because there is no longer a sealed, dry air pocket providing an insulating layer. Plus, if the airspace between the panes of glass was filled with argon gas, as is the case with many modern windows, that gas is likely gone. Without a dry, sealed airspace and without argon gas, the window’s insulating capabilities will really suffer.
What to Do
Our window manufacturers (as most do) cover seal failures under their manufacturer’s warranty on glass. The warranty period varies from 20 years to lifetime, depending on the manufacturer, so it is quite long. The best first step is to contact the manufacturer or the installer to ask about this coverage and how to order a new glass unit. Even if the glass is not under warranty, the manufacturer should still be able to sell you a new glass unit for a reasonable cost.
And yes, only the glass unit itself needs to be replaced. Neither the sash nor the whole window should need to be replaced. The replacement process normally only takes about 20 minutes or so and involves removing the glazing bead (the trim piece that holds the glass in the sash), removing the glass unit, installing the new glass unit and sealing everything back up.
If a seal failure occurs and you are being told you need a whole new window, this is not necessary in most cases, so beware.
Having said this, there are times where it might be worthwhile to invest in a new window. If you are experiencing a seal failure in a lower quality (e.g., “builder grade”) window, warranties can be weak and if the glass is not covered, you will be out of pocket for the cost of the replacement glass, plus the labor to install this. In this scenario, the cost of the materials and labor are many times not worth putting into a low-quality window and buying a whole new replacement window could be the answer. A reputable window company will be able to guide you through this process and help you make the best decision for your situation.
In addition to making a window look bad, seal failures can also have a significant impact on the energy efficiency of your window. As a result, this issue should be addressed sooner rather than later. Contact the manufacturer or installer of your windows for help and make sure to ask about the warranty. Remember, an entirely new window is often not needed for a simple seal failure concern, but weigh the costs and consider it if you are dealing with a “builder grade” product.
If you do not know who manufactured your windows, you can always look for manufacturer’s marks (their name or logo) on the sash lock, handle mechanism, or on the glass (some manufacturers etch the glass in the corner with their name or logo). If neither of these things are apparent, many window manufacturers will place a warranty sticker in the top part of the frame on double hung windows (the most common type of residential window). You just need to pull down the top sash and look up inside the frame.
If you are experiencing a seal failure in a window installed by Best Door & Window, don’t hesitate to contact us and we will be happy to help!