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Volume 6   Issue 11               December  2005

New Process Raises Industry Concern
by Ellen Giard and Sarah Batcheler

Glas-Weld Systems of Bend, Ore., and Crystal Clear Window Works USA LLP (CCWW) of Nashville, Tenn., have developed a strategic partnership under which the two companies will jointly market their glass-scratch removal and failed insulating glass (IG) repair services through an authorized dealer network.

Crystal Clear plans to appoint 250 dealerships in the United States over the next 12 months, and will offer its repair services for failed IG units. It reports that it has trained 15 U.S. dealers and has 70 parties interested in becoming CCWW-authorized dealers in the United States.

The company says it has a number of Tier 1 window companies who are looking at its service to alleviate some in-field warranty issues.

Glas-Weld will provide training services for dealers in a new 3,000-square-foot facility at its headquarters in Bend, Ore. Together, the two companies will market the business opportunity for authorized CCWW dealerships and provide training and certification. 

The Process
The CCWW IG repair process is designed to eliminate the moisture and subsequent fogging that occurs in defective thermal-pane windows with the ability to restore both optical clarity and R-value. According to CCWW, repair prices are generally half the cost of replacement for an IG unit. 

“By repairing windows rather than replacing them, we hope to keep as many windows out of our landfills as possible and reduce the out-of-pocket costs to consumers by 50 percent,” says Mike Boyle, president of Glas-Weld Systems Inc. “We are so confident in the process that the work is guaranteed for 20 years.”

The Crystal Clear process involves the installation of a patented Defogger valve. Sunlight increases pressure in the window by evaporating water droplets and the pressure expels water vapor through the valve, drying out the window. Once the water is gone, the Defogger valve becomes dormant, sealing the enclosed air space. In this state, the thermal R-value of the window is identical to any other window. The final product is a vented window that the company guarantees to not fail.

The Concerns
Not everyone, though, is confident about the new process. 

“It cannot expel moisture. It can, at best, equalize the moisture level inside the no longer sealed unit to the moisture level outside the unit,” says Randy Ernst, president of FDR Design Inc. of Buffalo, Minn.

CCWW made a presentation before the Insulating Glass Manu-facturers Alliance (IGMA) at the group’s meeting last year in Kissimmee, Fla. Executive director Margaret Webb says that there are “some concerns” about the process. 

“There is no technical information on which to assess it, and it doesn’t investigate the original cause of the failure,” she says.

John Hennessey, president and chief executive officer of CCWW acknowledges that at the present time the company has not performed any independent laboratory testing, but says it does have technical information and proprietary laboratory testing based on simple scientific principles and formulas.

“This test data and our in-field observations allow [us] to substantiate our claims,” Hennessey says. 

Some are also concerned that the fog may return or the unit may fail for other reasons if the original cause of the failure is not corrected. 

“This is treating just the symptoms, the underlying problem remains,” says Ernst. “This process is in no way equal to replacing a failed unit with a new unit.”

Ernst says that the statement that it is a restoration at a fraction of the cost of replacing a unit is a far-off claim. 
“Embedded costs and long-term costs of a lower-performance unit are hard to hang numbers on,” he says.

“Some units fail because they are poorly glazed and the resulting stress can cause failures to occur; some fail because the unit is poorly installed; some fail because the weep holes are blocked and it is standing in water,” says Webb.

“Without investigating what the cause of the unit failure was, it would be more difficult to say it won’t fail again in the future.”

Hennessey disagrees.

“CCWW does investigate the cause of seal failure ... [our company] is developing a significant database and knowledge base in that regard, and we are tracking the type of windows and IGUs by manufacturer, construction methods and seal failure,” he says. “Unfortunately, we see evidence of poor manufacturing and quality control procedures, incompatible or insufficient adhesives and seals, mishandling during transportation, poor installation of an IGU within a window system, open capillary tubes, clogged weep holes and hollow spacers void of desiccants, etc.”

Testing Procedures/ Other Issues
Another concern, according to Webb, is that repaired units have not been tested to comply with the ASTM E 2190 standard. 

Hennessey explains that CCWW has committed to independent technical evaluation.The following will be included as part of the evaluations:

• Laboratory accelerated performance assessment: Accelerated testing to the accepted North American (ASTM E 2190) sealed, insulating glass unit performance standards and the European Union (EN-1279-2) standards;
• Windload performance assessment: Testing to accepted North American (ASTM E 997) glass wind load test standards;
• Thermal performance assessment: Thermal performance assessment via infrared thermography (ASTM C 1155) and guarded hot box method (ASTM C 1199); and
• Controlled outdoor exposure performance assessment: Lab-oratory controlled outdoor exposure testing with real time exposure and data collection to monitor performance.

Questions about the process have also been raised because holes are drilled into the top and bottom of the unit, making the top hole a vent, and allowing for the loss of gas.

“CCWW concedes that if we access an IGU by drilling the glass, which has gas in it, the gas will obviously escape and any potential benefit of the gas will be lost,” says Hennessey. “However, it stands to reason that if the seal has failed the gas is gone or diluted well before any condensation or damage was evidenced ... For the most part consumers and commercial property managers are less concerned about gas escaping than they are about removing the condensation and chemical fogging in a window. They simply want to be able to see out of the window.”

Ellen Giard is a contributing editor for DWM and Sarah Batcheler is an assistant editor for DWM. 

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