Five Tips for Window Maintenance and Upkeep in Commercial Buildings

With the changing seasons, windows can be a crucial piece to a building in regard to saving energy and providing security and safety. Here’s what to know about replacing windows in commercial and industrial facilities.
By Michael Mastroberti
July 14, 2021

With the changing seasons, windows can be a crucial piece to a building in regards to saving energy and providing security and safety. Here’s what to know about replacing windows in commercial and industrial facilities.

When should a window be replaced?

To diminish some of the confusion, it’s important to have a general idea of the makeup of a window. Knowing how a window works will drastically help contractors understand how to potentially solve future problems, as well as help to keep the window working in pristine condition.

The typical lifespan of a window is 20 to 30 years depending on the quality and use. Some of the first signs of a window experiencing wear and tear are generally from hardware malfunctions, including broken locks, balances, balance shoes, casement cranks or anything that effects the operation of the window.

Another warning sign is when insulated glass starts to show fog or cloudiness between the panes. This means the seal has been broken and moisture is entering between the panes. Lastly, a very obvious tell-tale sign to notice is when the weather stripping becomes worn out, which will allow air to penetrate and increase noise transmission from the exterior to the interior.

When is the best time to get a window replaced?

This question is asked a lot throughout the year and the answer to it is pretty simple: it’s really anytime. Replacement windows can be replaced in any season and the discomfort during installation in mid-winter or mid-summer is temporary and lasts only a few hours at worst. Replacing windows in the spring or fall seasons will add to the overall comfort of the residence or office space when extremes set in, not to mention pay dividends on energy savings in high utility bill months. The winter months are a little tougher because of the shorter days, which results in reduced production on projects.

Can building owners fix condensation without replacing the entire window?

The answer to this is yes. Most modern windows (installed 1980 or later) allow for glass replacement, except some obsolete wood windows. It’s important that the glass size and depth is accurate for the window to continue to perform as designed after the glass is replaced. Contractors might consider replacing the entire window if it’s older than 20 years and showing signs of disrepair as a new glass unit in an old frame may not be worth the investment in the long run.

In weighing the cost of a window repair versus replacing the entire unit; the warranty of a new window should be of consideration, as most manufacturers offer a minimum of five years on the window components, 10 years on glass failure and some lifetime on the frame.

Overall, which is better? A double- or single-hung window?

A double-hung window allows top and bottom sashes to operate and in most cases tilt-in. This allows for easy cleaning and for the top sash to be left open or both top and bottom half-way. The single-hung has a fixed top sash that doesn’t operate or tilt-in but the bottom sash does.

For cleaning purposes, the top glass requires a person to lean out of the bottom sash to clean the exterior but tilt-in the bottom sash for cleaning. So that debate is a matter of preference really.

When it comes to cost, energy efficiency and repair, the single-hung wins hands down. Why? A single-hung has half the moving parts in comparison to a double-hung, so it reduces the repair ratio by 50%. Since no operating window is airtight, the single-hung offers a sealed top glass reducing air-infiltration by 50%.

The single-hung usually offers a fastened meeting rail at the center of the frame thus negating the need for shims most of the time. Finally, because single-hung uses less parts, they tend to run 10% to 20% cheaper than a double-hung.

Any other tips or tricks?

At the end of the day, it all comes down to planning and preparation in replacement windows. Measuring correctly is the most important aspect, as a correctly measured window is easier to install and perform at optimum levels. Mismeasured windows can be made to fit, but it seems to never workout well in the finial analysis, as large gaps allow air and water infiltration and most caulkers don’t use the proper methods when sealing large gaps.

Preparing for the exterior and interior finish when measuring also guarantees a smooth process and long-term performance. Finally, choosing the window that matches the application is equally important. Contractors wouldn’t want to purchase a new construction window at the local supply house to replace a wood pocket window and vice versa.

by Michael Mastroberti
Michael Mastroberti is president of the nationwide, commercial window replacement company, Window City. Mastroberti started the company with his brother 35 years ago with only a work van and a couple tools. They began replacing windows in residential homes and slowly made the switch to multifamily window installation and other commercial-sized projects in 1991. The business has grown from two people working out of their van to over 40 employees working in different locations across the country.

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