than there were a couple of generations ago, and new treatment chemicals can protect your windows further, even in the harshest inclement weather. Still, Mother Nature is a patient and persistent force. Given time, even a gentle sea breeze – filled with the salty vapors of the sea it came from – can eat away at your house, car and almost anything made by us humans.

Talk to your windows installer expert before ordering your new windows

There are simply so many window product variations on the market today, it’s pretty difficult to choose your favorite without the help of an expert by your side. If you’ve ever been to a windows product showroom, you’ve likely seen a manufacturer’s catalog. Some of them are thick enough to use as a car stop on a steep hill, such are the sheer numbers of window types and variations, even from a single manufacturer. Still, many of the variations are relatively small, and there are popular variations that everyone seems to like – and have a track record of successful installation and robust value – and this you can only learn from your windows professional.

Heat insulation provided by your new windows

Towns built on the coast have a tougher time because of the effects of their proximity to seawater. It’s not just water with salt in it, either, as a single tablespoon of seawater contains millions of microbes of thousands of different varieties. The oceans of the world are alive with dense concentrations of Mother Nature’s best attempts at eating whatever they come in contact with. If such water is being lashed against your windows, and those windows are not properly installed, treated and maintained, the airtightness will be compromised. Not in a big way at first, but even small cracks or gaps in the airtightness of a window can let in – or out – air that costs money to either keep cool or keep warm, depending on whether you are talking about air conditioning or your central heating system. Airtight windows safe money, so keeping them in good shape is worth it, especially if you life by the coast.

Water insulation – one of the most important functions of your windows

Above all else, water – in the form of rain, snow, ice, condensation or flooding – can wreak havoc with a house. In the Pacific Northwest, we have a particularly harsh climate for the typical wooden house, so every effort must be made to maximize the watertightness of any window facing the exterior of your home. When water enters a home, especially a wood frame built home, it can eat away at the interior objects of the home, as well as create all manner of mold, wood rot, flooding, and structural damage. When, for example, a small amount of water slips through a slight crack in the waterproofing of a roof skylight, it can go unnoticed for months, even years. A well ventilated attic, for example, might withstand a very small roof window frame leak, preventing any long term damage from occurring, but if that attic is not ventilated, it can retain a moist enclosed space for a long time. One of the first things a roof inspector or a home inspector will do is use one of the oldest pieces of sensor equipment known to man: the nose. A permanently damp attic will be immediately noticeable the moment you stick your head in to take a look. The same goes for basements and crawlspaces. It’s always better to keep these places bone dry. All the wood and other materials will benefit from that, and will last longer, and it all starts with the installation of well chosen windows for the place they are being installed.

Do you want your windows to be good sound insulators?

Faulty window frames are famous for letting in noise pollution. Even the smallest crack or gap can let in a lot of sound. I never worked that out – the physics of it, I mean – but opening a window even a tenth of an inch seems to let in a disproportionate amount of sound!

If you are concerned about the level of sea noise, then consider triple glazed windows. They reduce the sound transfer rate to an incredible level, and can improve privacy as well. Have you ever noticed a subtle ‘green’ hue to some windows? No glass is perfectly transparent, and if you layer several panes of glass together in, say, a hardware store, you can see easily that most glass is actually green. With triple glazed windows, it often becomes obvious, and can actually be added to if a customer needs more than the standard glass tinting.

Many coastal properties are popular strolling, jogging or viewing areas. Many houses have an easement between their house and the water’s edge. While the view can be stunning from the home to the sea, some home owners become perturbed by the lack of privacy in their own home. Just as a person enjoying the water’s edge gazes over the ocean, they can also peer in the other direction, perhaps looking directly into your living room. In fact, homes at the water’s edge, for many a jogger, are just as interesting to look at as the ocean. For those reasons and more, triple glazed windows are excellent at providing privacy, insulating sound and adding real value to a home. They only cost a smidgen more than double-glazed windows, yet may offer a return on investment if you plant to stay in the house a long time.

Wood on the outside, vinyl on the inside?

It seems modern manufacturing techniques can make even the simplest old world product into a modern, high tech solution. Nowhere is it more true than in the windows manufacturing industry. Today, you can buy window frames that are essentially ‘hybrids’ of two technologies working together, thereby exploiting the benefits and strengths of a vinyl window frame and the chic look of a wood frame from an exterior point of view. A sea facing window seems to be to be the perfect place for such a hybrid solution.

See you next week!

Image by Nathan McBride

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