Fog to clear – a new window to the world

By Ande Jacobson

Almost a quarter century ago, I made the decision to upgrade our townhouse. I ditched the old, mid-1970s windows and upgraded to double panes that were supposed to be a vast improvement. After all the contracts were signed, it took the installers about six weeks to complete the job (far too long in my opinion). Beyond the attractive aesthetic improvement, these new windows were supposed to provide insulation from unwanted sounds and help with heating and cooling. The claims were true to an extent. They muffled some of the outside sounds, and they also helped the furnace and air conditioning function more efficiently, although they didn’t obviate the need for either heating or cooling overall. The new windows were clean and felt a lot more substantial than the old single pane windows they replaced.

Over the years, two of the windows in the warmest room in the house eventually failed. These particular windows faced south and daily endured hours upon hours of sun beating down on them and heating them up. After a couple of decades the spacers between the panes along the bottom cracked, and the windows fogged up. Out of all of the windows in the house only these two failed, but I hadn’t realized the difference that foggy view made on my overall outlook.

Fortunately, these windows had a lifetime manufacturer warranty, so the only real obstacle was scheduling rather than cost to rectify the situation. Over a year-and-a-half since the beginning of our first pandemic lockdown, I finally decided to start the process and contacted the manufacturer. It took two visits, one to assess the problem, and a second about four weeks later to do the replacement work.

When the technician arrived with the replacement glass, he setup to pull out the old windows and immediately ran into a problem. It’s normally a fairly simple exercise to pull off the inside framing and pull out the old glass. They use a suction gripper to pull the sealed panes from the frame, but the fogged windows were really stuck. Apparently, the bottom spacers were not the only things that melted or cracked. There was a rubberized edge on the sides of each window that had melted into the window frame firmly adhering the glass in place. It seemed like he was going to have to break the window to get it out, and he did unintentionally crack the inner glass on one of them. After far more effort than should have been needed scraping, jiggling, prying, and pulling to no avail, the tech enlisted my help from the inside to hold the gripper as he climbed around and pushed from the outside to loosen the frame’s grip. After some tense moments wondering if the glass was ever going to give way, the tech was eventually able to get the old windows out and replace them with new, clean double panes.

It had been dusk when he arrived and was quite dark when he departed. Despite placing a drop cloth by the windows, the tech left a fair amount of debris in his wake though it was nothing a little vacuuming and Pine Sol couldn’t address. The next day my view out into the world changed. It got brighter. The sky seemed bluer. The trees were greener. The breezes grew livelier. As I now gaze out the window, I wonder what stories the people driving, riding, running, and walking by might tell as they go about their adventures.

Throughout the pandemic, I’ve mostly retreated from the outside world, only leaving the house for required things that couldn’t be accomplished from within or via delivery. I’ve watched traffic diminish to almost nothing and more recently swell to close to pre-pandemic levels when I exercise my vehicles to keep them functional. I’ve watched the foot and car traffic in front of my development ebb and flow as well, although for the bulk of the pandemic, outside activity viewed from home was blurred due to the foggy windows. Seeing the difference, I realize I should have contacted the window manufacturer years ago to rectify this situation and will do so much more quickly should this happen again at some point. For now though, I’ll enjoy the bright, clear view.

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