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Last Post 10/04/2013 7:05 PM by  Jud G.
Thermopane windows with blown seals
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Goldust
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12/23/2010 2:59 PM

    here is a topic that should generate some interest. In the course of my adjusting career I have many times ran into insureds claiming that their thermopane windows developed leaks from the named windstorm. Mainly you will see fogged over windows and in most cases if you look closely you may see the internal seal bulged out of its original position.

     I would like to hear how most of you make a decision on coverage for these windows and how you handle it by repair or by replacement. Every carrier probably has a different take on this,the variables being the windows were that way when the insureds bought the home or have been that way for quite some time before the current event took place. I have never come up with a way to tell how fresh the damage is maybe someone has a firm grasp on how to determine how long it has been since the damage took place.

    JERRY TAYLOR
    Ray Hall
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    12/23/2010 4:10 PM

    All new and older adjusters this myth was exposed about 12-13 years ago by State Farm who hired experts to test these windows for the cause of the "fog and the black specks" between the glass. It was seal failure 100%( defective seals) and had nothing to do with wind pressure. The fog and black specks are "mold". Please do not ever pay or recommend payment or you may be drummed out of town.Many glass repair men now replace the seal's after a good cleaning and "its good as new", and thats deferred  maintenace.

    ChuckDeaton
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    12/23/2010 5:53 PM
    Just experience and thought, my thermopane windows, the ones in the house I live in were installed in 1991, no failures so far.

    Thermopane windows are built somewhere, I think mine were built in Hot Springs, Arkansas, and there is a certain atmospheric pressure at the time of the build, maybe the gas in the window is pressurized maybe not, my point is that + or - pressure differential is dependent on the exterior pressure. Heat and cold changes the pressure differential, as does changes in barometric pressure.

    Generally speaking wind storms don't produce much of a change in barometric pressure. However, major hurricanes do produce significant changes in barometric pressure and could generate a severe differential if the eye passed over a window which contained pressured gas. Is that differential large enough to damage the seal and then cause the window to breath moisture as the barometric pressure normalizes?

    If an insured, who witnessed the windows before the storm, tells an adjuster, who did not witness the condition of the windows before a storm, that the windows were damaged by the storm, who has the upper hand? How should the adjuster proceed? Should the adjuster suggest destructive testing?
    "Prattling on and on about being an ass with experience doesn't make someone experienced. It just makes you an ass." Rod Buvens, Pilot grunt
    Ray Hall
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    12/23/2010 7:51 PM

    Chuck, what would the adjuster do if the insured told the adsjuster who have never been to the house before the hurricane that the storm blew one of the bedrooms away.. take his word. or say proper documentation is required... come on......just say you boss needs proof.

    Several hundred thousand adjusters have used this in the past.


    ChuckDeaton
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    12/24/2010 10:03 AM
    Once the insured raises his right hand and is sworn in his word is "proof". Unless, somehow, the adjuster has better "proof" a jury of his peers will take his word as "proof".

    Several litigated claims, from Katrina, very nearly follow your blown away bedroom scenario and the insured got paid.
    "Prattling on and on about being an ass with experience doesn't make someone experienced. It just makes you an ass." Rod Buvens, Pilot grunt
    Ray Hall
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    12/24/2010 11:37 AM

    I think this is why the american courts have a jury, let the jury hear all the experts and get to the truth.If BP did not demand documation and sworn proof the claims would exceed the 20 billion.Ask for a sworn proof of loss, next time this fairy tale comes up.

    RandyC
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    12/24/2010 7:12 PM
    My brother-in-law, James Hooks, invented the original Home Craftsmen replacement window. His name is on the patent, but he doesn't own the patent as he was paid to invent it. He now works for Don Young Company who bought the rights to that window after Home Craftsmen went out of business. I asked him this question a few years ago.

    He says seal failure is considered a mfg. failure and is covered under warranty. Cheaper windows have shorter warranty periods. He admits that extreme pressure differences inside and outside the window can exist that might cause a weather related seal failure...but the windows are designed to withstand those problems. So, if there is seal failure alone, he says it is considered a material failure...and not storm damage. If there is physical damage to the window frame, that can cause failure...but that would leave physical evidence.

    Don Young warranties their windows for as long as the buyer lives in the house.

    These are words from the Don Young warranty:

    Insulated Glass Units – Don Young Company warrants that insulated
    glass units will be free from seal failure that causes moisture/film between
    the interior glass surfaces (also known as “fogged glass”) for as long as
    you own your home.
    This warranty does not include glass breakage or stress cracks under any
    circumstances. Don Young Company assumes no responsibility for
    insulated glass failures under these conditions:

    This logic is what I follow, subject to change by the carrier I'm working for. It's what I tell my insureds. It's what I recommend to the carrier. I look for damage to the frame. If there is none, I suggest the insured contact the window company.

    In Denver last year there was a company advertising they would repair fogged windows on site. I asked my brother-in-law about those repairs. He did not recommend them. He said if the window fogged and it was out of warranty, the owner should replace that part of the window.
    Ray Hall
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    12/24/2010 8:56 PM

    This was a big flap in the middle 90,s, I worked for Allstate/Pilot on brach assist in Atlanta for 2 years a total of 17 months. Thousands of  6 x6,8 double pane sliding doors had "fogged" panes from seal failure the glass repair folks would clean and install a new seal for $125.00 if it was out of warranty.

    On a real hot fire alum. windows will pit and many vinyl windows will melt.Many of the concrete tilt wall commercial building will warp in a very hot fire also.Just remember the twin towers.

    Goldust
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    12/25/2010 1:49 AM

    Hi Ray, and A Very Merry Christmas to you and your family. How do you handle these claims ?do you look for dents in the window frame and anything else that could cause the damage to the seal or do you just deny them right from the git go? I want to know as you have been around the block and know what the carriers have told you to look for before you include these in your estimate. Whether it be a repair or a denial. You have worked the southern states long enough you must have a rule of thumb you go by. lets pass your knowledge on to the newbies and us other ol' farts who want to do it right.

      i want to handle these and every other claims the same if they had damage from the event they should be made whole but if the insured bought the home and every window is fogged since they bought it that isn't fair to the carrier either. lets disect this question and see if we can arrive at a common decision on the way to handle this window claim.

    JERRY TAYLOR
    ChuckDeaton
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    12/25/2010 10:55 AM

    I have to ask, what does the "twin towers" have to do with a fire damaged, concrete, tilt wall?

    "Prattling on and on about being an ass with experience doesn't make someone experienced. It just makes you an ass." Rod Buvens, Pilot grunt
    ChuckDeaton
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    12/25/2010 12:31 PM
    "But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world
    to confound the wise..."
    "Prattling on and on about being an ass with experience doesn't make someone experienced. It just makes you an ass." Rod Buvens, Pilot grunt
    Ray Hall
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    12/25/2010 8:08 PM

    I thought it was simple, the tilt wall and these two buildings were destroyed by fire.

    wscook
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    02/05/2011 9:20 AM

    What a waste of a nice Saturday morning in Florida to be posting about an almost dead thread.

    In my capacity as an adjuster, with more than a few years experience, I am qualified to comment on claim subjects that interest me.  Why would a window manufacturer provide a warranty of X years guaranteeing that the seals would protect a thermopane window from fogging?  I can only assume that they have tested the threshold limits of performance assurance that, absent issues of regular wear and tear, the window seal  will last X years.  I am sure that their calculations make allowances for a few days over the minimum standards of their warranty.  I hope all experience adjusters willl agree so far, I am sure.  The space between the glass panels are sealed at the edges all the way around and then Argon gas ( I think) is injected in the cavity under pressure placing a positive strain on the new seal.  As the warranted time period expires due to normal ageing process the life expectancy of the seal is then dependent on the next harmful event to cause it's demise.  Recall that the warranty was for X years and we are now X years plus X months and although weakened by age and weathering the seals are hanging in there keeping a positive pressure with Argon gas to avoid the intrusion of any H2O gas.  For my scenario to have validity I will say that the windows were installed in an oceanfront high-end home to provide an expansive view of the ocean. ( a wall of windows) a week prior to an approaching hurricane one of the window's seals gives up the ghost and clouds over from the intrusions of H2O gas.  This is an indication that the out of warranty seals, although fully functional, are approaching the end of their useful life.  The harmful event of an extreme low pressure, constant high winds and high wind gust of winds associated with a hurricane passes within a proximity to cause a harmful event and  the final demise of the nearly worn-out seals and the property owner awakens to find that his magnificent ocean view is now obscured by out of warranty fogged windows.  He calls his agent immediately and.......

    We can all write the final chapter of my little Saturday morning vignette depending on the expertise and agenda one brings to our victims claim.

    William S Cook

    Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Kentucky, Ohio, Missouri and Colorado Licensed  Public Adjuster

    Formerly, Louisiana, Mississippi, California, West Virginia, New York and Virgin Island Licensed Public Adjuster

     

    William S Cook Public Adjuster/Umpire/Appraiser
    stormcrow
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    02/05/2011 10:14 AM

    Sometimes I wonder if our job is to determine what isn't covered or what is covered.

    I want to die peacefully in my sleep like my grandfather, not screaming in terror like his passengers.
    RandyC
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    02/05/2011 11:29 AM
    The threshold for waste of time might differ between sunny Florida and icebound Texas. As an adjuster, I am at the experience level that defers to the carrier guideline, and so far that has been to cover windows with physical damage from a covered or non-excluded peril--no obvious physical damage--no coverage.

    My brother-in-law designs windows for Don Young company. They warrant their windows for as long as the buyer lives in the house. From his explanation and reading other mfg, this is my current understanding on multi-paned windows: The various panes of glass are sealed. The space between the glass is filled with flushed air, freon, argon and/or krypton gas and a desiccant material. Regardless of how great the seal there will be some interchange of gas between the outside and inside as pressure naturally changes. The desiccant material will absorb the moisture preventing fog until it is saturated. At that point fogging will happen.

    How long that takes depends on the quality of the materials and workmanship used to manufacture the unit. If the clarity of gas between the window depends upon the desiccant and the quality of the seal, one could think of it somewhat like a product with an irreplaceable battery. Once the battery is spent, the product is used up. Once the desiccant in the window has been saturated, it is spent. The anti-fogging quality of the window is worn out! That would not usually be covered.

    If the glass is broken, if the window frame is damaged, of if any part of the seal shows physical damage, I would recommend coverage.
    RandyC
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    02/05/2011 12:35 PM
    Mr. Cook,

    I just got off the phone with my brother-in-law (Don Young Company). He says there is some positive pressure in the gas fill, but very slight. It is only to prevent something called deflection which causes a distortion in the glass either convex or concave. If it is too little, the glass can touch at the center. If it is too much it will bow and cause distorted vision. He wasn't so sure about the constant but slight interchange of gas as Pella was in their explanation on the life of the desiccant. In his view the seal was more like you described, complete until failure. He agreed that the desiccant would saturate, but in his view the desiccant only works after a seal failure. He was surprised that I had found the explanation that I had found. They test their windows on a regular basis. Last year in his plant they produced 2000 lites per week with only 50 seal failures for the year.

    He also said most failures come at the corners of the window, and that more than 99% of the failures are due to some human error at the time of manufacture. In the end, he still feels the insurance companies would be correct in not covering fogged windows without some evidence of physical damage.

    wscook
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    02/05/2011 3:14 PM

    Randy

    Ask your brother-in-law if windows buffeted by hurricane force winds could cause deflection enough to blow out the seal on a window that is beyond his lifetime gurantee to the original owner.  Deflection of glass is relative to the area of the glass to the exposure, a slider more likely to fail than a small bathroom window when subjected to the same harmful event.  If the defletion caused by sudden pressure change or force of wind is enough to blow an aged and  weakend seal, a hasty uninformed fact finder will likely surmise after inspection that there is no physical damage.  Yet the insured is claming that it was not fogged prior to the harmful event.  I am also curious if his warranty is simlar to some roof warranties that expire if the property has been exposed to a hurricane during the warranty period.  IE no damage during the hurricane but now roof is having failure problems unrelated to the wind event.

     

    Bill Cook

    William S Cook Public Adjuster/Umpire/Appraiser
    RandyC
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    02/05/2011 6:34 PM
    Don Young's warranty does have a disclaimer for seal failure is caused by physical damage, but I just learned that as a practical matter if the glass fogs they just fix it and send the customer on their way with the hope that they will buy more of their windows for future homes. His company has a plant in Houston, but there was no noticeable increase in seal failure problems during or after Ike. My brother-in-law said they replaced a lot of damaged windows, but seal failure was just not a problem for them.

    In my earlier post I mentioned 50 failures last year. Those were in plant during the mfg. process. The number that are brought in for repair after installation due to seal failure are only about ten per year....with no noticeable increase due to Hurricane Ike.

    He did say that some of the less expensive windows using metal spacers have seal failures of 30 to 50%, but it is from the design and mfg. rather than pressure differential. In your initial post you mentioned something about the testing that was probably done by each mfg. and that they would probably know what to expect from the windows they build. I think that is correct. The window warranty is probably designed to run out about the time the window is ready to fail.

    All the mfg. seem to agree that fogging is a seal failure rather than damage.

    As to insured claiming there was no fogging prior to a storm, I would never argue with an insured. Maybe they just never noticed, or maybe they checked before and after and know exactly when it happened.
    johnclark719@yahoo.com
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    02/05/2011 8:38 PM
    First of all I will state that most window fog claims are due to deterioration as is agreed by most manufacturing companies, and as stated, the reason for a time limit of warranty. Nothing last forever. You will also have an obsolete clause in most policies and could be considered in some cases.

    Now each claim is to be adjusted on its own merit so you must inspect each claim thouroughly for consideration. A couple of things I look for in the moisture are milky spots which indicate the failure is older. It is backed up by engineering so not just my own method. If you have the very fresh moisture spots then you need to look further to document asking the Insurance Company to pay or to disallow the window claim. No one can give you a standard of how to pay other than it must have direct physical damage to be considered. I am not sure of the timeline between failure and the moisture turning milkly but it is considerable so a fresh looking moisture spot is not to mean it is fresh either.

    I would look at age of window and the manufacturer as well as the "metal spacer", as indicated in above post, as all these affect the sealing of the window and when it might loose its sealing capabilities. You need to do justice to both the insured as well as the Carrier with the Carrier making a final decision.
    earthwindnfire
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    02/09/2011 3:28 PM
    Also might want to look for circumstantial evidence. Which way did the storm come from? Are there similarly aged windows on the opposite risk elevations that have fogging? If so, and in the absence of physical damage to the frame of the claimed window, I'd be likely to call it out as wear and tear. But ALWAYS defer to the carrier. Take good pictures and submit it as a question to the carrier. Give them the hot seat rather than taking it on yourself. The insured should get the benefit of doubt from us as independents. Let the carrier, or your storm boss make the final call.
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