In order to shed some light as to why it is important to obtain a free home energy inspection, we contacted the National Association of Home Inspectors, Inc. We spoke to Mallory Anderson, Executive Director, who provided us with abundant information regarding the inspection of windows. Her organization, in turn, relies on abundant information provided by others who have researched this topic. Today we are of the opinion that in many cases, it would be wise for those homeowners who are unsure of the status of any portion of their home, but particularly their windows, to arrange for an inspection.
We ran into numerous cases where a home inspection played a formidable role in unearthing circumstances that either required immediate attention or stood as an impediment to the sale of a home. In each of the previous case histories, this was apparent. We also ran into numerous cases where issues which were discovered by the home inspector turned into situations requiring contingency clauses in a purchasing contract or outright deal-killers.
The issue of fogging in a dual pane window came up frequently. This fogging indicates that the thermopane window has lost its seal, thus impairing its energy efficiency. Looking again at the third case history: Even when the inspector’s report indicated that only several windows had the “fogging” condition, the potential buyer (or their advisor) felt that this indicated that the balance of the windows in the house might soon fail, thus requiring expenditures of several thousand dollars in repairs.
It is even more confounding that in many cases, homeowners are not aware that fogging represents a deficiency. In their defense, the concept is not easy to wrap your head around.
Ask yourself this question: “If you live in a home featuring thermopane glazing (i.e. two panes of glass separated by dead air space) which require ‘spacers’ that hold the glass panes apart and special seals which prevent leakage into the dead air space – why would you be experiencing fogging?” The answer is: The quality of the spacers and the sealants connecting the spacers to the windows most frequently determine whether there will be a premature failure in the “seal”. This is clearly not an answer that the average person would expect.
Even the presence or lack of glass coatings (Low-E) can be detected and cast doubt on the buy-sell transaction.
Other issues raised by home inspectors related to the hardware of the window. If you have casement windows that crank in and out, there can often be a failure in the gear mechanism or the small crank. These quality impairments, when detected by a home inspector, often lead to deal-breaking or renegotiating.
Since the end of World War II, there have been over 1 million new homes built annually. As our economy grew and the desire for larger and more spacious homes increased we developed houses with a greater quantity of larger windows. As a natural consequence, more square feet of glass was developed, leading to increased vulnerability. Modern technology has produced a higher quality window with many glass options, but that does not mean the person who was responsible for having your original windows installed understood or took advantage of all these options.