Robert Lamoureux | Retrofit windows are already leaking

Robert Lamoureux
Robert Lamoureux
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Robert, we had retrofit windows installed on our home about 3.5 years ago. Two of the four are leaking, so I attempted to contact the installer but have found that he is no longer in business. Now that we are on our own for this, we need to find out why they’d already be leaking. Do you have any insight as to why this would happen to half of them?  

— Rita L. 


Rita, this is a prime example of why I am an advocate of nail-on windows. Nail-on are much more invasive to replace, but they are by far much better over time without maintenance than their counterparts, the retrofits. With retrofits, they remove the old glass panels and add in the new retrofits which have a sealant around them. This sealant is usually good for a year or two, but ultimately needs maintenance to ensure no leaks.  

Most people forget or don’t have the means to either perform maintenance or pay to have it done, so this is where the leaks begin.  

I always advise that if you can afford to, go the extra mile and install new, nail-on windows followed by the necessary repairs of the surrounding materials including waterproofing paper as needed, and you will not see leaks because of lack of sealing.  

The fix for this is, first, to verify that it is the windows leaking and nothing from above. Use a garden hose to run water from the outside onto the window, beginning at the bottom and having someone inside to communicate with. As you move up, you’ll see when the water intrusion happens and from where. I’d videotape this process so you have it for contacting this contractor’s insurance company.  

Hopefully you acquired his insurance information prior to hiring him, and if he did in fact have a policy in place when the work was done, you can make a claim against that policy.  

Ultimately, if you can afford to, I’d recommend going with the nail-on as replacements for these failed windows. Best of luck. 

Robert Lamoureux has more than 40 years of experience as a general contractor, with separate licenses in electrical and plumbing contracting. He owns IMS Construction Inc. in Valencia. His opinions are his own, not necessarily those of The Signal. Opinions expressed in this column are not meant to replace the recommendations of a qualified contractor after that contractor has made a thorough visual inspection. Email questions to Robert at [email protected].    

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