Sealing Vinyl Windows from Off-Gassing?
Last Post 29 Jun 2012 10:23 AM by BobMaynes. 24 Replies.
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cfosterUser is Offline
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19 Apr 2009 03:19 PM
I know, I know, I just mentioned the v-word in a green building forum but we've gotten ourselves into a bit of a bind. To make a long story short, we may HAVE to get vinyl windows. Let's say we get stuck with them: Is there something we can do to seal the vinyl so it doesn't off-gas into the house? Is whatever we'd use to do that sealing worse than the original vinyl? :) Any suggestions would be great. Thanks, Colin.


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04 Jan 2010 06:03 PM
Very old topic, but I just joined and thought I'd add my $.02 worth. The only way to seal the vinyl windows is to use a 3M or similar window insulating kit, which uses a shrink-wrap method. Otherwise, there is no safe coating that will adhere to vinyl. Some folks have used AFM Safe Seal with moderate success, but I can't wholeheartedly recommend it myself.


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05 Jan 2010 06:38 AM
Posted By cfoster on 04/19/2009 3:19 PM
I know, I know, I just mentioned the v-word in a green building forum but we've gotten ourselves into a bit of a bind. To make a long story short, we may HAVE to get vinyl windows. Let's say we get stuck with them: Is there something we can do to seal the vinyl so it doesn't off-gas into the house? Is whatever we'd use to do that sealing worse than the original vinyl? :) Any suggestions would be great. Thanks, Colin.
Colin;

where did you find information about vinyl windows off gassing? I have not heard that



Chris Kavala
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05 Jan 2010 08:17 AM
Hi Chris,

Gosh, it's been a while so I can't say what specifically we were reading at the time. But I think it's generally accepted (though correct me if I'm mistaken) that all plastics off-gas to some degree and so one should be a little careful about how much plastic/pvc there is in a home (especially as homes become increasingly air-tight).

A quick googling did turn up this page mentioning vinyl windows, specifically:
http://www.ecoact.org/Programs/Green_Building/green_Materials/pvc.htm

I seem to recall discussing vinyl off-gassing when looking at our siding options as well, so there might be some information in that direction. (In the case of siding it was mentioned as "...and you don't have to worry as much about off gassing since your siding is outside.")

Hope that helps,
Colin.


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05 Jan 2010 12:10 PM
Colin;

I called Simonton window and of course they said that the frames do not off gas, I think they most likely do during the mfg. process, but my research shows that most of the off gassing occurs within 1 week of mfg.

I have Simonton in my own home,I am not concerned, as they are just a small segment of all the materials in the whole house.

What would one seal the frames with anyway ...... more plastic?   While we need to be careful, I think we can make ourselves nuts over stressing about the window frames all the while our milk, orange juice, peanut butter, catsup, mustard, honey, etc. is stored in plastics



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05 Jan 2010 12:34 PM
pretty soon it's going to get so bad that everyone is going to have to live in a bubble their whole life. I would not put any kind of plastic shrinkwrap or any other method on any window because as sure as you do your window would fail and the manufacturer would not warranty it due to the after market add on. Most manufacturers warranties already state that they will not warranty any seal failure or breakage if their glass has been coated with a tint or film of any kind. I'm sure the same thing would go for the frame.

Attachment: article_enfant_bulle.jpg

Matthew Burr
Buyer - Windows and Doors
Village Home Center /dba Cooper Building Materials
Hot Springs Village, AR 71909
Email: mburr@cbmcci.com
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05 Jan 2010 12:45 PM
I agree, Matthew, but for folks with chem sensitivity, their health is much more important than a warranty. Obviously, the best way to reduce toxins in the house is to eliminate the source of the toxins completely. There are better alternatives to vinyl windows. Many people question whether or not vinyl outgasses. If it doesn't, then how can it release an odor every time the material heats up? For those who are interested, outgassing is not like steam coming off a cup of hot water. Outgassing is the release of unreacted chemical monomers from a cured substrate. It is widely known that traditional latex paint, even the zero-voc stuff, will outgas for 2.5 years to 4.5 years after reaching a full cure. I haven't seen any tests done on plastics, though. I can only surmise that if the odor still persists after years of use, it's still releasing something. Whether that 'something' is toxic or not is up for discussion.


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05 Jan 2010 02:36 PM
D_O_G;

you will be hard pressed to find a vinyl free window, even wood and aluminum mfgs. use many vinyl parts for jamb slide/guides and glazing beads

when you say heat up, how hot do you expect the interior side of a frame to get ?



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05 Jan 2010 02:41 PM
Less is better. I like the Loewen windows myself. Once the material hit 85-90 degrees, there is a noticeable smell.


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05 Jan 2010 03:38 PM
Posted By D_O_G on 01/05/2010 2:41 PM
Less is better. I like the Loewen windows myself. Once the material hit 85-90 degrees, there is a noticeable smell.
Can't imagine the frame getting that warm in a home summer or winter



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06 Jan 2010 07:59 AM
Most likely you have much bigger issues than vinyl frames off gassing, how about plywood, mdo, mdf particle board and osb used in the flooring, cabinets, furniture, framing, jamb extensions, doors, door frames, flooring, shelving. Everywhere. Then there are sealants, adhesives, epoxies stains, varnish and paint. Even if they are low voc they are not no voc and are found in much greater quantities.
I'm sure those bubbles in the above photo are off gassing into the mouths of those kids as well.


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12 Jan 2010 05:19 AM
> Most likely you have much bigger issues than vinyl frames

We have no idea how much of an issue off-gassing is for those without chemical sensitivities but if you ask, you can often find alternatives to standard building products. When the alternatives weren't overly expensive (or added other value at a reasonable cost) we went for them. In the end, everything wood in the house was solid wood (kitchen, stairs, jambs, doors, floors). Plywood subfloor is sequestered under 1.5" of gypcrete.

We know we didn't (and couldn't possibly) get it all but if we can reduce exposure at a reasonable expense, it seemed like a good idea. Combined with an HRV, we think we've probably wound up with pretty good IAQ.


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14 Jan 2010 02:39 PM
Posted By cfoster on 04/19/2009 3:19 PM
I know, I know, I just mentioned the v-word in a green building forum but we've gotten ourselves into a bit of a bind. To make a long story short, we may HAVE to get vinyl windows. Let's say we get stuck with them: Is there something we can do to seal the vinyl so it doesn't off-gas into the house? Is whatever we'd use to do that sealing worse than the original vinyl? :) Any suggestions would be great. Thanks, Colin.

Don't worry too much Fiberglass Windows utlize a great deal of silicone that off-gas as well.


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18 Jun 2010 06:54 PM
Vynil windows probably contribute more to harmful off gassing than any other components found in homes.
The main ingredient is PVC (which is now being replaced by less harmful material by most automobile manufacturers). However, many other additives are used in window frames like plasticizers and dioxins that can compound the problem.

Those wide mullions and frame covers that are typical for vynil windows add to the problem by increasing the total surface area. There have been many reported instances of sore throats and lung complicatios, while many more are probably unreported, and the potential long term damage is totally unknown. While the off gassing process is the worst for the first few weeks or months, the problem can persist for a long time.


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18 Jun 2010 07:26 PM
ghasp;

what is the source for your claim?


Chris Kavala
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18 Jun 2010 08:33 PM
cmcavala,

I'm a GC who has fielded many complaints from new home occupants that I was obligated to pass onto suppliers who unfortunately are a lot more fluent with disclaimers than helpful info.


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18 Jun 2010 10:56 PM
Posted By ghasp on 18 Jun 2010 08:33 PM
cmcavala,

I'm a GC who has fielded many complaints from new home occupants that I was obligated to pass onto suppliers who unfortunately are a lot more fluent with disclaimers than helpful info.
ghasp;

I am also a GC, I have used vinyl windows in hundreds of buildings, I have never had any complaints. I was wondering how you were able to pinpoint that it was the windows? instead of a more likely source like formaldahyde in particle board, MDF or some other interior component?


Chris Kavala
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BobMaynesUser is Offline
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25 Jun 2012 10:54 AM

Quite frankly, I have never read a bigger bunch of hogwash in recent memory. Your "facts" are completely wrong, and I suspect, entirely made up. First, your assertion that PVC is being replaced by auto manufacturers for "less harmful" components is completely upside down. In fact, auto makers are using MORE PVC, since it's lighter and more durable than metal, and decidely NOT harmful.

Secondly, dioxins are not an additive, but are a group of chemical formed during combustion. According to the EPA, 61% of dioxins come from forest fires, followed by landfill fires, landclearing, backyard burning, cement, metals and finally vinyl, at 0.4%. Further your point, "plasticizers" have never been used in window profiles, as they are softening agents, the opposite of rigid. They are used in things like IV hoses and blood bags, obviously uses that the medical community has deemed "non-toxic".

The rest of your allegations are equally ridiculous, from sore throats to lung complications and my personal favorite, "unreported problems". Long term damage? Vinyl has been used worldwide since World War II, so that's, give-or-take, 65 years. Yeah, right, long term damage is unknown. If you can't speak the truth in these forums, speak nothing. As it is wisely said, "It's better to speak nothing and be thought a fool, than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt."



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28 Jun 2012 03:13 PM
Bob

Are you sure, this is right off of Intus website. http://intuswindows.com/commercial/u-pvc/windows.html

Typically, vinyl windows are made out of a compound known as polyvinyl chloride, or PVC. In general, PVC can be difficult to push through the dies, in order to make the extrusion. To aid the PVC through the dies, plasticizers are added to make the compound more pliable. While plasticizers aid in the production of the extrusion, they can have some adverse side effects as well. Plasticizers can make the vinyl itself very dense and brittle, thus making the final product susceptible to cracking and the effects of ultra-violet light. This is not exactly the type of product most people would want in their home.

However, there is an alternative: Unplasticized-polyvinyl chloride, or U-PVC. With this compound, no plasticizers are added. Instead, other additives are mixed with the compound to provide protection from weathering, impact strength, and aid in the processing of the material. The final product is stronger, longer lasting, and will fight the effects of Ultra-Violet light.


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28 Jun 2012 09:23 PM
Not only am I sure of this, I'm absolutely, without a doubt, 100% positive about everything I said. But, I do appreciate your asking. Let me respond to your questions...

First, you need to understand that Passiv Haus has an agenda against PVC. This is a carry-over, I believe, from Greenpeace's assertions from many years ago about the dangers of PVC. While Greenpeace has pretty much abandoned their previous positions (in fact, the former President of Greenpeace has stated, fairly recently, his belief that PVC is one of the better, safest, and more sustainable materials available). Full disclosure: I, too, am somewhat agenda driven, in that I manufacture PVC windows (also wood windows, cellular composite windows and air cell core windows. In fact, we're the oldest window manufacturer in the US, pre-dating the Civil War). However, I speak the truth, and the whole truth, and I'm up front about my allegience.

OK, back to your questions. vinyl, PVC for short, is comprised of a variety of materials, depending on its intended use. PVC is short poly(vinly chloride), sometimes called "resin" and this is the base for the compound. We also add other materials, including impact modifiers, heat stabilizers, pigments, processing aids, parafins and UV inhibitors. So, the PVC that is used in piping is nowhere near the quality of the PVC that is used in windows. When PVC is extruded, the compound, or blend, is heated to a molten state, then forced through dies (steel plates which give the extrusion its shape) using conical screws which simultaneously homogonize the blend as well as force it through the dies. However, contrary to what you've been told, plasticizers are not used in rigid vinyls. They are only used in PVC shapes that need to be flexible, like hoses or IV bags.

Since the first uses of PVC (in Europe) were for these types of flexible products, when PVC was started to be used in window profiles, the Germans used the prefix "U" for "unplasticized" to differentiate it from the common PVC. When they first came to the States in the mid-1970's they brought the "U" with them, but gradually dropped it after a few years.

Now, with regard to the statement that vinyl is dense... it kinda flies in the face of the other "criticism" of it (mostly from the fiberglass people), who say it's "too light". I will grant you that in the early days of PVC extrusion here in the States, there were a lot of fly-by-nighters who didn't compound and didn't extrude a quality product. And guess what? The market put them out of business. There were never any real wholesale failures, mind you, just products that didn't perform all that well, or yellowed, or chalked. The compounds and extrusions of today are light years ahead of what was done back then.

So, the standard, off the shelf vinyl that you see in every vinyl window I'm aware of in the States of in Europe (notice I didn't say China) IS the unplasticized variety, DOES contain TiO2 (titanium dioxide) to prevent yellowing from UV exposure, and will provide years and years of service. When it's served its useful life, it's 100% recyclable. Truly cradle-to-cradle. At the end of the day, the market does a pretty good job of determining the value and worth of a product. Since 1970, vinyl, fiberglass, wood and aluminum have fought it out to be chosen for that one windows that's going into that one hole in the wall. The market has overwhelmingly embraced vinyl, with roughly 70% market share. Wood remains constant at 20%, fiberglass at around 7% and aluminum at about 3%. If there were truly a better mousetrap, people would be buying it.

In conclusion, you're partly right, and partly wrong. But, I see how you can arrive at your conclusions based on the information you've been provided. For more information, please visit our website: www.mathewsbrothers.com You can also call me if you'd like to discuss any of this. My cell number is 207-505-0585. I'm usually up working by 5am (eastern), unless I'm out fishing (weekends in the summer), and I'm answering this at 9:20pm. So, I'm kinda committed to this!

Thanks again for your questions... Bob


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