Lawsuit Raises Questions About Windows Melting Vinyl Siding

A lawsuit in Oregon over melted vinyl siding is revisiting the question of what role, if any, windows might play in such events.

Michael Harney of Beaverton, Ore., is suing Associated Materials of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, the makers of Alside siding, for not honoring its warranty after Harney said a house he sold in October 2015 had melted siding. The complaint says Alside rejected his warranty claim because it believed the melting was caused by an unusual heat source, according to a report from Plastics News. Harney’s complaint alleges that the vinyl siding melted while being exposed to “natural conditions” and is thus covered under the warranty. (Attorneys for Associated Materials have not yet filed a response.)

The lawsuit, which was filed in August in U.S. District Court in Portland, Ore., could become a national class action case.

“While the precise number is unknown at this time … the proposed Class may be comprised of at least thousands of members,” lawyers for the plaintiff said in their complaint, which noted that there are at least 100 potential class members who could claim damages in excess of $5 million.

A study by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) found that under certain rare conditions, it’s possible for windows to focus enough heat onto vinyl siding to melt or warp it.

“Glass in double paned windows may on occasion slightly warp or deflect due to a difference in barometric pressure between the interior of the glass panes and the outside air pressure,” a 2014 summary of earlier NAHB research says. “This can create a concavity in the glass. Such a concavity is a normal response to pressure differences, does not affect the performance of the window, and does not constitute a defective window condition. However, the concavity may focus sunlight reflected from the window in a fashion similar to the effect seen when light passes through a magnifying glass. This focused light may land on adjacent building surfaces, and appear as a brilliant star-shaped spot. The concentrated heat generated by the focused reflected sunlight results in surface temperatures well above that encountered from direct sunlight, and has the capability of causing damage to exposed materials, especially those which are plastic based.”

Other factors that can affect distortion include foliage, the angle of the sun and how close houses are to one another, the report says.

To prevent concavity, the NAHB report urges window manufacturers to use capillary tubes between the two lites of glass.

“The capillary tube connects the interior space between the window panes to the outside air, permitting a gradual equalization of barometric pressure, and thereby lessening the possibility that a concavity will develop in the glass,” the report says.

However, capillary tubes can’t be used in windows with argon filling, because the gas will leak out.

Additionally, the NAHB report says manufacturers could switch to double-strength glass to prevent the concavity problem. Most windows are made with two pieces of glass that are 3/32 of an inch thick. Glass that’s 1/8 of an inch thick would maintain a flatter surface.

For years, many homeowners assumed that low-E glass was the main culprit in melting vinyl siding.

Low-E glass has been standard in building codes for years. Today, it’s in more than 81 percent of all residential windows, according to the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA).

In 2014, complaints about warped siding and even a handful of fires led the North Carolina Building Code Council to adopt an emergency rule that would let builders use non-low-E glass in situations where they could foresee reflections causing a problem. However, after intense lobbying by AAMA, the Window and Door Manufacturers Association (WDMA) and other industry groups, the North Carolina Rules Review Commission rejected the rule.

But last fall, the North Carolina Building Code Council changed the energy conservation section of the state building code to allow substitution of windows when they have been either shown to cause a problem relating to concentrated solar reflection or it can be determined they could cause a problem. This permanent rule took effect in January 2016.

The change was made to ensure builders would be clear of any liability for not being in compliance with the energy conservation requirements, said Jeffrey A. Smith, communications director with the Vinyl Siding Institute.

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32 Responses to Lawsuit Raises Questions About Windows Melting Vinyl Siding

  1. Jim Rensland says:

    on a sunny day you can watch the reflected ball of light, from my neighbors window, follow the path of my damaged siding.

  2. George says:

    I and my home have become a casualty of this phenomenon. I have a neighbor who is indifferent to my plight, my HOA is no help and does not allow trees over 6 feet in height. I am seeking another route to block the reflection before I replace my siding. I am considering the legal approach but from all I have read, it may be a waste of time. Any suggestions are appreciated.

    • Kathy Rainwater says:

      I need a solution as well in South Carolina.

      • Donna Elbers says:

        We were the neighbors with the new window that caused our neighbors siding to melt. We put tinted window cling … The stuff used for car window tinting … On the outside of the window. Problem solved.

  3. Anne Burlingham says:

    Had siding, windows and doors replaced 5 wks ago. The siding on the north side of the house is warped and sagging. Our contractor, who we have known for 45 yrs and never an issue over several major jobs, said “yeah that’s a problem sometimes… He explained the effect of the reflection from close se neighbors windows. I am shocked, disappointed, heartbroken. This was a big job to have done and it was sorely needed. There needs to b a class action suit or other mechanism to make the industry accountable. The siding manyfacturers rep is coming to see it on Monday.

  4. John says:

    in my case it has damaged three of my cars parked in the driveway along with the siding!

    • Luci Trampush says:

      We too have had 7 cars damaged from our low E bay window. No one will take responsibility, not manufacturer or window installer. Our only solution we are told is to take all the glass out and put in clear for $1,000.00 or put dark screens on which will look horrible and block our view to the outside for $500.00.

      • Michael G Murphy says:

        If you read the article instead of glossing over it, you may noticed the part where it said it wasn’t the LowE glass was NOT the problem.

        The reality of the situation is you or your salesman or window company or window manufacturer selected the cheaper, single strength glass. If you would have upgraded to a Kolbe or Renewal by Andersen with double strength glass, it would not have been a problem, but cheaper was chosen and you got cheaper results.

  5. Catherine Zamer says:

    Siding on our home started melting 9 yrs ago because windows are perpendicular to siding in several areas. Builder said it’s because of low e windows, and plant something to block sun. That doesnt help with 2nd story melted siding! We are trying to sell our home and it’s a huge problem. People don’t want to buy a house with damaged siding. I can’t afford to replace or repair (it will happen again). What a disappointment. We’re at a loss. Why is the homeowner responsible for this?

  6. My siding on the North side of my house is badly damaged from heat, our neighbors have low E replacement windows and my Insurance Co. won’t even address the situation, I’m retired and living on a fixed income, how the heck am I supposed to make the very expensive repairs.

  7. Nancy Monda says:

    My neighbors LOW-E windows have caused multiple fires on my property, the first of which was quite serious. Several others reported in this and other counties yet NC Building Code Council reluctant to address issue despite acknowledging it. Luckily I have extensive surveillance video of “death ray” and fire in progress that was picked up by Raleigh-WRAL TV station who is helping me to drive change.

    • Joyce Fandal says:

      I’m curious about the outcome on your problem. We’ve been dealing with the reflections from a new build next door burning our patio cushions. We have photos to prove it. Saturday our patio actually caught fire. We’re hoping to see an attorney next week but everything I’ve read is so discouraging.

  8. Jean and Al Ducham says:

    We got the top of the line siding from Certainteed in the summer of 2014 and the same thing happened to us on one side of our house–twice! Certainteed would mot make good on the warranty. We feel like we really got screwed. They did offer us $1000 if we would sign off on any future problems with it but we declined tha offer. It wasn’t fair.

  9. Wrong, wrong, wrong. It’s the high E windows. And it is because the glass is not FLAT! We had 26 homes with this problem, and we finally fixed it by demanding FLAT GLASS. The windows people can get it – we had to sue them, but they can do it. See here: http://www.fmph.org/home/fmph-melted-siding-documentation

  10. Alan De Garavilla says:

    We have experienced the very same problem on our vinyl siding in Boston, so the problem is not limited to just the hotter summer zones of the South/Southwest.
    We live in a very densely populated inner suburb where the houses are lined up townhouse style with no more than 15 or 20 feet between them, and our neighbors on both sides have fairly large, older generation double glazed casement windows. The pattern of melted siding created as the reflected rays of the sun as it transits across the sky is clearly visible on our home, both sides.
    I was also turned down by my homeowner’s insurance because the damage had occurred sometime well before we purchased the home, which put it beyond the limited claims reporting period … fine, we knew it was there, and what had caused it, before the sale so we felt it was “baked into” the price.
    But what if we decide to replace it (it really is an eyesore on a home that we’re trying to fix up) and the same thing happens again?
    Should we be liable if the insuracne company finds yet another reason to turn us down, as they are so want to do? And who wants that hassle anyway?
    It’s clear that nobody wants to take responsibilty for a problem which has had a well established explanation for over decades. To me this is a classic example of manufacturer’s negligence; they’ve long known the problem exists and yet refuse to adequately address the potential safety and property damage hazards, or accept any responsibilty for the problem.
    So the homeowner, Mr John Q. Public, is once again left holding the bag for someone eles’s clear negligence to provide a product that performs as was intended/promoted.

  11. Kevin says:

    There are neighborhoods in Maryland most of the houses have that problem I’m just curious if it’s the same manufacture of window.

    • NOOOO. It is the GLASS – it is NOT flat – and it can be manufactured flat, and it will not change over time. Forget the air pressure thing – make sure they put in only FLAT glass. Talk to Cardinal Glass.
      https://www.sites.google.com/site/windowsmeltingsiding/home/fairway-meadows-siding-history

      • Bev Jackowski says:

        Hi Carl. Our subdivision is 6 years old, and we’re getting ready to replace our siding that has buckled/warped from the rays emitted by our neighbor’s windows. You mention about insuring flat glass is used. These homes have Low E double-hung Anderson silverline windows (low grade). You mention about flat glass – my question is could we have just the glass replaced on our neighbor’s window provided the installer uses only “flat glass” or does this require complete window replacement? Thank you, Bev

  12. Gary Quam says:

    I’m having the same problem with damaged siding that Alside claims is due to my neighbor’s windows. They looked at my claim while on the phone with me and gave me that answer in less than 30 seconds, denied. but I don’t think they are right. I have never seen reflected light on the side of my house. They claim that they do not warranty thermal issues, but there is nothing in my contract concerning thermal issues. That was recently added to the contracts when this problem started started to proliferate. Also, they discontinued the siding color I have on my house, so there is nothing to replace it with in the damaged area. There needs to be a class action suit against Alside!

  13. Donna says:

    We put new Windows in and they melted out neighbors siding about 5 years ago. We figured out that as long as you have a screen covering your window or window tinting film on the outside of the window, it fixes the problem. Don’t know if the window tinting will void the window warranty though. We used both. Screen was only on bottom of window so during certain times of the year, sun would glare off of top window. So the window tint on outside of window worked best.

  14. Brian says:

    Well add me to this list of aggravated homeowners along the coast in southern NJ. Recently an older home behind mine was demolished and a new 2 story condo was erected. Shortly thereafter my siding started to melt on the rear of my home. It was determined that the windows of the new home were Low E material and caused the damage. There are 24 total windows on the back of this house and I’ve begun discussions with the neighbors about tinting the windows with a PTI film. My question to the group is, do I have grounds to sue the new homeowners for the damage they have caused to my home? This is terrible, and I’m disappointed in my local building code council for allowing these type of windows to be installed, especially when they are known to potentially cause these problems. I would think the flat, 1/8, double glass and PTI films should be mandated on all new construction.

    • Jeanne says:

      You absolutely have grounds to sue. I am in litigation against my neighbors, the window installer and manufacturer.

      • Zinara Carter says:

        Jeanne- do you mind telling me what steps you have taken to sue your neighbor. I am getting ready to replace my damaged siding. It is warp and buckling pulling away from my house. I’ve asked my neighbor to put screen up or film. They all but refused.

  15. Sharon Peterson says:

    Has there been an solution or class action suit? We just sided a house and one whole side of the house warp due to the neighbors’ windows. If they won’t put up film -have people been successful suing anyone? Manufacturer? This is ridiculous 3 months later to lose all this money and it’s winter sun in Chicago suburbs-can’t even imagine the summer sun damage.

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