Fairway Meadows Melted Siding History
Fairway Meadows Community – a History of Melted Siding 2015.05.26
THE REAL PROBLEM
The purpose of this website – and of this document – is to help people with the problem of melting siding. The window manufacturer will tell you that the problem is caused by Low-E windows, and there is nothing they can do about it. That is NOT TRUE. The problem is caused by windows that are NOT FLAT, and form a magnifying glass, reflecting sunlight onto siding and lawn and furniture. This is dangerous. Before you or your builder or windows company install any window, you must check that it is perfectly FLAT – otherwise reject it. The rest of this document is the history of how we discovered this.
We have also determined that the windows do not collapse later – another claim made by all parties. They are delivered that way. We have installed flat windows to replace all of our problem ones, and none of the replacement windows have caused any problem over many years of history.
Our community consists of 111 detached townhomes, built on a hillside in the lovely town of Woodbury MN. Being built on the side of a modest hill makes for an attractive community, but it also means that a lot of our windows shine some reflected sunlight on neighbors' houses. And, we have painfully discovered, most windows, as delivered from the manufacturer, have a slight defect. The windows in question are thermal pane, two sheets of glass with an air gap for insulation, and they are coated to reflect some of the summer heat away from the house. That’s called Low-E. But many of the windows as delivered and installed are not flat!
Windows are Not FLAT
When the windows are not perfectly flat, and the outer pane of glass collapses ever so slightly, that pane of glass forms a concave shape, which reflects sunlight and focuses it as though it were a magnifying glass. The resulting sunlight can cause the material on which it falls to reach a temperature over 200 degrees. This temperature melts most vinyl siding, and will set fire to the fabric on porch furniture. When one home is lower than a neighbor’s, or a part of a house extends out so that a window reflects on it – the sun melts the vinyl siding. The result looks like someone took a waffle iron to the wall. This is a problem from the way the glass is manufactured. We have learned from experience that once a FLAT pane of glass is installed, it does NOT COLLAPSE. Some of the windows vendors claim that the defect occurs after the glass is installed. That is not true. We have over a hundred windows that were replaced because they were not flat, and none of the replacements have had the problem, over multiple years.
Implied Warranty of Fitness for a Particular Purpose
It is our contention that these Windows carry an implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose.
The purpose of a window is to provide light to the interior, and keep out rain and cold. But it should be able to be used without causing serious harm to a neighbor – their siding, lawn furniture, and grass. These defective windows can easily generate temperatures in excess of 200 degrees, and are, in fact, hazardous to health and safety, as well as the property values of neighbors. If I sold you a flag which you wanted to use to express your patriotism by flying it in front of your house, but then you discovered that the flag contained asbestos fibers which polluted the air in your vicinity, causing cancer for all of your neighbors, one would say that the flag was defective. These windows are defective.
How To Fix The Problem
We have a long history with these windows. We have discovered that most of the windows supplied by our vendor are collapsed and act as a magnifying glass. But we have also found that if we consistently reject those as defective, the supplier will eventually deliver flat sheets of glass. These replacement flat panes of glass have now been in place of many years, and they have not caused a problem. It is possible to measure a window before installing it to determine whether it is flat.
The window and pane manufacturers have been alerted to the nature of this problem, but they have consistently claimed that the resulting melted siding is NOT their problem. Since we know they can manufacture a flat sheet of glass, we have been asking them to deliver that quality of product in the future. We would love them to replace the faulty windows AND the damaged siding, but that appears to be a bridge too far for their legal departments to cross. They insist that the sole problem is either the quality of the vinyl siding, or the reflective increase because of the thermal characteristics of the glass. It is simply that the glass is NOT FLAT. And we know they can fix that, because they deliver flat glass when we demand it.
· 2008.04 11 Units
Initially we had 11 homes with melted siding. We contacted our builder, Pulte Homes, and they agreed to inspect the problem. The primary problem appeared when a two story home was built up the hill from another one. The windows higher up the hill, during certain times of the year, caused the sunlight to be reflected on the home below. When one stands in that reflected light, it is very clear that the heat is sufficient to burn skin, as well as melt siding.
Pulte ordered replacement windows and siding. These were installed, but the identical problem occurred the subsequent year.
· 2009.07 29 Homes Affected
This year, the total was 29 homes with melted siding. We had many new ones, plus the repaired ones.
· 2009.10.26 Pulte at this point enlisted some other experts and determined that the new windows continued to have the problem of the prior ones. At this point, they ordered new windows for just two of the homes as a trial, and verified that they were indeed flat before installing them. They rejected at least one order before they got a truly flat pane of glass.
· 2010.08 – 30 additional Units Affected.
Since the new windows did indeed solve the problem, Pulte undertook to repair all of the Units with the problem, using glass which they measured to ensure that it was indeed flat.
· 2013.07 – added 2 additional.
At this point, we added 2 additional homes, where the sun had required a bit longer time to create the problem. Pulte also agreed to repair these.
· 2013.09 – One more home added.
This home was one of the single story homes, where the side of the garage extended out from the front of the house, and the front window reflected only the setting sun onto the garage siding. This home is shown in the photo labeled: 10784 Thone Rd. Pulte at this point opted to not continue to pay for the repairs. Our Association paid $745 for the siding and window replacement. With a FLAT window.
· 2013.9 6 more homes.
At this time, we inspected as many other homes as possible. We found melted siding on another 6 homes, caused only by the setting summer sun. Since the damage is cosmetic only, and the siding is at the rear of the homes facing west, we determined that we did not want to repair these at this time. It is the identical problem – it just took longer to show up since the amount of sunlight exposure was small.
· 2014.07 – Replacement Windows Causing problems.
As some of our homes were nearing their 10 year warranty limit for the windows, some Owners contracted to have faulty windows replaced. In these windows the seal has broken, and the window was clouded. WeatherShield – the vendor in question – provided the replacement windows, but the owner must pay for installation. Unfortunately, it did not occur to us that these new windows might have the same problem. In one home, where two windows in a panel of three were replaced, the two new windows were indeed melting the neighbor’s siding. The original third window has never been a problem. It is flat.
In response, we have asked all members to not replace any windows, without first determining whether the new windows are indeed flat.
We asked the vendor, WeatherShield, to recognize that they are creating the problem by selling windows that are not flat. They do not actually manufacture the panes of glass, but they need to ensure that their supplier is able to make a FLAT window. They declined. We sued them in common pleas court, or conciliation court, for the cost to replace the windows and the siding. They gave us a less than great offer - and we eventually accepted it. They admit no liability - but we have several thousand dollars for our effort. We absorbed the difference. We had to agree to not pursue liability for any already installed windows. More problems have in fact surfaced, but they are modest.
We would also recommend that builders, especially Pulte, who seems to be getting into this more than most, to begin demanding FLAT panes of glass. They could save themselves a lot of trouble, if they would simply measure every pane of glass and reject them until they get a flat one. It would take a bit longer to build a house, but the warranty work and negative publicity would cease.
How To Determine if the Glass is FLAT
Our Pulte customer service person showed us the technique they used. They used a small handheld laser gadget to measure the space between the two panes of glass at the center, and then at the edges. If it differed significantly, then they rejected the window. They said that Cardinal Glass had pointed them to the measuring instrument.
A note to Cardinal Glass got a reply from their customer service, that the instrument we need is the airspace laser from a company called EDTM. The model number is MG 1500 and their website is www.EDTM.com.
It should be right here on this page: https://www.edtm.com/index.php/field-service-glass-thickness
Cardinal also said that they continually measure their product on the assembly lines, and they have no complaints about reflections from customers.
It appears that someone is still making these panes of glass without checking them for uniformity.
In our case, WeatherShield, while admitting no fault, agreed to pay for the new windows, and to replace the siding. AND they shipped us perfectly FLAT windows for the replacement. Interesting. Of course they did not pay everything we asked, even though it would have cost them more to have their lawyers defend this tiny lawsuit in small claims court. Justice was not served - but we are happy. To see all of the documents we filed with the case, see:
One of our contributors has also located an expert who will testify to the ability of the glass to set things on fire:
BUT . . .he does not point out in the article that the problem is not the reflective quality of the glass as much as it is that the glass is NOT FLAT. It might have helped others if the reporter had included that.