Balance. We can balance a checkbook. Balance a bike – or a ball. Eat a balanced diet. Achieve balance in our lives or even walk a tight rope if we have really good balance! But what about balance in the home -- and what connection to windows does this have?
Balance in the home can mean a lot of things, but yes, it can also relate to windows and air infiltration. Homeowners who have spent a lot of their hard-earned money on replacement windows now expect to see the benefits of the new windows. After all, the salesman promised substantial fuel savings and a warmer, more comfortable interior. Then, in some cases, they feel those winter drafts that bothered them before. The money’s gone now and they still feel cold drafts. Why?
Most people never realize or perhaps don’t want to admit that there could be other problems with their homes. Many window replacement jobs also include upgrades to the roof, soffit, siding and insulation. All of these are designed to tighten the home’s “envelope” and prevent air exchange to the exterior. Not everyone stops to think about the effects of these changes to the internal airflow of the home.
A home’s heating and air conditioning system, if properly designed, must function with BALANCE. This is to say that the positive or blower side of the system must have access to an air volume equal to the vacuum side of the system. In many cases, some of the home’s negative (vacuum) pressure of the system is drawn through the cracks around the old windows, the joints in old siding, the old soffit, fascia, roofing or uninsulated wall cavities.
When all these areas are closed up, the home’s heating system can be starved for negative volume. Well, guess what! The air has to come from somewhere! That “somewhere” is likely going to be one of the only operating seals left in the home’s envelope --- THE WINDOWS. This pressure can become so great that it will actually pull an entry door open as soon as the latch is released.
Operating windows are designed to allow airflow around their seals by means of weeping systems. These systems are critical to the windows' ability to control water penetration, however they rely on openings inside the window frame to let water escape. These same chambers can never be sealed airtight. Now introduce a vacuum similar to a shop vac to the windows' surface. What do you think will happen? Often it’s a phone call to the contractor or window dealer. “Hi, I spent thousands of dollars on your new windows and I have drafts! What are you going to do about it?”
Remember – the air has to come from somewhere for balance.
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