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Question for the DIY'ers
Old 08-15-2014, 10:51 AM   #1
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Question for the DIY'ers

Another question for the DIY'ers. Sorry in advance for an inadequate photo. This is a broken window pane on a door. It looks to me like a double pane glass. What makes this so difficult to repair, vs a single pane panel of glass?
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Old 08-15-2014, 10:59 AM   #2
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I've only replaced broken double-pane glass in double-hung windows.

In those cases, I needed to purchase the pre-assembled (and sealed) window unit from the window manufacturer...and then it was a fairly simply and straightforward process to remove and replace the window unit.


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Old 08-15-2014, 11:05 AM   #3
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What makes this so difficult to repair, vs a single pane panel of glass?
Each "light" in a conventional single pane door window would just have a single piece of glass, so just pry off the moulding on one side, remove the glass sheet, get some gazier's putty to put around the new sheet, and replace the moulding. The replacement glass is easily cut by you or the hardware store to just what you need in about 5 minutes.

But if it is double pane, then there are two ways it could be made:
- 9 Individual glass "glazing units", each with glass on each side with a hermetic seal, evacuated, filled with argon. You'd need to remove what is left of the old one and buy a replacement unit to go in the space.
- A single large double-paned unit with fake dividers (inside or outside) to make it look like 9 individual panes. In this case, the whole thing (approx 25" x 30", or whatever) needs to be replaced. And you need to find the right size piece and order it.

So, its a bit of a problem. Door glass gets broken a lot (elbow or package as door is opened, or by somebody trying to break in and reach the knob). It might be worth putting a thin piece of acrylic over the outside and inside after you make the glass repair to prevent at least an inadvertent re-break.
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Old 08-15-2014, 11:18 AM   #4
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It's really not that different than a single pane of glass, other than the fact you have to get a new double pane made.

There are probably a few strips of wood trim holding the window pane. Just order a new pane and put it in.
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Old 08-15-2014, 11:22 AM   #5
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But if it is double pane, then there are two ways it could be made:
- 9 Individual glass "glazing units", each with glass on each side with a hermetic seal, evacuated, filled with argon. You'd need to remove what is left of the old one and buy a replacement unit to go in the space.
I think it's the 9 individual units. Not my house, though, and not easy to query the residents.

So double pane isn't two independent pieces of glass, it's one sealed compartment. Is this unit much more difficult to install, compared with a single glass pane? The reason I ask this question is because, looking for someone to do the repair, already some handymen have declined, saying they only do single pane repairs.

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Originally Posted by samclem View Post
So, its a bit of a problem. Door glass gets broken a lot (elbow or package as door is opened, or by somebody trying to break in and reach the knob). It might be worth putting a thin piece of acrylic over the outside and inside after you make the glass repair to prevent at least an inadvertent re-break.
Interesting suggestion, worth pursuing. Thanks.

Edit: didn't see senator's post, but question remains on degree of difficulty.
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Old 08-15-2014, 03:30 PM   #6
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didn't see senator's post, but question remains on degree of difficulty.
I have replaced a double pane of glass on a sliding window. It was not difficult at all. There was a plastic strip of molding, like a beauty strip, that held the window in. It was then siliconed in place.

I took the rim off, and used a putty knife to loosen the silicone. Once the old window was out, just re-silicone and put the new one back in. Snap the beauty trim back on. Easy peasy.

Hardest part is getting the old window out. Next hardest is measuring correctly. You cannot just trim a small piece of glass off the edge to make it fit. Maybe the wood frame though.

Then, easiest part of putting the actual window in.

I suspect handyman people do not know where to get the glass, or just do not want to take a chance on damaging the frame when removing the old window.

Or, as I have found, many handymen only know how to paint and replace a light fixture...
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Old 08-15-2014, 03:41 PM   #7
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So double pane isn't two independent pieces of glass, it's one sealed compartment.
Yep, that's how they are made. If you crack just one side or the seal goes bad, then the ambient air, with its moisture, will eventually get in and the pane will fog up and gradually grow milky/translucent.

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Is this unit much more difficult to install, compared with a single glass pane?
I haven't done it, but I don't think its hard to do the actual installation. The hassle is getting the right replacement part. A glass shop could probably do it, but would charge you for time/labor to come out, measure, do the ordering, etc. If you know the brand and model of the door (check for a label on the hinge edge of the door), perhaps it would be possible to order the part from the manufacturer. Or, look online for a retailer of "insulated glazing units" or "insulated glass units" and see if they can be ordered directly with the right measurements (remove the trim from one side and measure the actual glazing unit that is broken). If this route is used, it's possible that the replacement light might not look identical to the others (different coating on the glass, different color of the internal seals, etc), but it should be pretty close.

Oh, the seals on all glazing units will eventually fail, or the dessicant that is built into many of them will get "used up". Shis should take decades for regular windows, but probably a lot less for a door (subject to breakage and banged about whenever the door shuts). So, if the cost for the replacement unit isn't much, consider buying more than one to have another on hand when the next one fails. I'd put it somewhere out of the way, then leave a small note to myself near the door ID label (where I'd look for the door info the next time this happens) showing the stock number of the replacement part and where I'd stored any extra ones I'd bought.
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Old 08-15-2014, 04:23 PM   #8
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I assume this is a nine-lite panel? I have one in my garage and there are screws on the inside to take the frame apart. It is unclear if I took it apart if there is one pane of glass with a faux-frame for the nine pieces or nine different panels. Since your's is broken - if there are screws you could take it apart to see.

What I would do is take some pictures and go to the lumber yard or glass shop and see if they can repair it. If they can, then schedule it for a nice day, take the door off the hinges, bring it in and have it fixed and then take it back and re-hang it.

Or order a new door to fit and send the old one to recycling.

Each option is a trade-off of convenience and cost.
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Old 08-15-2014, 04:31 PM   #9
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Or order a new door to fit and send the old one to recycling.
Have you had good luck with replacing a door slab? Maybe I'm atypical, but every time I try this it results in hours of shimming, planing, and frustration. Then the handset and deadbolt holes will be off by 1/4," leading to more chisel work and hate. But, my house is 50 years old: It is built well, but a lot of things aren't square anymore.

If I have the choice, I find it easier to buy a prehung door and replace the whole frame: Trim covers a lot of "inexactitude."
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Old 08-15-2014, 04:31 PM   #10
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Another question for the DIY'ers. Sorry in advance for an inadequate photo. This is a broken window pane on a door. It looks to me like a double pane glass. What makes this so difficult to repair, vs a single pane panel of glass?
I don't understand the apparent gap above the frame. What is that about?

It's possible the double pane is factory made, and has argon gas or similar in it. I think the time involved to order the glass, pay for it, and then install would be outside the job scope and profitability of a handyman.

There are specialized tools to rip out the sealant.

Edit: Now I see that the windows may extend upward another row. Also, looks like an older job, so the glass might not be safety.
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Old 08-15-2014, 05:01 PM   #11
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I'm not near enough to the location of the door to inspect it again, do a quick check, look for screws, etc. I've called a handyman in the area, he'll stop by Monday, look, and call me with a quote. The photo is a broken pane, bottom right. There are 3 rows of 3 panes. It will be costly for sure but I don't see any way to offset that.

Very helpful comments, thanks. Tip of the hat to Samclem.
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Old 08-15-2014, 09:48 PM   #12
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Yep, that's how they are made. If you crack just one side or the seal goes bad, then the ambient air, with its moisture, will eventually get in and the pane will fog up and gradually grow milky/translucent.


I haven't done it, but I don't think its hard to do the actual installation. The hassle is getting the right replacement part. A glass shop could probably do it, but would charge you for time/labor to come out, measure, do the ordering, etc. If you know the brand and model of the door (check for a label on the hinge edge of the door), perhaps it would be possible to order the part from the manufacturer. Or, look online for a retailer of "insulated glazing units" or "insulated glass units" and see if they can be ordered directly with the right measurements (remove the trim from one side and measure the actual glazing unit that is broken). If this route is used, it's possible that the replacement light might not look identical to the others (different coating on the glass, different color of the internal seals, etc), but it should be pretty close.

Oh, the seals on all glazing units will eventually fail, or the dessicant that is built into many of them will get "used up". Shis should take decades for regular windows, but probably a lot less for a door (subject to breakage and banged about whenever the door shuts). So, if the cost for the replacement unit isn't much, consider buying more than one to have another on hand when the next one fails. I'd put it somewhere out of the way, then leave a small note to myself near the door ID label (where I'd look for the door info the next time this happens) showing the stock number of the replacement part and where I'd stored any extra ones I'd bought.

We have this problem with one of our fixed vinyl framed windows. After about 7 years a haze started to form on the inside between the panes. I haven't done anything with it yet. It is especially noticeable when the sun hits it.

Can a window installed repair what it there by resealing it or will they have to place the whole window as a single unit?


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Old 08-15-2014, 10:08 PM   #13
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It will be costly for sure but I don't see any way to offset that.
When I ordered my window, which was about 24 x 24, it costs less than $25. It was two panes of glass, with a seal between them. There is likely a custom window show near you that makes these windows for window installers.

It took ~30 minutes to do the work. It would have cost over $200 for the window company that I got the glass from to do the work. It would have been like $140 just for the install.
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Old 08-15-2014, 10:34 PM   #14
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Can a window installed repair what it there by resealing it or will they have to place the whole window as a single unit?
The sealed glass unit can't be repaired in the field. It is not practical to re-seal it, and the water (and possibly dust,etc) that is visible to you is already in there and can't be removed. You'll need a replacement "insulated glazing unit" which is the two pieces of glass and the metal spacer and seals that you can see between them. The window itself (the frame, hardware, etc) doesn't get replaced, the new insulated glazing unit gets put back in your old window frame.

Check with the manufacturer of your windows, some have long warranties against failure of the seals. If the glass isn't broken, you might get a free replacement. For example, my vinyl-framed double-paned windows from Alside will be repaired for free if the hermetic seal in the glazing unit fails within the first 10 years (it steps down rapidly after that--at over 25 years old they only cover 10% of the cost).
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Old 08-15-2014, 11:27 PM   #15
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Thanks I am trying to figure who the manufacturer is. There is nothing on the frames to indicate the who made them. I talked with the general contractor who did our remodel at the time and he couldn't remember where he ordered. I might have a receipt stashed in a box somewhere. I found WinDor in SoCal and something clicked in the back of my head that they might be the ones. I will call them next week.


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Old 08-17-2014, 05:04 PM   #16
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The way the insulated units [glass] are set and held into the frame makes a big difference as to how much effort is required to make the swap.

What glazers call "dry glazed" involves neoprene gaskets that hold the glass and provide an air and water barrier at the same time. This method is used on aluminum windows and storefronts. An experienced hand could change a door glass in about 20 minutes if dry glazed.

Wood store doors and wood windows usually are "wet glazed" using butyl rubber sealant with an applied stop of the same window material. Cured butyl rubber is hell to cut and remove, and at the same time you must be very careful not to slip and damage the window frame or your hands. A 3 x7 glass entry door I repaired once took 4 hours to cut out and remove the debris in preparation for new glass. No surprise that a saavy handyman would back away from that.

[I have no experience with vinyl]
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