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Foggy Window Repair

(**Please note:  The most common situations where we cannot de-fog the glass are: Tempered glass, such as in doors or windows over bath tubs, or windows that have had the fog in between the glass for an extended period of time.  Please refer to the last paragraph.***)
 
Every year, hundreds of thousands of windows in the US lose their integrity due to seal failure. Leading the way in complete window care, Diamond Window Cleaners offers moisture removal for failed insulated glass units (IGU). Our process involves the installation of patent-pending Micro-vent technology that permanently eliminates moisture while restoring the window's clarity and insulation qualities. Our technicians perform a window restoration and defogging technique that is environmentally friendly and safe, employing specialized tools, and unique venting technology to remove fog and moisture from failed IGU's.

Why should you have your fogged windows fixed?

  1. For starters, they look unappealing. Some even to the point of a nearly totally obstructed view due to the moisture clinging to the glass surface within the air space. If the IGU is in this bad of condition, it may actually need to be replaced.
  2. Your heating and cooling dollars are literally going right out the window. Moist air is a thermal conductor, dry air is an insulator. It's that simple. Therefore, if you have moisture between the glass of your insulated glass unit (IGU) your heating and cooling dollars are being transmitted right through the window.
  3. If you are trying to sell your home, do you really think anyone would consider buying it knowing the windows are failing? In essence, foggy windows will reduce your home's resale value.
  4. Our de-fogging process is half the cost or less compared to replacement. (However, if necessary, we are qualified to replace your glass as well and can give you an on-the-spot quote for this service.)

First Some Basic Terms

Before we can understand how or why windows fail, we must first understand some nomenclature. A thermo-pane window, or insulated glass unit (IGU) is two panes of glass separated by an aluminum spacer which is a hollow rectangular aluminum tube. If you look at the edge of the glass from an angle, you will see the aluminum spacer. They are attached to the spacer with a sealant material, known as the seal (This is the part that fails). The bottom and part of the sides of the spacer are filled with a desiccant, by the manufacturer which absorbs moisture, of course only to a certain point.

Why Windows Fail

Now let's look at what actually makes a unit fail. There are several reasons for seal failure in an IGU. One could be poor manufacturing. Another could be damage during transportation of the IGU. Another could be poor installation or even settling of the physical structure. However, most frequently it is what is known as “Solar Pumping” that causes an IGU to fail. Or more simply put, the cycle the window goes through when the sun heats the glass during the day and then cools off at night. The constant cycle of expansion and contraction eventually create a weak spot in the seal between the glass and the aluminum spacer.
 
Every IGU that is made is going to fail. Manufacturers anticipate it. When double glazing became popular in approximately 1980, manufacturers knew that the insulation factor, or “R” value, is based on dry air. Dry air is an insulator, wet air is not. To keep the air dry in the sealed unit, manufacturers placed desiccants in the frame, usually in the bottom and part way up the sides inside the aluminum spacer bar. Desiccants, or silicates, were once mineral salts that absorbed water, Now, there are any different types of desiccants due to modern chemistry. They all have the same purpose, to keep the trapped air inside the unit free of moisture. Typically you would find a small packet of desiccants, labeled “Do Not Eat” packed in with new electronics, vitamins, pills, and many other consumer goods. These are used to keep products free of moisture damage while storing or shipping. Desiccants in sealed double glazed windows will absorb the moisture in the air and keep the air dry for approximately 5-15 years, depending upon the quality of the frame, quality of the desiccants, quality of the seal and installation. Once the desiccants have reached their absorption capacity and become saturated, moisture begins to accumulate as moisture vapor in the trapped air space. Now the “R” value, or insulating properties are compromised.
 
If the IGU is not vented, the moisture vapor accumulates to the point where it start to re-condensate on the glass and you begin to see water on the inside of the unit. This visible moisture inside the unit will come and go, some people won't even notice this until the window is covered in moisture. As the desiccants have reached ther absorption capacity, they begin to break down and the residue from the broken down desiccants becomes part of the moisture vapor/problem. As the glass is actually porous, the broken down desiccants in the moisture vapor begin to stain the window. The stains begin to appear as blue-white patches on the window edges or streaks coming up from the bottom. Some people see white foggy patches on the window and mistake these stains for moisture. These stains DO NOT come out. Contrary to what some other “foggy window experts” may claim, a stained window cannot be restored or repaired. Some claim to use a “magic solution” to clear the window of any staining. This so-called magic solution only clears the view temporarily.
 
The great majority of failed IGUs are found on the sunny side of the property. Why? This is a factor of temperature, pressures and time. When the sun's direct energy hits a window, the temperature between the panes of glass increases, which in turn increases the pressure in the airspace, on the glass and on the seals. Conversely, as the temperature drops, a negative pressure occurs on the glass and seals. This is called “Solar pumping” and creates tiny breaches inside the unit that serve as channels for the diffusion of air into the airspace. As air travels into the airspace day in and day out, it naturally brings moisture with it.
 
When room temperature air on the inside of the building comes in contact with the glass which has heated moist air inside the airspace, condensation begins to form on the inside of the airspace, just like a cold glass of ice water.

The Early Stages

In the early stages of visible failure, a mist may appear and disappear through the natural cycle of evaporation. As the saturation point is further exceeded though, the dangers begin, as moisture becomes permanent, progressively leaving mineral deposits, stripping the insulating properties of the unit, and scarring the glass. Once scarred, the unit may not be salvageable. The surface of glass is not truly smooth. If viewed under a microscope, it would look like jagged mountain peaks. This is where the mineral deposits can be trapped as the moisture in the window evaporates. Once mineral deposits have developed on the glass, only scrubbing can permanently remove them. Unfortunately, we cannot scrub the inside of the IGU like we can the outside.
 
When the “fog” begins to appear, we can apply our de-fogging technique and remove the fog from between the glass. This is best done, and we have a better chance of success, when applied early on. If too much time has passed with a failed window the chances of successfully correcting the problem by de-fogging become slim. So keep an eye on your windows and call Diamond Window Cleaners at the first sign of “Foggy Windows”.

Windows We Cannot Address

They would be as follows:
Tempered Glass such as in doors, solarium glass and glass that goes to the floor.  You will find the word "Tempered" etched into one corner or the other of the window.  Laminated Glass, windows with standing water at the bottom, windows four stories up and higher, windows in bathrooms, pool areas and hot tub areas, triple pane glass and specialty glass. Specialty glass includes but is not limited to; heat mirror and mirror glass.