Question: Hi Robert, I live in Canyon Country and recently experienced leaks to three windows on my home. I had a window company come out and they are telling me that I have two options: a “new” window install or a retrofit window install. Cost-wise, the retrofit is very inviting but before we make a decision on this, we’d like your input as we’ve read your articles over the years and value your opinion.
— Geri D.
Answer: Geri, my opinion on retrofit versus nail-on or nail-tab windows is that if you can afford to install the nail-on windows, hands-down, invest in those. Nail-on windows, of course when installed properly and ensuring that the waterproofing paper is in good shape surrounding the install, are a guarantee that there will be no leaks due to the windows.
Retrofit windows are good, but they require maintenance to the seal and, undoubtedly, fail long before a nail-on window would. Retrofit windows require, especially on a southern exposure install, that approximately every two to four years, you remove and reseal them for a waterproof effect. Most of us go on with our lives and tend to forget this massive maintenance job, then only when they leak do we remember that we were supposed to do it.
By then, usually you are encountering a leak to your home and, depending on the severity, sometimes massive and costly damage. I personally have never and will never install a retrofit window, but I understand when budgets only allow that option. In that case, I highly recommend that you give yourself some sort of reminder that you either reseal these yourself or have it done, minimally, every three years, especially on a south-facing elevation. 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].