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"Who should I call to replace broken glass in an existing window?"
First, check with the window manufacturer to see if the repair can be covered under warranty, especially if the window is less than 5 years old. If it is not covered, contact a licensed window professional who can replace the broken glass. It is also possible to DIY a window glass replacement, but make sure you know how to safely replace the glass before taking on the project.
"What are the most common choices for replacement window glass?"
The choice you make will depend on considerations including: the appearance and style of adjacent windows, safety in case of broken glass, energy efficiency, local weather, intruder protection and budget.
Standard Glass Standard glass windows are now used mainly for replacing older windows (when matching the appearance of adjacent panes is important). Types include:
Float Glass: common, colorless, untreated. Almost all window glass starts out as float glass.
Annealed: slightly stronger than float glass.
Heat Strengthened: slightly stronger than annealed glass. Float glass, annealed and heat strengthened glass will all produce sharp pieces when broken.
Insulated Glass Insulated glass windows are designed with energy efficiency in mind. They can be made with two, three or even four panes of glass with transparent gas inside (usually argon), to maximize insulation capabilities. Insulated glass may be laminated or tempered for extra strength.
Low-E Glass Not all insulated glass is Low-E. Low-Emissivity glass has a special coating that filters out infrared and UV light, while letting normal light enter. This greatly improves insulation, and reduces UV fading of rugs and furniture.
Laminated Glass, Laminated glass consists of two or more layers of glass fused together for greater safety. It is less likely than standard glass to break away from the window frame, and also offers greater sound insulation. Depending on how it's made, laminated glass may also offer UV protection, and can be tinted.
Impact Resistant Glass Impact resistant glass is laminated glass. The degree of impact resistance can vary, so it's best to speak with a window expert to make sure that your specific needs are being met.
"Can dual-pane glass be replaced or must I buy a new window?"
Dual-pane glass can be replaced. The work is best done by a professional. A technician will come to your home to record the window’s measurements, type and pane thickness. Once the replacement window is fabricated, the technician will return to install the new window glass.
"What is "Low-E"?"
Low-E stands for "low emissivity," and more specifically, low thermal emissivity: the amount of energy transferred through window glass.
On a warm day, normal windows absorb a lot of heat and then transmit that heat into the house, making a warm house warmer. On a cold night, warmth from inside the house is absorbed by the glass and transmitted outside. This is NOT efficient.
With Low-E windows, a transparent coating on the glass improves insulation, by limiting energy transfer. During warm weather, the coating reflects heat away from the house while still letting daylight inside. During cool weather, the coating helps keep heat inside the house. The result is a more energy-efficient home.
Additionally, Low-E windows reduce the infrared and UV rays that fade furniture and rug colors.
"What are U-values and R-values?"
U-values measure how effective windows are at retaining heat. U-value ratings usually range from 0.20 to 1.20 and the lower the number, the better the window is at keeping heat in.
R-values measure a window's thermal resistance. R-values are based on a set of standards enforced by the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) and range from 0.9 and 3.0. The higher the number, the better the window is at resisting heat.