Monday, February 23, 2009

Suggestions for Servicing our Ornery Pella Casement Windows

In a January post entitled, Frost, Frost Go Away, I wrote (O.K., whined) about problems with our Pella Windows.

To briefly recap, we are the third owners of a 13-year-old home and over half of our 17 Pella casement windows will not crank closed without someone pushing from the outside. Of those, some won't even close all the way with help. That makes for cold winters, hot summers, and naturally, higher energy bills.

As a result of my January post, a Pella Correspondence Specialist contacted us with a desire to help. He arranged for a representative to come out and look at the windows, which took place this morning.

The serviceman looked them all over and speculated that problems arose because they were not installed correctly.

In a nutshell, he said our windows were probably "sagging".

The theory is this: If the windows are not properly shimmed during installation, they can sag over time at the verticals. This then leaves the bottom middle slightly raised, or bowed up and can create problems where the sash hits the frame. The sash is the movable part of the window, by the way.

Our sun room windows are wide and span 4 feet, and if that is how they were installed, we could see how there could be some sagging. Still, what he said he could see right away, was not obvious to us.

Whether or not the issues with the rest of our windows (which are much smaller) can be blamed on sagging (due to installation) was (in our minds) a harder sell. However, we're not the experts, and he may well have hit the nail on the head.

We are appreciative that Pella offered us even this much help.

The service man left us with two suggestions to try:

1. Shim the window at the hinge. He pointed out that there is a tiny amount of play in each window vertically. In other words, if you are standing outside with the window open and you lift straight up on the sash, the sash can be raised a tiny fraction of an inch. He suggested that placing a cedar shim under the hinge joint (my own technical translation of the place he pointed to) was worth a try.

2. If that doesn't work, move the hinges. He suggested moving where the hinges are screwed to the sash an eighth of an inch down (in the awning style) or over (in a casement style) to see if it corrects the problem.

Either of these two "fixes" might enable the crank to do it's job, or they might simply create a new binding place at the top of the window. But, they are relatively simple to do (with two people) and worth a try.

We'll give it a shot with the smaller windows. If it doesn't work, we'll simply live with the hassle of needing two people to close them if we should choose to open them.

For the larger awning style windows (which we presently can't even close with two people), my husband will enlist the help of a friend to try to move the hinges on one.
If that doesn't work, there is one more thing we could try...if money, time and hassle are no issue. (Right.)

We would need to remove all the trim--inside and out, cut or pull the nails, and attempt to pry up the window and place shims at the corners. He recommended shooting a few nails down through the middle to keep the center of the frame down while prying up on the corners.

This is a job that would take a couple of carpenters (which we are not) a bundle of time... And even then, there is no guarantee that it would solve the problems.

Yikes! That's a lot of work and money to spend on a gamble!

I'm afraid if that last suggestion doesn't get the windows working, we will be using a pry bar to see if we can force them closed once and for all.

Then, alas, I'll give my husband permission to screw and caulk them them closed for the final time.

8 comments:

mominatr said...

I have the same problem on 2 of my side-by-side crank out windows. I have heard that this is a problem common to the Pella windows. I had also heard that this is the answer that Pella gives for the problems. Funny thing is we used a Pella recommended contractor to have these windows installed. And, I find it hard to believe that it is happening on only 1 side of 2 side-by-side windows. I just will have to do without opening them. I can tell you I regret buying the windows from Pella.

Unknown said...

We have also experienced sagging in some of our Pella casement windows that are 13 years old. The metal bar on top is not as ridget as it should and as a result cannot hold the window weight up particularly the weight of large windows. this is a design issue not an installation issue as the Pella service reps want you to believe. It's rather unfortunate that the design does not provide a means by which you can make a simple adjustment to correct this issue. We Will not buy Pella windows ever again.

Unknown said...

We have also experienced sagging in some of our Pella casement windows that are 13 years old. The metal bar on top is not as ridget as it should and as a result cannot hold the window weight up particularly the weight of large windows. this is a design issue not an installation issue as the Pella service reps want you to believe. It's rather unfortunate that the design does not provide a means by which you can make a simple adjustment to correct this issue. We Will not buy Pella windows ever again.

john said...

Have had the same problem, but there is a relatively simple fix as outlined in pella literature that we received from repairman with our windows. If the sash rubs on the top, move top pivot away from hinge side by 1/16 to 1/8 inch depending on problem. I had to move mine twice to get to work. If sash rubs on bottom move top pivot toward the hing. Hope that this helps.

Kelly Kohlstrand said...

John, can you clarify--I have the same issue and resorted to beating the lower part of the frame to create clearance (not a great fix). What do you mean by top pivot?
.
If sash rubs on bottom move top pivot toward the hing. Hope that this helps.

callaspadeaspade said...

Pella windows conducted their business as a franchise here in Ontario. In those days, you could talk to someone with an expectation that they cared and listened. The Architects and designers recommended these windows and even though expensive, people bought them because it was a status symbol.
Now, Pella runs the business corporately in Ontario and they don't give a hoot to service or courtesy. Any fault with a window is not their fault but the installer.
Bottom line is, stay away from Pella's expensive but less than worth windows. Buy European made windows and you get some longevity.

What is the use of a window that does not want to close when opened and the tenants do not want to pay rent because the windows leak. And , Pella does not give a rats arse except to sell you more of their crap.

Michael Anderson said...

I own a house full of Pella casement and fixed windows. All of the casement windows had to be replaced because the wood under the aluminum cladding rotted due to inadequate sealing at the Pella factory. Pella gave me a pennies on the dollar discount on the new sashes, which I had to stain and seal, and charged full price for the install. Pella has been sued over the seal failure issue--they lost. Bottom line: anyone who buys anything made by Pella is making a huge mistake.

Bob Lesher said...

I have had 3 houses with Pella windows The ones built in the 70 s were OK but before and after are junk.I have built nAnew house with Pella and never again One was leaking and Pella would not do anything about it All I can do is tell everyone I know not to buy Pella