Windows Frequently Asked Questions

This Document was created to answer some frequently asked question about Sussel Builders windows.  Below you’ll find answers to question concerning condensation, Types of Glass, and window evaluation.

Who should I buy windows from?

Where do I go to buy an efficient window?

Why are my windows drafty and will new replacement windows stop the draft?

Will new vinyl windows eliminate condensation?

When should I consider replacing my windows?

What should I look for when selecting a product?

What is Low-E Glass and why should I consider it?

I have odd-sized windows. Can Sussel Builders provide replacement windows to fit my openings?

What causes condensation on windows?

What does AAMA and NFRC certified mean to me as a homeowner?

What's the best way to evaluate a window's energy performance?

Does the old adage, "If it Ain't Broke..." apply to old windows?

How can I save money on energy bills?

Will windows improve my home's appearance?

What can I do to increase ventilation?

How do I clean my windows?

How can I remove stains from vinyl window and door frames?

How can I keep my vinyl windows clean and lubricated?

What do I do for frame cleaning?

What do I do for glass care?

How can I ensure smooth operation for my windows?

What causes condensation and mold?

What about drainage systems?

What are some key Do's and Don'ts?

How long will a window or door last?

What is the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA)?

What is Double Glazing?

What is a Casement Window?

What is a Double-Hung Window?

What is a Slider Window?


What is Low-Emmisivity (Low-E) Glass?

What is the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC)?

What is R-Value?

Window Convection what is it?

Drafts vs. Convection what’s the difference?

Window Condensation:
What is Condensation?
What causes High Humidity?
Why Wasn’t it always there?
Dose Condensation Depend on my window type?
Tips to reduce your Home’s Humidity.




Who should I buy windows from?

A consumer should select a window company who sells energy efficient products, has a reputation for service and stability, and provides a warranty on the unit. We recommend that you buy from a company with a commitment to participating in the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) certification and labeling process and in the ENERGY STAR® Windows program.
Many companies will also participate in the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA) and will have a permanent label on the product indicating their participation. Membership in all of these organizations is an indication that you are dealing with a manufacturer who cares about the quality of their product and the product's energy efficiency.

Where do I go to buy an efficient window?

Before you buy a window, we recommend that you do your research via the web and written material and then shop around. Windows are complicated devices, made more complicated by the fact that recommended window types vary by climate. Climates where heating is very important have different product recommendations than climates where cooling is more important.
First, educate yourself about what kind of window is right for your climate and needs. Learn about the NFRC and ENERGY STAR® labels and why they are important. Prepare yourself to ask questions. Visit retailers or distributors. Look for the product you want within your price range.
Ask questions of the sales staff and let them tell you about the energy efficiency features of the products. Remember to 1) look for the ENERGY STAR®, 2) Look for the NFRC label, 3) select a product that is right for your climate and your pocketbook. Sometimes a homeowner feels more comfortable with a particular company rather than a particular product. Installation is a very important issue with windows. Ask the company to describe the installation process. Make sure your contractor knows as much about ENERGY STAR® products and NFRC labeling as you do.

Why are my windows drafty and will new windows stop the draft?

Drafty windows and air infiltration could have several causes. Improper installation is often the culprit but not always. If the windows were improperly installed, the defects can normally be corrected without removing or replacing the window.
Proper caulking and flashing should prevent perimeter air leakage. However, if the installation twists or racks the window frame causing the sash weatherstrip not to be able to seal the sash to the frame, removal of the window to correct the problem may be necessary. You can determine whether the air is coming in at the joint between the frame and the house or the joint between the sash and the frame. Hold a lighted candle or lighter in front of each joint when the wind is blowing and slowly move it along the joint. If the flame flickers strongly or goes out, the joint is probably leaking.
If the leak is between the frame and the sash and the window has been installed square, plumb, level and is not twisted or racked, the problem may be construction of the window or window design. If your windows are not efficient in your climate and particularly if it does not have insulated glazing, the air may not be leakage but simply cold room air flowing down the surface of the window.

As the window surface becomes colder, it cools the room air next to it. This cooled room air is then heavier than the warmer room air further into the room. Because the cooled room air is heavier it sinks toward the floor and is replaced by warmer room air, which is then cooled. This process can result in noticeable air flow but it is not air leakage from the outside. Replacement of the window by an energy efficient window is the solution here.

Will new windows eliminate condensation?

Condensation is a direct result of interior humidity and the difference between indoor and outside air temperature. If you keep the humidity in your house low, then the likelihood of experiencing condensation is also low. However, the efficiency of your window will also impact the temperature and humidity level at which condensation occurs. Energy efficient windows will help reduce condensation.
Here's why: high performance windows with low U-factors result in inside glass surface temperatures much closer to the room air temperature. Windows with warm edge technologies and non-metal frames are also less likely to have condensation on the frame or at the edge of the glass.
Insulated "superwindows" with three or more layers will virtually eliminate condensation on the interior surface of the glass -- even under extreme cold weather conditions. Note that in certain conditions (humid mornings after a clear night sky), some superwindows may have dew on their outside surface. These windows are such good insulators, the dew is condensing there just like it does on an insulated wall.

When should I consider replacing my windows?

You should consider replacing your windows if:

  • Your windows aren't energy efficient.
  • Your wood frames are rotting.
  • You get excessive amounts of condensation, fading of furniture and draperies.
  • You are tired of painting and staining.
  • You feel drafts while sitting near your current windows.

What should I look for when selecting a product?

Choose a company with a proven track record and good references. Make sure you are getting a high quality product and certified installers.

What is low-e glass and why should I consider it?

Low-e glass is short for low-emissivity glass. It has a very thin coat of material on the glass to make it more efficient, especially in very sunny, hot areas. It helps reflect standing heat away from the surface of the glass, keeping unwanted heat out in the summer and desired heat inside in the winter.
Low-e glass is the most cost effective way to increase the efficiency of your windows. Low-e coatings can also help reduce furniture and carpet fading by reducing the amount of ultraviolet (UV) radiation that enters your home. Ultraviolet radiation can alter the chemical structure of dyes and other colorants.

I have odd-sized windows in my Minnesota home. Can Sussel Builders provide windows to fit my openings?

Yes,  Sussel Builders carries custom-made windows to the nearest 1/8" increment and can produce a variety of shapes and sizes.

What causes condensation on windows?

Condensation is caused by excess humidity or invisible water vapor present in the air. When this water vapor encounters a surface at a cooler temperature, it turns to visible droplets of moisture. To reduce the moisture in your Michigan or Ohio home, use fans in bathrooms, kitchens and laundry rooms to circulate the air. A dehumidifier can be used to remove excess humidity from the air.

What does AAMA and NFRC certified mean to me as a homeowner?

The American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA) sets all performance standards, product certification and educational programs for the window industry. When a product passes AAMA tests, it ensures long, reliable service if properly installed and maintained correctly. The National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) is a non-profit organization created by the Department of Energy and the window, door and skylight industry. It provides consistent ratings on window, door and skylight products pertaining to the energy performance of that product.
A NFRC label is placed on window, door, and skylight products to inform consumers about a product's U-factor. Factors taken into consideration for the U-factor rating include: the ability of the product to block warming caused by sunlight, light transmittance and air leakage by infiltration through cracks in the product assembly.

What's the best way to evaluate a window's energy performance?

The easiest way to compare energy performance of different windows and doors is to read the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) label. It provides valuable efficiency information about the product including the u-value, solar heat gain and visible light transmittance values. Also check to see if the product is ENERGY STAR® approved.

Does the old adage, "If it Ain't Broke..." apply to old windows?

There are many reasons to replace your old single-pane windows - and most of them have nothing to do with neighborhood baseball games.
Here are just a few smart reasons to upgrade to a smarter window:

Save Money on Energy Bills

If you have single-pane windows, upgrading to hansons windows with energy efficient features like double-pane, Low-e tinted and low-e Plus glass will result in unbelievable year-round savings.

Improve Your Home's Appearance

Our high quality vinyl and selection of styles and hardware options can improve the look of your home both inside and out. Often, simply changing the window style can dramatically change the entire appearance of a room.

Increase Ventilation

Get more fresh air circulating in your house by replacing fixed units with operable venting windows. You'll be amazed at the difference quality windows make to the quality of life in your home.

How Do I Clean My Windows?

When cleaning windows and doors, use the mildest cleaners possible. NEVER use solvents or abrasive cleansers -some chemicals can harm vinyl and PVC surfaces and other window components.
We recommend Fantastik® and similar products to clean vinyl window frame surfaces. Over-the-counter glass cleaning products are recommended for cleaning windows. Below is a chart of cleaners for specific circumstances recommended by the Vinyl Window and Door Institute.

Cleaners to Remove Stains from Vinyl Window and Door Frames

  • Bubble Gum: Fantastik®, Murphy Oil Soap®, Solution of vinegar(30%), Water(70%), Windex®
  • Crayon: Lestoil® DAP (Oil-Based Caulk) Fantastik®
  • Felt Tip Pen: Fantastik®, water-based cleaners
  • Grass: Fantastik®, Lysol®, Murphy Oil Soap®, Windex®
  • Lipstick: Fantastik®, Murphy Oil Soap®
  • Grease: Fantastik®, Lestoil®, Murphy Oil Soap®, Windex®
  • Mold and Mildew: Fantastik®, Solution of vinegar(30%), Water(70%), Windex®
  • Motor Oil: Fantastik®, Lysol®, Murphy Oil Soap®, Windex® Oil Soft Scrub®
  • Paint: Brillo® Pad,Soft Scrub®
  • Pencil: Soft Scrub®
  • Rust: Fantastik®, Murphy Oil Soap®, Windex®
  • Tar: Soft Scrub®
  • Top Soil: Fantastik®, Lestoil®, Murphy Oil Soap®

*Cleaning Materials are listed in alphabetical Order. Hansons does not endorse proprietary products or processes and makes no warranties for the products referenced herein. References to proprietary names is for illustrative purposes only, and is not intended to imply that there are not equally effective alternatives. All cleaners used must be thoroughly rinsed off and dried after use or discoloration of vinyl frames could occur.

How to Keep Your Windows Clean and Lubricated

Vacuum dirt and debris from sill and track areas before washing. Clean glass and window or door frame with a mixture of mild dish soap and water. Rinse completely with clean water and wipe dry with a soft cloth to avoid water spots. Avoid washing glass in direct sunlight. Never use abrasive or caustic cleaners. They can cause permanent damage to the frame finish or the glass.
Mild, nonabrasive soaps are usually the safest for most dirt and stain removal, but any cleaner you use should be tested in an inconspicuous area first. Always rinse completely with clear water and wipe dry if possible. Check to make sure drainage or "weep" holes are always clear of dirt and obstructions - both inside and outside the window or door in the bottom of the frame. Composite windows do not have weep holes. Note: If the window is "stacked," there may be weep holes between units.
Clean screens by removing them, washing them on a flat, clean surface with mild soap and water and a soft brush, then rinse, wipe dry and reinstall. Windows and doors with moving parts include hardware components that should be lubricated periodically. In salt-air environments, these components require monthly lubrication.
After wiping clean, use a silicone spray with a non-petroleum-based propellant on door or sliding window tracks, rollers and locking hardware.

Frame Cleaning

Keeping your windows and doors clean means more than just the glass. Here are some helpful tips for cleaning your window and door frames effectively without damaging them. Vacuum dirt from sill and track areas before washing.
Clean window and door frames with a mixture of mild dish soap and water.
Abrasive or caustic cleaners or solvents are never recommended because they might cause permanent damage to the frame finish.
Mild, nonabrasive soaps* are usually safest for most dirt and stain removal.
Always rinse completely with clear water and wipe dry.
Check to make certain that drainage or "weep" holes are always clear of dirt or obstructions - both inside and outside the window or door in the bottom of the frame.
Note: If the window is "stacked," there may be weep holes between units. *Ivory® is an example of a mild dish soap. Always test cleaners in an inconspicuous area first.

Glass Care

Glass care today is more important than ever. Insulating, low-e or heat reflective glass requires proper maintenance to ensure their complete effectiveness.
Never use any petroleum-based cleaners, or caustic chemicals on your glass.
Never use a razor blade, putty knife or abrasive pad to clean the glass.
Do not use a high-pressure spray nozzle when rinsing your windows after washing.
All of these practices may damage the glass surface, the insulating glass seal, or component parts.
Clean glass with a mixture of mild dish soap* and water. Rinse completely with clear water, then wipe dry with a soft cloth to avoid water spots.
Avoid washing glass in direct sunlight.
Abrasive or caustic cleaners are never recommended because they might cause permanent damage to the finish or the glass.
Clean screens by first removing, then washing on a flat, clean surface with mild soap and water and a soft brush. Rinse, wipe dry and reinstall.

Smooth Operation

To ensure that your windows and doors open, close, lock and unlock easily for years to come, follow these helpful maintenance tips to keep your windows and doors operating smoothly.
Moving parts in hardware components and tracks and rollers should be lubricated periodically in accordance with the manufacturer's maintenance instructions. In salt-air environments this can mean at least monthly.
Check weather stripping around operable window and door panels and be sure it seals evenly.
On sliding doors and windows, make certain track area is kept clean. Vacuum as needed to clear dirt or any debris.
Adjust sliding door rollers for proper height clearances. Most door rollers can be adjusted with a screwdriver through access holes in either the end or side of the sliding panel at the bottom.
Rolling screen doors may be adjusted to run smoothly. Use a screwdriver-often in all four corners-to make adjustment.
After making door roller adjustments it may be necessary to make adjustments in the lock strike placement. Most strikes may be adjusted by loosening screw fasteners, moving strike plate and tightening. Check for proper lock operation.

Condensation & Mold

Window condensation can be a natural occurrence. It can be a warning that excessive moisture is present and may cause structural deterioration and the possibility of mold growth.
Condensation on the inside of a window is a result of a higher air moisture content contacting lower temperatures on the glass. The higher the interior humidity and the lower the outside window temperature, the more condensation can occur.
Excessive interior humidity can lead to structural damage and health concerns if high moisture levels are sustained inside wall cavities. Wood rot, mold and mildew can result. To prevent these problems:

  • Check all sash for smooth adequate operation.
  • Add integrated window ventilators and air exchange devices if necessary.
  • Regularly use exhaust fans especially when showering.
  • Install and use a dehumidifier.
  • Use ceiling fans to circulate air.
  • Open windows and doors whenever practical or possible to allow interior moisture to escape.

Drainage Systems

Windows and doors often have a simple drainage system or "weep" system designed right into the product. These water drainage pathways must be kept clear and clean for the window or door to operate correctly.
It's normal for water to accumulate in the sill or track area with wind driven rain. The water is intended to drain to the outside as water builds up or outside pressure subsides.
Keep sill or track areas clean of dirt or debris. Make sure that outside and inside "weep" holes and sill area are kept clear of any dirt, stucco, sand, or building materials.
Use a small, soft bottlebrush to clear openings.
Windows can be vulnerable to water leakage at the corners if not properly maintained. If a crack appears, it should be sealed with a good grade of sealant according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Key Do's and Don'ts

DO: Clean the frame surfaces.
DON'T: Use a razor blade, putty knife or abrasive pad.
DO: Use a glass cleaner or mild detergent.
DON'T: Use any petroleum-based cleaners or solvents.
DO: Clean tracks and weepholes.
DON'T: Use oil-based lubricants or damage weephole covers/baffles.
DO: Check weather stripping and hardware.
DON'T: Live with poor performing components.
DO: Clean your insulating glass with proper cleaning agents.
DON'T: Add attachments to window or glass without approval from the window manufacturer.
DO: Choose certified windows and exterior glass doors.
DON'T: Settle for products that do not meet important air, water, structural, forced entry and thermal performance standards.
DO: Read and understand your manufacturer's warranty and install per the manufacturer's instructions.

How Long Will a Window or Door Last?

Most of today's windows are made from a frame material and an insulating glass "sandwich"-each component subject to wear, weathering, and potential failure. Weatherstripping in the frame and moving parts can wear out with use. An insulating glass panel may suffer a broken seal after years of expansion and contraction with temperature changes-creating a "fogged" look as moisture accumulates between the glass panels. According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), some windows can last up to 50 years. Some of the factors that go into the determination include:
Frame material
Quality construction practices and building style
Product quality
Climate and exposure
Routine care and maintenance
Replacement of parts that wear with use with an AAMA Certified product that's cared for, you can expect to increase the service life.

What is the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA)?

The American Architectural Manufacturers Association or AAMA sets all performance standards, product certification and educational programs for the window industry. When a product passes AAMA tests, you can expect long and reliable service as long as the window is installed and maintained correctly.

What is Double Glazing?

Two panes of glass separated by an air-space to form insulating glass.

What is a Casement Window?

A window that opens from the side like a door. Historically, casements were the first working windows. They were strategically placed throughout a house to capture breezes and direct them through the rooms. Screens are hung internally to prevent dirt and insects from entering the house.

What is a Double-Hung Window?

A window with two sashes, upper and lower, that slide vertically past each other.

What is a Slider Window?

A window with a sash or sashes that move horizontally.


ENERGY STAR is an independent U.S. government program establishing a standard set of guidelines to recognize the energy efficiency of various products. ENERGY STAR guidelines are used in conjunction with a variety of building materials, including windows and patio doors. Over the past 10 years, ENERGY STAR guidelines have helped double the efficiency of windows they endorse.

What is Low-Emmisivity (Low-E) Glass?

Low-e glass is manufactured by depositing a microscopically thin, transparent metal or metallic oxide layer on the glass. Low-e coatings reduce radiant heat loss, and can reduce the passage of UV rays. Use of heat-resistant (or absorbing) glass began in the 1950s, as did the use of reflective (or mirror) glass.

What is the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC)?

The NFRC is an independent, third-party certification organization with industry-accepted standards for evaluating and certifying energy performance. The NFRC Certificate contains U-factor, SHGC (Solar Heat Gain Coefficient) and VT (Visible Transmittance) values. These values form the basis for the ENERGY STAR® Door and Window Program.

What is R-Value?

Refers to a window's resistance to thermal transfer or heat flow. The higher the value, the better the insulation.

Windows convection

At Sussel Builders we take great pride in providing our customers with the service and information they need to understand and care for the products they have purchased. We are always available to assist you, and we want to provide you the best customer service available. The following information is designed to address some common questions and concerns.

Drafts vs. Convection

Drafty Windows - Windows can draft for a variety of reasons such as cracked caulk, improper window locking, interlocks that are not lined up to seal properly, damaged or missing weather stripping, and poor insulation within the interior walls. These types of problems are easy to remedy.

Convection - However, windows may seem “drafty” for another reason; namely a process known in physics as convection. Convection can lead you to believe that your windows are drafty. Convection occurs when air gives up its heat to the cooler glass and sinks towards the floor. This movement sucks new, warmer air toward the glass that is in turn cooled, creating a draft. What you are actually experiencing is the process of warm air forcing colder air to move due to differing density properties. Heated air circulates through the home. When it reaches window glass it effectively pushes the existing cold air off of the glass.
This is an easy experiment and example of how convection works: Fill a glass with ice and water. Let it stand for about ten minutes. When you return, place your hands around (but not touching) the glass. You will feel cold air on your hands as warm air pushes it away from the glass surface. Convection is actually proof that your new windows are working well and energy efficient.

Tips to Reduce Convection - Leave your blinds or window treatments open about a ¼ inch, so that heated air can reach the glass. Make sure that your heat register exchanges are not obstructed by couches or other furnishings.


Window Condensation

Windows serve as visible areas for moisture to condense, warning you that there is too much moisture inside your home. Windows do not cause condensation.
Of course windows don't manufacture water. If you were out in the desert, you would want a canteen with you, not a window. But people seem to believe that windows do manufacture water. They call up window contractors and say, "My windows are all wet, and it must be the fault of the windows." Well, not quite... Water on windows is condensation, and it can be a problem. However, it's not a window problem, and the solution does not come from the windows.

What is Condensation?

Condensation is the result of high humidity that produces a "fog" once it hits a colder surface. The humidity is caused by excess water vapor in the home. This is commonly seen in a foggy mirror after a hot shower. Condensation usually occurs first on windows because glass surfaces have the lowest temperature of any of the interior surfaces in the home.

What Causes High Humidity?

Humidity comes from excess water vapor in the air. All homes have a certain level of moisture due to household activities. Activities such as cooking, laundry and dish washing can add up to five pounds of water vapor into the air daily! Other moisture-producing agents include plants, heating systems and humidifiers.
Seasonal changes, quick changes in temperature, reconstruction and remodeling can also add excess humidity temporarily into the air. During construction, large quantities of water are displaced into the air from building materials such as concrete, plaster, taping, etc. After one season of heating it will commonly dry out and your condensation problems will disappear.

Why Wasn't it Always There?

Old drafty windows allow moisture to escape through inefficient seals and cracks. Today's technology produces more energy efficient, "tighter" homes. This is great for keeping your home more comfortable, quieter, and cleaner, BUT by sealing your home you are also keeping moisture in. In today's homes it is very easy to build up extremely high levels of humidity.

Does Condensation Depend on My Window Type?

Sometimes. Recessed windows like bow and bay windows usually experience more condensation than other window styles. This is because air circulated around those window types is usually more restricted, and since they hang away from the insulated house wall, bays and bows could be a few degrees cooler in temperature. Placing a common electric fan near the window to produce air circulation may also be helpful.

Here are Some Tips to Reduce Your Home's Humidity:

  • Be sure all ventilation to the outside is functional. Use kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans. Consider installing a laundry room exhaust fan. Run exhaust fans while the humidity-producing appliance is operating or the humidity-producing activity is going on, and let them run a while after the activities have ended.
  • Air out your kitchen, bathroom and laundry room during or just after use. Because outside air usually contains less water vapor, it will "dilute" the humidity of inside air. This takes place automatically in older houses through constant infiltration of outside air.
  • The process of heating your home will reduce the relative humidity- provided it's dry heat. It will counter balance most or all of the moisture produced by modern living.
  • If you have a furnace humidifier or other humidifying device in your home, be sure it is adjusted to produce the proper amount of humidity, or turn it off. The humidity produced elsewhere in your home may mean these devices are not needed at this time.
  • Be sure that louvers in attic or basement crawl spaces are open and that they are large enough.
  • Open the fireplace damper to allow an easier escape for moisture.
  • Install ceiling fans to keep air circulating within your home.

If troublesome condensation persists, see your heating contractor about an outside air intake for your furnace, venting of gas burning heaters and appliances, or installation of ventilating fans.

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