July 5, 2007

Pella Thermastar Windows Review and Install Notes

Pella Thermastar Retrofit Vinyl Windows...

I bought 9 of them. I am not very impressed. If this were my dream house I would spend a little extra for a better brand. That said, I don't plan on living in the Hopi Hollow forever and I have budget concerns. I'm in the middle of installing them right now. If you are considering installing these windows yourself, I hope you find my experience helpful.

For the price, they do the job well. The double pane and Low-E is far better than my old single pane, aluminum frame windows. The old windows did very little to block the Southern California heat. The old single pane windows jiggled and rattled when an occasional truck would roll by. This is no longer an issue. The old windows required two hands to open and close. These new Pella windows slide rather effortlessly.

Pro's
  • Inexpensive - I check out prices for Milgard, Certainteed, and Superior Windows. I saved over $1000 by purchasing Pella. Moreover, I asked the manager if there was anything she was willing to do for me that might make me choose Lowe's over HomeDepot. She obliged with an additional 10% off.
  • Lowe's is Close - It is easy to jump in the car, drive and few minutes, and order some windows.
  • Thermal Efficiency - These windows seems to keep the house cooler.
  • Operation - The windows open and close very nicely.
Con's
  • Bad Seems - The weld joints on the Pella windows look sloppy. The inside track corners had inch long pieces of vinyl scrap that required removal on almost every window. In addition, the welded joints protrude quite a bit. I'm considering shaving them down with a razor blade. The seems at the corners of the flange and frame did not form nice right angles. I may have to go into more detail on this aspect and the issue it presents later.
  • Apparently Sloppy Construction - In between the two panes of glass is a silvery aluminum track that is approximately 1/2 an inch thick. A grey 'putty' is installed to cover the track, at least most of the track. In many of the windows it looks like the roll of putty ran out and the factory worker decided to move on to a new window and not finish the job. On the other hand, the head and sill of the frame contains a couple screws which fasten the cross brace in the middle of the window. Silicon is squirted in the hole prior to seal the connection. In a few of the windows, it looks like the worker just missed the hole entirely.
  • Screen Components Break Easily - Prior to installation, I removed the screens. While removing one of the screens, the corner plastic piece that holds the frame sides together broke in half. I have removed screens before. I was not doing anything crazy or torquing the screen haphazardly.
  • Weak Latches - None of them have broken. I just get the sense that I had better lock or unlock the windows gingerly otherwise suffer a broken latch. That's all.
  • Lowe's Service - I picked up the windows myself rather than spending $65 for delivery. It took over an hour for them to get the order from the back up to the front of the store. I did a little shopping, used the restroom, and stood impatiently at the customer service desk to find out that they had only mustered up 8 of the 9 windows in the past hour. To make a long story short, they found the last window, but the order was 6 rolls of tape short. Lame. The 10% off I was getting kept me from complaining.
I spent approximately $2000 for 9 of these windows including flat trim, tape, and tax. I am installing them myself. I'll follow up with information pertaining to the install.

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