Experts In New And Replacement Windows

AMEK Construction has more than 16 years of experience working with Twin Cities homeowners, including helping them find the right replacement windows for their home.

AMEK also has earned a reputation for bringing new home improvement products to market, including fiberglass siding, solar shingles and composite windows from Andersen.

Contact AMEK today and learn for yourself how how they earned their reputation.
If you are considering replacement windows and like the price of vinyl and performance of wood? Check out Andersen's Series 100 line of composite windows.
If you are part of the big remodeling year expected in the Twin Cities consider adding new windows into the mix. Call 952-888-1200 for a free consultation.
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What does condensation or fogging mean on my windows?

Condensation or fogging on your home’s windows can be worrisome. Winter is a common trigger, but this window condensation issue can happen year-round. Understanding the mechanics of your home and windows can help eliminate or reduce the possible damage caused by chronic condensation.

Window Condensation Causes

There are a variety of factors that can cause condensation and foggy windows.

Ventilation & Airflow 

“Homeowners often don’t realize how important ventilation and airflow are in a home.”  ~ Paul Schmidt

“Homeowners often don’t realize how important ventilation and airflow are in a home,” said AMEK Exteriors co-owner Paul Schmidt. Ventilation throughout the home including the attic and basement are critical to the home’s “well being”. In addition, double-pane and triple-pane windows can minimize condensation issues, but they can still happen because it’s usually not the window itself causing the problem.

Window Condensation AMEK Exteriors Fogging
Example of window condensation. Photo by AMEK Exteriors.

It mostly comes down to moisture levels and air movement. Keeping the balance between air temperature and humidity levels can be challenging. You might see signs that adjustments (throughout the year) need to be made if you are starting to see condensation form on the windows.

Air Temperature Differences

Colder air generally can’t hold as much moisture. Extreme temperature differences can set up a greenhouse effect – below zero temperatures outside with temperatures 70 degrees or warmer on the inside. The air next to the window glass cools down causing it to form water droplets. This is known as the dew point.

Seasonal Changes

Close-up image of window condensation.
Close-up of window condensation forming caused by improper moisture balance. Photo by AMEK Exteriors

Sometimes, condensation is short-term like when the seasons change and you close up the house and turn on the furnace or air conditioner. A new home or one that has had extensive remodeling can have extra moisture as the building materials like concrete, carpet, sheetrock and wood dry out.

Window Rot – Hidden Damage

Condensation that happens regularly and for a lengthy period of time can deteriorate window frames and can cause major rotting around windows and doors which can lead to widespread development of mold and related health impacts plus compromised structural integrity from rotted wood.

“We’ve seen an increase in moisture issues caused by improper installation of windows and improper design of ventilation systems.”  ~ Paul Schmidt

“We’ve seen an increase in moisture issues caused by improper installation of windows and improper design of ventilation systems,” said Paul who specializes in fixing construction defects. “Condensation on your windows might just be your first visible warning sign something isn’t right.”

Window condensation that has started to impact wood window frame. Photo by AMEK Exteriors
Window condensation that has started to impact wood window frame. Photo by AMEK Exteriors

Common remediation repairs can involve removing windows and examining them to see if they can be reused or if new windows are required. In addition, the surrounding wall framing may need to be replaced if it’s rotted. The critical component is using the correct installation techniques when putting the window and wall back together to prevent future issues.

Window Condensation Issues in New Homes

Occasionally, you may experience condensation on windows in your new home. Not to worry. This can be a common problem and caused by:

  • Airtight energy efficiency
  • No or uncalibrated ventilation system
  • Change of seasons
  • New products drying out

Because newer homes are becoming more airtight and energy efficient, there is less airflow through gaps like there used to be. To give your home “an adjustment”, opening a door or window for 15 to 20 minutes occasionally can help equalize the moisture levels and provide some needed fresh air providing the relative humidity outside is less than the relative humidity inside.

“On new homes, it’s really important to integrate a ventilation system into the home’s building envelope.”  ~ Paul Schmidt

“On new homes, it’s really important to integrate a ventilation system into the home’s building envelope, so we install a heat recovery ventilator or a energy recovery ventilator to make sure there is a regular exchange of fresh air and prevent excessive moisture issues like window condensation,” Paul says.

When It’s Time To Replace Your Windows

Another problem can occur when window seals have failed and the condensation is happening between the window panes. This fogging can happen if the windows are old and need to be replaced or if the windows were improperly made or installed. This problem isn’t as detrimental as condensation issues. Windows with this issue may not be as effective and look unsightly. Check to see if the window’s warranty has expired to see if you can get it fixed or replaced. If under warranty, the manufacturer will provide the glass for free, but you have to pay a professional to install it or do it on your own.

Reducing Window Condensation At Home

So what are some situations and how can they be altered to be balanced out to reduce window condensation?

  • Over-active humidifier

    Perhaps, the humidifier is set too high for the capacity of what the air can hold based on the temperature, so try reducing the humidifier setting and see if that helps.

  • Closed blinds or curtains

    Closing curtains or blinds can also disrupt the airflow to the windows causing condensation – leaving a larger gap at the bottom or side of the curtain or blind is all it takes to clear up the problem.

  • Extra guests taking showers

    Having extra people in the house taking showers or doing laundry can be enough to change the humidity level in the house especially in the winter when windows would be closed not allowing some moisture to escape. Turn on the bathroom fan or leave a window open afterward for a couple minutes.

  • Additional cooking

    Same goes with doing additional cooking without the exhaust fan going.

If trying these tactics to clear condensation doesn’t work, It may be time to call the professionals. Contact AMEK Exteriors for further help in identifying causes and solutions to your window condensation challenges.

Apex Siding discontinued, James Hardie or LP SmartSide solid choices

Despite its numerous strengths, fiberglass siding from Apex, a product we had recommended and installed, was discontinued in the spring of 2015. There are two other products AMEK Exteriors continues to rank as in the top tier of long-lasting siding with superior appearance. Depending on your requirements and your budget, either choice will be a solid exterior siding decision. Here are some considerations for fiber cement vs. engineered wood.

Fiber cement siding which is created from a wood pulp and Portland cement combination is known for its resistance to rot, pest damage from termites and woodpeckers,and fire plus its longevity. Another feature is the minimal maintenance. Some fiber cement products are offered in a range of pre-finished colors while others can be painted with your own color of choice. Paint lasts much longer – 15 years vs. 5 years – which give homeowners the choice to change the color of the home without the worries of frequent paint jobs.

James Hardie Fiber Cement Lap Siding by AMEK

AMEK Exteriors regularly uses fiber cement products from James Hardie on their projects. James Hardie offers a long warranty on their products. According to Paul Schmidt, co-owner of AMEK Exteriors, “James Hardie is the best in the industry for their commitment to quality and service. They have a 30-year warranty on their products which is outstanding.”

James Hardie Lap Siding integrated with Marvin windows by AMEK

Fiber cement siding installation does need skilled people who have the proper tools and who know how to correctly integrate the siding with windows, roof lines, and foundations. “I appreciate James Hardie because they provide installation guidelines and on-site training for our crews,” said Schmidt. “It’s critical that any siding is installed correctly to prevent future water intrusion issues, so I appreciate the dedication that James Hardie has to making sure that contractors know the proper installation methods.”

The appearance of fiber cement is realistic with possibilities of wood grain, cedar shakes, stucco, brick and stone. There is also a wide range of widths and lengths of boards. These options allow for a myriad of design possibilities giving homeowners custom looks from historical renovations to modern elements.

Another solid option is engineered wood. It’s like wood but with superhero characteristics. Formed out of real wood and resin, engineered wood has the advantages of being stronger and more durable. This strength helps it fend off moisture and pests like woodpeckers and carpenter ants plus isn’t easily impacted by rocks or balls hitting it.

Most engineered wood is easier to install because of the tools required and because of the longer pieces available which reduces the number of seams needed. However, trained installers are still vital to making sure manufacturer’s instructions are followed for seams, flashing, and end pieces.

LP SmartSide Siding installed on a Mendota Heights home by AMEK

LP SmartSide has been incorporated into many AMEK Exteriors projects because of its lasting beautiful curb appeal backed by 50-year limited warranty LP SmartSide is available in a large array of colors and textures with matching trim pieces.

AMEK Exteriors is known for its distinctive exterior design, its construction defect knowledge, and its use of quality materials and craftspeople to give homeowners exceptional projects. In 2016, an AMEK Exteriors’ Minneapolis exterior project was

James Hardie Siding on AMEK’s Award-winning Minneapolis Home

presented the National Contractor of the Year (CotY) Award by the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI), the Remodeler of Merit Award (ROMA) from the Builders Association of the Twin Cities (BATC), and the Gold Design Award from the Professional Remodeler Magazine.

Minneapolis CotY Award Winner 2015

Minneapolis-Contractor-of-the-year
Owner Paul Schmidt, Field Manager Jim Hansel, Painter Tony Rodriguez, Owner Matt Schmidt

An exterior design and renovation project in Minneapolis recently earned a 2015 Contractor of the Year (CotY) award from the National Association of Remodeling Industry – Minnesota Chapter. The CotY recognizes excellence in remodeling projects.

Led by AMEK owner Paul Schmidt and field manager Jim Hansel CRPM, the exterior design project began with the challenge of doing extensive remediation construction work before beginning the exterior design makeover. Due to the improper installation of a second story in the 1980s, water was trapped inside the walls which caused large-scale rot and mold. Once the removal and repair work was done, the transformation could begin to create a modern appearance with an accent of warmth.

More pictures & information here.

Fall Caulking Worth the Effort – IF Done Correctly

Caulking in the fall as part of your winter preparations can protect your home from long-term, internal damage. While caulking isn’t an activity most homeowners look forward to, it can help seal gaps where water and snow can seep in.  Caulking should be deliberate and done within certain temperature ranges.

“A good caulk job is inexpensive, easy to do, and provides valuable results,” according to Paul Schmidt, one of AMEK’s co-owners who specializes in exterior projects.Window Caulking

If you notice rot or discolored areas under windows or doors, there’s a good chance you have a problem with how the exterior cladding system has been integrated together.  If installed properly, the siding, stucco, or stone/brick should work together with windows and doors to shed water and moisture.  Some of this actually occurs behind the siding or stucco and around windows and doors if flashing is done properly.  When, the water gets trapped, it can deteriorate the studs, sill plates, and insulation between your walls, attic and floors causing structural damage and mold which can impact your family’s health.

Because caulking is part of this integrated system, where and how you caulk is important.

“Contrary to what most people think, caulking should not usually be applied over any horizontal plane such as the top of a window or door – if the flashing is placed correctly at that intersection,” said Paul.  “Caulking should be done at the corners and the sides of windows, doors, chimneys etc. to prevent water from going behind those seams.”

Caulking Correctly Omitted
Caulking Correctly Omitted

Ideally, there should be a slight gap between two surfaces for the caulk to “fit into” to help seal.  “It’s important to have this gap filled with caulk because it helps adjust for the varying expansion and contraction rates of the two abutting surfaces (i.e. brick & siding or vinyl & stucco),” Paul noted.

Here’s some information and tips to help guide you.

  1. For outdoor use, select a caulk that is made out of polyurethane or silicone (not paintable) and the color that best matches – white, tan, black, clear – the area you are caulking.  If you don’t have a good caulking gun, purchase a new one.
  2. Optimum temperatures to do exterior caulking is above 50 degrees
  3. Remove old caulk and clean off residue
  4. Use an utility knife to tip at an angle.
  5. Have a damp towel or rag nearby.
  6. Use tape if desired for clean edges
  7. Caulk vertical surfaces from the top down.
  8. Keep caulking gun at a 45-degree angle when possible.
  9. If you mess up, let it dry a bit until it’s tacky and then remove and retry.

If you decide caulking is out of your realm, consider hiring a company who specializes in caulking or someone who is skilled at it.  “Paying someone is a worthwhile investment rather than ignoring it since water intrusion can cause significant damage” said Paul.  “Caulking isn’t a cure-all either if water has penetrated the home’s exterior envelope repeatedly over time.”

If water intrusion is suspected, consider calling AMEK or a moisture testing company to evaluate your home.  The longer homeowners wait to address the issue, the more significant and extensive the damage can be.

“I’ve worked on homes with damage from several thousand dollars to over a $100,000 because there were breakdowns in how the exterior cladding was integrated,” Paul said.

To learn about how your home’s envelope works, check this link out:

https://mn.gov/commerce/energy/izmages/Building-Envelope-Guide.pdf

Outside Damage after Winter

Paul SchmidtPaul Schmidt was recently interviewed for the April/May issue of Midwest Home in the From the Expert section:

Q: After this harsh Midwest winter, is there anything I should look for as far as damage to the outside of my home?

A:The exterior components of our home work together as a cohesive shield to protect it against the elements. Water intrusion is a destructive force that can cause damage without ever being noticed. Walk around the exterior, looking for any holes in the “protective shield.” Look for any inconsistencies, including peeling paint, discoloration in caulking, rotted wood, rusted metals, or water stains. The majority of leaks occur at the joints and corners, in windows, doors or expansion points in external walls. A leak that isn’t caught quickly can cause serious damage, soaking into insulation and wood framing, often resulting in serious structural and indoor air quality issues. If you suspect water intrusion, we recommend a comprehensive forensic investigation by trained professionals.