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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
A GREAT friend of mine who is a Manufacturer's rep for Marvin Infinity windows, has a "situation" with one of his dealers customers. Rather than me explain it in detail, I'll just copy you in on his email to me....

John, I need a small favor from you. I’m wondering if you can post a question, based on a scenario that I am having, on contractor talk. I need some good feedback from some experienced HVAC guys.

Here is the scenario: I have a homeowner near Flint, MI who had Infinity windows installed in 2010. It was a full frame tear out and replacement. The old windows were steel framed units from the 1950’s.

My local dealer did an excellent job with adequate insulation and caulking where necessary. The homeowner insists that her home has felt colder ever since, with this winter being exceptionally bad. She says that she feels drafts across her face when sleeping at night and most of the rooms are generally colder. She is using the same CF (relative to other comparable years) of gas with the new windows.

Here is what I can tell you about the house. It is a one story ranch with a full basement. It has baseboard boiler heat with no cold air returns. The boiler is in the basement along with an original fireplace which they use almost daily during the winter. The prior homeowners had attic and wall insulation blown in.


Now, my guess on this (but bow to your more experience and expertise), is with the unprecedented weather we had this winter, and even with new high performance windows, the inside glass was colder than the previous windows probably ever got. Thus cooling down the air right inside the window quite a bit.

Then with the extremely warm hot water heat right under the window, it created some pretty large temperature differences right around the window glass, resulting in some pretty hefty, artificial drafts.

Kind of like what happens to the shower curtain ten minutes into a really hot shower and then someone opens the bathroom door. Cooler air from outside the bathroom comes rushing in and it "blows" the shower curtain in around you in the hot shower.

I'm going to link him into this thread so he can see your replies.

Thanks in advance! :thumbsup:
 

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Capra Aegagrus
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I'm not a HVAC guy, but I've installed my share of windows. One thing that comes up pretty consistently is that unless the old windows were really, really horrible, the perceived change in comfort level is significantly less than the homeowner's expectations.

That price/performance disappointment, combined with a harsh winter, can well lead to questioning and complaints.
 

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Sean
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I would have to ask what the SHGC is as she may not be getting the "feel" & warmth from the sun coming in like she used to

The draft feeling can be coming from actual drafts or what is actually more common is the heat leaving ones body & creating convective currents as the glass is cool.

The next item is what else might have changed in the house.

The final thought is that with this being a super cold winter, she should be using more gas & not less - so part of it maybe that the unit is essentially short cycling & not allowing everything to heat up before it shuts down? Of course I got to ask what adequate insulation & caulking means.

Best bet, get an energy guy out there to check out where the leaks are coming with a blower door & scan the areas around the windows, elsewhere with infrared.

Interesting little calculator on just what thermal comfort means http://www.healthyheating.com/solutions.htm#.UzbUt9FOXDf
 

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Id get an energy dude in there to smoke test for major leaks. That would calm any concerns about major holes in the building, or show some nobody has considered.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I'm not a HVAC guy, but I've installed my share of windows. One thing that comes up pretty consistently is that unless the old windows were really, really horrible, the perceived change in comfort level is significantly less than the homeowner's expectations.

That price/performance disappointment, combined with a harsh winter, can well lead to questioning and complaints.
I'm guessing they were pretty bad Tin.... because they were single pane steel windows from the 1950's.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
" Artificial convective currents" .... THAT's the term I was looking for. :clap:

Good catch on the SHGC Sean. I didn't even think about that. With today's glass packages so much more energy efficient, the solar heat gain that people were used to from their old single pane windows, is generally reduced significantly. And, with a really cold winter like we've had this year, the difference would be huge. :blink:
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
an original fireplace which they use almost daily during the winter.
Another thought just popped in my head as well. If they are using a wood burning fireplace daily, this could be sucking all of the heat they pay for, right up the chimney. And, if they burn late into the evening and the damper is left open.... it could create a wind tunnel inside the house at night when the temperatures get really cold. Which could very well be the cold air drafts she feels at night.
 

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Capra Aegagrus
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I'm guessing they were pretty bad Tin.... because they were single pane steel windows from the 1950's.
That's precisely the scenario in one case I experienced. The existing windows were single pane steel, but well maintained and not leaky. I can't vouch for the exact percentage of change the new windows made; just that it was considerably less than the HO's expectations.
 

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One thing that comes up pretty consistently is that unless the old windows were really, really horrible, the perceived change in comfort level is significantly less than the homeowner's expectations.
Bingo!
I've heard HO's say numerous times upon completion of window replacement, "I can't wait to see how much we save on or heating/cooling costs!"

I think to myself, You still have 2x4 walls with 1960's r-8 insulation...or...
you still have a hollow core door between your garage and house..or you still have an unfinished basement with no wall or floor insulation....or, ect ect ect.

New windows in an old house are sometimes the strongest link in a very weak chain.
 

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Box Builder
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I'd have to agree with everything that has been mentioned. Lower SHGC on the new windows. fireplace usage, which is a loss overall, unless they really crank it and turn the boiler down to 50. colder than normal winter. Only way to prove they are better is to blower door with smoke test or IR camera. Should have done a comparison of old to new windows, but it is too late.
 

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Probably caused by the fireplace having to pull air from other sources then the windows now.

Plus, with the new window being sealed better. The boiler may be off for longer times so she is noticing the air currents more, because the baseboard is not warm/hot as often as it use to be.

Next, check to see if the receps and wall switches near the windows are pulling more air in. Installing the new windows may have caused more air to come in through them. The wall plates may not be sealed as well now that the wall has been disturbed.

This is where a data logger comes in handy.
 

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Common issues with "cold drafts" for baseboard heat (no other changes to the building):

-change in window treatments. Window treatments can either channel a lot of heat between the treatment and window, or on the room side of the treatment. Room side of the treatment is the correct answer.

- change in furniture location. Beds and couches located close to a baseboard heater keep effective circulation currents from being set up. The heat gets trapped in a small area, and heat transfer to the room is inefficient. "cold draft" is a very common complaint in these cases.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Probably caused by the fireplace having to pull air from other sources then the windows now.

Plus, with the new window being sealed better. The boiler may be off for longer times so she is noticing the air currents more, because the baseboard is not warm/hot as often as it use to be.

Next, check to see if the receps and wall switches near the windows are pulling more air in. Installing the new windows may have caused more air to come in through them. The wall plates may not be sealed as well now that the wall has been disturbed.

This is where a data logger comes in handy.
Yeah, as soon as I re-read Bob's email after posting it, I immediately thought about the fireplace. Even with glass doors, those things can really wreck havoc on the air balance in a home. I know it's "pretty" and all.... watching a natural fire burning, but most folks just don't realize what kinds of problems they can cause with air balance. Especially, when the outside temperature is as cold as this winter was.

I'm curious about what this "data logger" is. I've never seen that term before. Even when I sold residential HVAC several years ago. Gonna have to check big G I guess.

Thanks for the help. :thumbsup:
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
If her gas consumption is the same as last year it sounds like she has a considerable savings from her windows.
For sure. But according to her, at least the way Bob described it, her gas usage stayed the same in the years since the windows were replaced (2010). Now, while I rather doubt that, it's all the info I have to go on right now. I think the bigger concern (again, going only on the information that I have right now) are the drafts.

Thanks though....
 

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I'm guessing the problem is the person got a wicked sales pitch about the boat loads of money she was going to save.
 

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If some rooms seem cold, the baseboard hot water units need to be rebalanced, period. This is easy to check. I use a thermal imager, but any non contact thermometer can be used to check wall temperatures. If the walls are relatively cold, the room will feel cold.

All baseboard hot water units set up circulation currents on a room. Cool air coming off of walls and windows travel down the wall , across the floor, and over to the heater, where the air gets heated and hopefully travels up the wall and across the ceiling. These are pretty easy to see using an incense stick to check air flow directions at locations around the room.

About the only window install issue I've seen is when something like spray foam separation and caulk separation allows a little leakage. The caulk separation is easy to see. I'm assuming these were caulked in place and the inside trim was also caulked, so I don't consider a problem here likely.

Ironically, I did one of these complaints about 10 days ago. The answer was rebalance your system and move your furniture.
 

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Have they gotten new carpeting? Sometimes I find clients with poor heat because the rug is to thick under the baseboard radiators to circulate.
 
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