The insured’s residence sustained hail damage during the storm on 5/11/16. The insurance company has already paid to have the roof, gutters, some deck boards, painting and one window to be replaced. There is a dispute as to the cause of the leaking from a kitchen window and failed seals in a basement window.
RESULTS OF INVESTIGATION
Double-pane windows have a space between the panes filled with air or inert gas. As the window is exposed to varying temperatures, the fill and the seal around it both expand and contract. On a daily basis, multi-pane windows are subjected to a range of weather conditions, primarily temperature changes. In the evening, the window components (including the gas between the panes of glass) lower in temperature. During the daytime, windows will increase in temperature, particularly those exposed to direct sunlight. Like any material, the trapped gas will expand when heated. This leads to a daily cycling of pressures within the window unit. In the industry this phenomenon is referred to as solar or thermal pumping.
Eventually this causes the seal to break down, letting in outside air and, with it, moisture. Over time, as the seals deteriorate, thermal pumping stresses the seals between the glass. Eventually small fractures will develop and grow. These fractures allow increasing amounts of infiltration and exfiltration of air between the panes. Manufacturers recognize and expect this to eventually occur. In addition to the seal, some manufacturers also add a desiccant between the glass panes. The desiccant will mitigate any moisture that finds its way into the window. However, the desiccant is limited and eventually it will become saturated, allowing moisture to condense on the inside of the panes.
This phenomena will eventually occur in any window. Double-pane windows typically can last 8 to 20 years
Wood is naturally very thermally efficient, and it’s easy to work with, which makes it easier to find custom shapes. Maintenance is the greatest downside with wood windows because they require painting and sealing. It is apparent from the peeling paint, these wood frames have not been maintained properly.
Time since the storm and the extent of the fogging can provide good insight as to whether or not a storm was related. After a seal has failed, it takes time for moist air to enter the space between the glass panes. Further, the development of condensation is dependent on the presence of moist air. Once moist air has entered the space between panes, there is a progression of fogging. It begins as light translucent condensation, progresses as mist with water droplets, and finally becomes a thick opaque white haze as the water evaporates and condenses repeatedly, leaving the minerals in the water behind. Note that this process takes a long time.
Based on the preponderance of evidence observed during our investigation, the following concluding opinions are warranted: