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Tech Talk Tuesday

15 Mar

SAFETY GLASS – COMMON MISTAKES

The most common variations are still due to safety glazing because there are so many places it can go awry.

The need for safety glass should be checked for at least three times. Once at sales, once at survey and finally at installation. Below are the top six most common mistakes made:

  1. Next to doors – The surveyor may not note on the survey that a window next to a door needs safety glass because the factory will pick up it is a door combination. However during order processing doors and windows sometimes get spilt up and that flag window is suddenly just a window…
  2. Bathrooms – Any bath or shower tray below the window becomes the finished floor level – so measure from inside that not from the floor. Also, if the window change is part of a refurbishment of a bathroom ask if a bath or shower will be under the window. Remember it is considered good practice to fit safety glass in bathrooms even if the windows are outside critical locations.
  3. Outside floor level – The measurement of 800mm from floor level or 1500mm when within 300mm of a door is taken from inside and outside. If the glass is below these levels on either side then it is critical and needs to be safety glass. Cellar windows are commonly missed as they are at head height inside but ankle height outside.
  4. Damaged units – Scratched and damaged units are spotted by the fitter and sizes for a replacement called in. A new unit is made but the safety aspect has been missed and annealed glass is installed in a critical area.
  5. Units the same size – Often there are two units that are the same size but one is safety glass and the other isn’t. Its easy to switch them by mistake. Some IGU manufactures are trying to combat this using different coloured tape or labels for their toughened units.
  6. Window seats – Any fixed furniture in front of a window will be considered the floor level so when surveying watch for these and call up the appropriate glass.

Choosing Your Windows

23 Aug

One of the most important things to consider when you decide to replace your old windows is which type of window to choose. There are many different styles of double glazed windows to suit our many styles of property. In this blog post we will just tell you about some of the different types so you can make an informed decision.

  • One type of window is the casement window. These tend to suit larger properties as they are hinged rather like a door and can open inwards or out away from the property. They let in a lot of light and are very versatile.
  • Tilt and Turn windows are another flexible alternative. As the name suggests this type of window can be opened from the side as a traditional window but also from the top. This makes them popular with families as they open more safely but there is still a nice through draught in hot weather. Oh and they also make window cleaning much easier!
  • If you have an older style property you will find the next type of window of great interest. Georgian Bar windows resemble the windows that were seen on Georgian properties. This makes them perfect for older properties making the seamless match with modern technology but still in keeping with the distinctive look of the property.
  • A very traditional style of window is the sash window. These windows open with one or two glazed panels that slide up and down vertically with the use of weights and pulleys. These were very popular in the Georgian and Victorian eras. The original windows were prone to rot and rattling in the wind but with the advent of modern double glazed windows, it is possible to have them installed in your property and still retain the look of traditional sash windows. You can even have them with the weight and pulley system.

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Ok let’s look at another factor which needs to be considered in your choice of double glazed windows. What sort of frame do you want your windows to sit in?

Basically there are three types of frame:

PVCu or UPVC

  • PVC frames are very popular for a number of reasons. They are usually the lowest cost option, provide good insulation and there is little maintenance required. An added bonus is that the frames are available in different colours including ones that resemble wood grain. They are not the strongest frames and can sometimes be reinforced with galvanised steel when necessary.

Timber

  • Timber frames can be very expensive as they are made from varieties of hardwood such as tropical mahoganies and European oak, beech and ash. They provide great insulation as wood is a low thermal conductor. Timber frames give your property a lovely traditional look but do require a high level of maintenance. Bear that in mind if you choose these frames and don’t like DIY!

Aluminium Frame

  • Aluminium frames were very popular when double glazing began to appear in the sixties and seventies. They are very strong and require very little maintenance. They are very long lasting and are particularly suitable for areas in strong sunlight or where there is a lot of wet weather. To improve their insulation a thermal break is incorporated between the frame and the double glazed window. This is insulating material that stops heat being lost from the room to the outside and cold air from entering the room.

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You might wish to take some advice on your window choices from your FENSA installer. They are the experts and will be able to advise you on the best choice of windows for your property.

Thinking of new windows? What you need to know

28 Jun

Thinking of new windows? Are you dreaming of having no draughts, not hearing next doors music at all hours, feeling warm and cosy and saving money on your energy bills? Yes, then you must be dreaming of replacement double glazed windows!

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Well let’s hope your dreams come true but wait a minute aren’t there some important issues to consider? With any long term major investment in your property a degree of research and investigation is always prudent.

Did you know since 2002 the government requires that any replacement glazing installed since April 2002 must comply with building regulations. So you can’t just fit any old windows, they have to conform to current thermal performance standards. Now that may sound a bit confusing and worrying so to be sure it can be a good idea to take advice from a FENSA registered installer. They are the experts and know what they are talking about. You can trust their advice.

Once you have decided on your windows, how will you have them fitted? You don’t have to have them installed by a FENSA Fitter but the beauty of the scheme is its simplicity. Your windows are fitted and you can be sure they are compliant and you get a certificate to prove it. This certificate is essential if at some point you intend to sell your property as your purchaser’s solicitor will ask for it. So that’s another worry sorted out.

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Of course you can have them fitted by a non registered company but then you will have to arrange for Building Control to visit and inspect them. This can be a nuisance timing the visit and there will be a charge which varies depending on which local authority you are in.

It may be a good idea at this point to mention the Government’s new initiative, The Green Deal, which can provide a way to finance the new windows. You can learn more about the Green Deal in a previous blog ‘The Green Deal and the consumer’

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It is always a good idea to take your time and not rush in to making your decisions. That way you can be sure to avoid getting tangled up with a Rogue Trader. There are plenty of them out there which is why FENSA Fitters are vetted at the start of their registration and continually assessed to ensure standards are met.

So some things there to think about before you take the plunge. Please feel free to ask questions below or check out our Homeowner Info section on the website.

Doors, an open and shut case!

28 Jun

There often seems to be a bit of confusion surrounding replacement doors so we thought we would try and clarify the details in case you are looking to replace the doors in your house.

Since the government extended Building Regulations to cover all replacement glazing in April 2002, as with replacement double glazed windows, replacement doors with at least 50% glazing need certification. Doors with less than 50% glazing do not require certification.

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However if the doors are in conservatories, porches, commercial premises or new build properties or extensions they do not come under the FENSA remit, so they would have to be assessed by the local authority building control process. A FENSA certificate would not be issued in this instance.

Another consideration is where is the door located?

Both windows and doors in critical locations need special attention. A critical location is somewhere a person could have an accident and fall through. To protect everybody and prevent this happening, there are specific regulations to be followed.

If the glass in the door comes within 1500mm of the floor level to the start of the glass, it must be safety glass. This is glass that has been toughened or laminated and will include the relevant safety mark. This safety mark should be clearly visible.

What about single glazed doors? Again this is a safety issue and the simple answer is that single glazed doors will not pass building regulations.

There is some great information on external windows and doors on the government’s online Planning Portal website.

To ensure all the measures are met it is wise to use a registered installer such as a FENSA Fitter who has been approved to carry out the work to comply with Building Regulations. Once the work is completed a FENSA certificate will be issued so you can rest assured the door has been fitted safely and with the correct specifications. You also do not have to have an inspection from your local building control as your certificate acts as proof your new door complies with building regulations.

A potted history of FENSA

26 Jun

Let’s start with a breakdown of the name. It is actually an acronym for the Fenestration Self-Assessment Scheme. The word fenestration comes from the Latin ‘fenestra’ which literally means an opening in a building. So fenestration covers windows and doors.

 

FENSA came into being as a result of a change in building regulations in April 2002.  To improve energy efficiency, the government extended building regulations to include replacement glazing and door installations in domestic properties. You will remember from previous blog posts how an enormous amount of heat is lost from the home through our windows. So it made sense to try and prevent that heat loss by ensuring our windows and doors are more energy efficient.

 

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As with all good ideas, there needed to be a plan put in place to achieve an efficient system.  The Local Authority Building Control would not be able to cope with checking the millions of installations that take place every year. The process would end up being very time consuming for everyone involved.

There had to be another way of checking that the installations did indeed meet the new building regulations.

 

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This is where FENSA came in.   The Glass and Glazing Federation  (GGF) set up FENSA to allow registered installers to self-certify their work conforms to the building regulations and prevent a huge bottleneck of installations waiting to be checked by the Local Authority. Of course each installer has to meet certain requirements and is continually monitored to ensure compliance with building regulations. We have a whole section on our website about how the FENSA scheme works.

 

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Since its establishment in 2002, FENSA has issued over 9 million window and door homeowner certificates and is the recognised double glazing industry leader. One of the more recent ways that we have been helping consumers include our consumer question times that we have been running on our Twitter account. If you want to ask a question or see what others are asking, you can do so here, or check on Twitter for details of our next question time.

 

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FENSA recently celebrated its 10th successful year and continues to move forward.

The art of cleaning windows

25 Jan

Have you ever wondered how very tall buildings get their windows cleaned? Discover the art and dangers of modern-day window cleaning in our guest blog for Local Traders. Prepare to be amazed! Here is a link to the blog! http://www.localtraders.com/tradesmen/blog/the-art-of-cleaning-windows-3766/

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The Evolution of the Window

30 Nov

Here at FENSA we are all about Double Glazing. In fact, we recently wrote a blog post on how a double glazed window is made and so decided for this blog post, we would go back in time and investigate: The Evolution of the Window….

As you can imagine, the earliest windows were just holes in a wall. This of course was very unsatisfactory, letting in the wind and the rain, so they became covered with animal hide, cloth, or wood to keep out the weather.

Not content with that, windows were vastly improved when wooden shutters were added that could be opened and closed. These windows, however, were either open or shut and when shut all the incoming light was lost. To alleviate this problem, windows were developed that kept the weather out but let the light in.

These included; paper windows, flattened pieces of translucent animal horn, and even plates of thinly sliced marble. Pretty inventive!

However, as you probably suspected, it was the Romans who were the first to use glass for windows in the mid first century. Whereas in England, it wasn’t until the late 17th century that glass became affordable enough to appear in the windows on a universal scale. This led to all sorts of windows being designed. The sash, casement, awning, tilt and turn, transom, louvered and skylight to name but a few!

 

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The windows we know today are only possible because of the modern way of making glass. This means they can be glazed with one large sheet of glass. Before this windows had to be glazed with smaller panes separated by glazing bars or “muntins” as they were not able to make large pieces of glass.

So from a very humble beginning as a hole in a wall, windows have evolved in to the wonderful double glazed windows of today that we take for granted in our homes and offices!

If you would like to know a double glazed window is made, just take a look at our previous blog