One constant issue with RVs over the years since double pane were introduced in 1994 has been their propensity to "fog up” or lose their seal. These windows are truly dual panes of glass separated by an air space which technically is a thermopane however they are constructed in a different way from those used in residential applications. Having experienced this window fogging on a few coaches and knowing several others that have also experienced the problem I thought I would investigate the alternatives.
The primary options one has to correct the problem (assuming the failure is not covered by the maker’s warranty) is to have the glass panels resealed or to have new glass panels installed.
Re-Sealing Existing Windows
This repair technique did not exist on a large scale until about ten years ago. Two top rated companies that perform this repair are RV Fog Doctor (http://rvfogdr.com/) located in Searcy, AR and Suncoast Designers Inc. (www.ccwindow.com) located in Hudson, FL. I have seen work done by both companies and both come highly recommended.
eI recently toured the Suncoast operation after leaving the South East Area FMCA rally in Brooksville FL. Upon arrival and completing the paperwork, you are assigned a parking space with water and electric services. The day that work is to begin, you meet with a technician who marks with masking tape which windows are to be repaired.(See Feature Photo) Next, a technician enters the coach and removes the labriquin containing the window shade(s) and the retaining screws from the interior. Another technician cuts and removes the caulking on the exterior of the window and then the complete window assembly is pushed out of the coach. They look at the exposed wall for any indication that the window has developed water leaks that might lead to wall delamination. A cardboard and plastic cover is placed over each window while the window is being repaired to prevent weather and pests from entering the coach.
The windows are examined, then the glass panels are removed from the frame which is marked and set aside. The two glass panels are separated, then cleaned and examined carefully. If the glass is etched or severely marked and cannot be brought back to "like new” condition, then a new pane is used. They have a large inventory of popular window sizes in stock and if they have never had to replace glass on that particular window shape, they make a template which is sent to the glass cutting company for a custom cut glass. That information is stored so the next time that glass is required, it is simply a matter of entering the glass code to obtain another identical pane.
The old seal is completely removed and cleaned off each pane of glass, and once again the panes of glass are examined. If they are able to be re-used then they are put through an industrial glass "car wash” process to thoroughly wash and clean the panels. A further close-up examination of the pane is completed and then the two panels are re-assembled using a new improved he seal has a space for each pane and a divider to provide the required separation. Other than a short length of the perimeter, the complete edge is sealed and then the panel is run through an oven that warms the panels to 300 degrees Fahrenheit, and uses rollers preset to the finished thickness to set the dimension as it passes through the oven. When it is removed the glass and seal are united into a complete unit with the small space now sealed with a sealer. Should the thickness need to be adjusted air is blown into the gap to force the panes apart to meet the exact dimension, then the gap is sealed.
The panel is reinstalled in the metal frame and set aside until all windows for that particular RV are completed. The reinstallation reverses the steps and the exterior is carefully re-sealed with clear silicone for weather tightness. The windows are checked for the ability to open although the owner is encouraged not to open the window for 24 hours to allow the adhesive holding the handle to set thoroughly. The last part of the process is to water test the window from the exterior. When it proves to be leak free, the job is complete. The price is standardized at a fixed price per window no matter what the size is. Supplies are charged at 3% of the glass replacement cost and sales tax is applied. While not cheap, the result is a better than new window with a one year full repair warranty and a 10 year prorated warranty.
Each company has varying warranty terms, rates and charges. Check to see what they are before making your decision.
Part 2 Replacing Windows in TechTip #79