How To Spot Seal Failure

Single pane windows were normal for hundreds of years.  Now, it is rare to find a window that is not sealed.  Double- and triple-pane windows are composed of two or three panes of glass within an air-tight frame; in other words, they are sealed.  When this seal fails, they are less effective as weather barriers. But how do you know that the seal has failed? 

Crystal Clear View Glass wants you to know we are here for you whatever your residential glass solutions needs are. We want to provide you with all the information you need to assess the condition of your windows accurately, and determine what is needed in your situation. We are willing to inspect and give you an honest analysis of what next steps you should take. Don't hesitate to reach out if you feel you may need further guidance while looking at your window seals.

When Seal Failure Is An Option

Windows are subjected to the same brutal elements as are roofing and siding.  Yet roofing and siding are hardy materials; windows are delicately constructed devices with moving parts.  The element that forms the core of windows is the Insulated Glass Unit, or IGU. Failure may not be uncommon, especially with older windows or homes where climates and weather can be harsh and elements such as rain or dust storms may degrade the seals of a window over time.

While failure is not intentionally built into IGUs, it is not unexpected.  This is the secret that window manufacturers do not include in their sales literature. If you are experiencing window failure, do not be discouraged or frustrated. This is not an uncommon problem, and it can be fixed by a trusted professional with minimal trouble. 

It is not uncommon for a house to have at least one window with a failed seal.  The cause can either be an immediate, outright failure of the seal or a slow, expected leakage over time. Even if your windows or home are relatively new, you may want to keep on the lookout for possible signs of seal failure especially after events like extreme storms (common in Arizona during the summer).

Even in climates that are not considered extreme, it is common to find double-pane, sealed IGUs. The reason they are sealed so tightly is because they have an air vacuum between the panes.  Sometimes this air vacuum is replaced with a low conductivity inert gas like argon or krypton. If you currently have single pane windows on your home, and you are an Arizona resident, you may want to consider upgrading to dual pane windows, especially if you are already experiencing window failure. Taking a precaution like this can prevent future costly damage that will require you to make repairs to your home besides just your windows in the event of a sudden seal failure.

Dual pane windows can also increase your home's insulating capabilities, regulating temperatures inside the home during all kinds of weather. It is this very combination of two and even three sheets of glass and the gas within which keep the cold away.

Seal Failure Detection Tips

  • Clean Them First:  Since your test is all visual, you need to provide yourself with a blank slate.  Thoroughly clean both the inside and the outside of the window so you are certain that you are not looking at external moisture.
  • Moisture Within the IGU:  Fogging, hazing, or moisture between the two panes of glass mean that a window seal has failed. While a window can certainly fail and not have any moisture between the two panes, it is more common to see moisture between the two panes.
  • Glass Distortion:  This test is easier to see with larger sheets of glass.  PPG notes that as the krypton or argon gas leaks out, "air doesn’t backfill into the IGU [and] the two lights of glass begin to collapse into the center of the unit, which can cause the glass to look distorted or even break."  By standing at a distance outside and looking at the reflection, you can see if the glass is more distorted than windows that are not affected.
  • Save Those Warranties:  If you are in the habit of tossing out warranties, this is one product where you want to keep this information.  Premature window seal failure is clearly a product failure, not a function of poor installation.

One certain way not to detect a failed window seal is by putting your hand on the glass.  Unless it is viciously cold--far below freezing--it is doubtful that the "feel test" will work.

If you notice any of these things, call Crystal Clear View Glass at 602-224-7900 for a free in - home consultation. We come out and look at the window and let you know how it can be fixed. We are always here for you, welcome to the Crystal Clear View Glass family!

Whether working with businesses or individuals, everyone at Crystal Clear View Glass puts people first. It starts with Brandon, who hires self-directed professionals and empowers them to make a difference in every interaction. That culture is pervasive, from the team member who answers your call to the installer who expertly completes your glass project.