Top 5 Vinyl Windows Problems and Solutions

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Apr 15, 2016

Mar 4, 2024

6 min read


If you’re considering the purchase of vinyl windows and have done any research on the web, you’ve probably come in contact with some discussion of the problems associated with vinyl windows. Vinyl windows are the number one choice for most manufacturers in Canada today because they provide good performance ratings for a relatively cheap manufacture cost. These windows are also lighter than wood or aluminum ones and are therefore easier to work with when it comes time to transport and install them. But like any material or product, vinyl windows have their own specific problems.The reality is that the vast majority of vinyl windows do not need repairs, but exceptions still happen.

In this post we will address five of the most common problems associated with vinyl window replacement. We will also take a look at what causes these problems and how you, the consumer, can avoid them. Because of the sheer volume of windows we’ve installed, we addressed almost every possible window and door issue there is. We also are having constant discussions with window and door manufacturers and installers across Canada, so we have intimate knowledge of the good, the bad, and the ugly of vinyl window replacement.

1. Sealed Unit (Glass) Failure – 3 potential problems

Problem: Pressure Cracks
Glass accounts roughly for 70% of the window surface area, Canadian weather is notorious for having big temperature swings of 10 degrees Celsius over a course of several hours, this may cause the glass to contract and expand rapidly which may trigger it to crack.

The sealed unit can be replaced with an exact model as the old one. Usually, within the first year of the window installation, this issue will be covered by warranty including the window sealed unit and labor.

An insulated glass unit with a pressure crack. Pressure cracks often happen when the temperature changes quickly.

Problem: Sealed Unit Failure
This less common problem occurs when the unit is compromised and lets the Argon Gas (which is a common gas that is inserted between the glass layers in order to lower the amount of heat transferred through the window) escape causing condensation from the inside between the glass panes and obstruction of vision.

Granted that this instance is rare but does happen, most window companies offer a lifetime warranty on failed sealed units. In many cases, the glass will be supplied free of charge and the homeowner might be liable for the labor charge. Usually, within the first year of the window installation, this issue will be covered by warranty including glass and labor.


Problem: Physical Damage
Physical damage usually is caused by unfortunate events such as a rock flying up and hitting the glass area or improper operation of the window sash (mostly slamming).

The sealed unit can be replaced with an exact model as the old one, but the Homeowners will be liable for glass and labor charges.

Some window companies actually offer breakage warranty, but from our experience, the homeowner is still liable for labor charge, which can actually cost as much as replacing them both. So beware of glass breakage warranty.

2. Stripped Cranks

Casement and awning windows are the preferred choices for energy efficient window style. The problem arises when the crank handle is over tightened in order to bring the sash closer to the window frame to tightly seal the window with the multi-point locking mechanism. What all this means is that the homeowner assumes that the tighter she/he tightens the handle the tighter the window will be. This is not the case.

There is a simple solution for this problem: do not over tighten the crank handle when the sash meets the window frame, leave a small gap in order for the multipoint mechanism to do its job and pull the sash closer to the window for a tight seal.

With the window in the open position, make sure the locking lever on the side frame is in the open position as well. The best indicator of this is the The handle will be facing upwards
Fig. 1
Fig. 2 Once you are sure that the locking lever is in the open position, start turning the crank slowly to pull the sash into the frame. DO NOT pull the sash tight to the frame with the crank. Leave a .” (5mm) gap between the sash and frame (fig. 1). At this point, use the locking lever to finish pulling the sash in tight to the frame (fig. 2).

3. Broken Tilt Pins on Hung and Slider Windows

Tilt and turn windows have small tilt latches on the top and bottom of the window, these latches are made of plastic and contain a loaded spring inside, when the sash is tilted to the room and slammed back to place these latches can break, which causes the window sash not to fixate properly on the railing.

Proper operation; gently snapping back the window sash in its place should keep the window pins in good condition for many years to come.

Thumb latch inside the sash frame

4. Old Weather-stripping

Pile weather-stripping on slider, hung and hopper windows. Excessive operation of these windows might cause the weather-stripping to waer out, which will cause windows to allow more air leakage, and drafts.

Pile weather-stripping is relatively easy to replace. Sliding window have channels on the outside perimeter of the windows where the weather-stripping slides, all you need to do is use hand snips to pry, then remove existing weather-stripping, and then roll in the new weather-stripping instead.


5. Push Down Screen Broken Spring Pins

On a pushdown screen, there are 4 holding points. Two on the top are fixed and two on the bottom are operable. They are made of plastic and contain loaded spring inside. Improper operation, installing the screen upside-down, can cause the loaded springs to break.

Proper operation, always make sure to check before installing the screen that the fixed holding points are at the top and then gently snap them back into place. This should keep the window pins in good condition for many years to come.

Push Down Screen

Check out these replacement window articles:
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See how the window replacement process works
Learn about our window installation methods

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