All windows sold in Canada must be evaluated for their performance level in airtightness, watertightness and wind load resistance — the characteristics marked with an asterisk (*) in the list above. This About Your House focuses primarily on these characteristics. Evaluating windows for the other characteristics is voluntary, so not all windows are evaluated for their ability to resist, for example, forced entry.
Windows are an important component of a home. In addition to enhancing the esthetic beauty of the house, windows can provide fresh air and ventilation to the home, allow daylighting to brighten interior spaces and keep out harsh outdoor elements (wind, rain, snow).
Buying new windows can be a daunting task, especially for the uninitiated. Knowing the type of window best suited for your home and geographic location can help you choose a window that reduces direct drafts from air leakage and the potential for damage from water leaks. It’s important to understand how windows perform with respect to these factors. Equally important, knowing what to look for in a window can help you avoid buying something you don’t need.
The performance of windows sold in Canada is defined in a Canadian Standards Association standard called CSA A440 (Windows). This standard sets the type of materials that are to be used in the manufacture of windows and some minimum material properties, such as thickness, hardness and durability. The A440 Standard also defines minimum performance levels for windows evaluated under a standardized set of conditions. The characteristics defined in the A440 Standard include:
- Wind load resistance*
- Ease of operation
- Resistance to forced entry
- Condensation resistance
- Screen strength
Why is an Air Leakage Standard so Important?
The uncontrolled movement of air into or out of the house is a cost to the homeowner. For example, any cold outdoor air that leaks into the home (air infiltration) must be heated to room temperature to maintain the comfort of the occupants, so air infiltration is a heating cost. The same problem occurs in air-conditioned homes during the summer, when warm outdoor air infiltrates, resulting in an additional cooling load.
When interior-conditioned air (either heated for winter or cooled for summer) leaks to the outside, the homeowner also pays the energy costs associated with the air leakage.
Windows are tested for air leakage by applying a standardized air pressure (roughly equivalent to a 40 km/h — 25 mph — wind) across a window of a standard size. The amount of air that leaks through the window at that pressure difference is measured.
Depending on the test result, windows are given one of the following airtightness performance ratings:
- A1 (somewhat leaky),
- A2 (slightly leaky), or
- A3 (not very leaky).
In general, fixed windows tend to have higher airtightness performance ratings because they allow less air to pass through the unit than windows that open and shut. Slider windows tend to be leakier than casement windows. All windows sold in Canada must at least meet the A1 performance level to comply with local building codes.
A higher A rating is a desirable attribute for a window if your home is located in a region known to have frequent high winds or gusty winds.
The rated performance only indicates the window’s leakiness relative to other products evaluated. Installation procedures, manufacturing tolerances and other factors also contribute to performance of an installed window. Window units are not evaluated when installed in a wall, so a window rated at a specific performance level may not perform at that level when installed.
Window rating programs are intended to allow consumers to compare similar products, not to predict, for example, air leakage rates. The thinking is that, if one window has a better airtightness rating than another, it will have less air leakage when installed.
Windows may also allow water to leak into the house during rainstorms, leading to water damage of interior finishes and potential mold growth. Because of this, all windows sold in Canada are evaluated for their ability to resist water leakage and for resistance to wind-driven rain. Water is continuously sprayed onto the outside of a standard-sized window under standard temperature and air pressure conditions.
The window is rated in accordance with the highest air-pressure level for which no water leakage occurs.
A B1 rating is assigned to a window that exhibits no water leakage at a relatively low air-pressure difference across the window. It is the lowest permissible result.
All windows sold in Canada must meet at least the B1 rating to comply with local building codes.
Every rating number above B1 represents the highest air-pressure condition for which no water leakage occurs. For example, a window rated B4 that shows no water leakage at a test pressure of 400 pascals (Pa) — the metric unit of pressure — presumably leaks at higher pressures.
The highest possible rating in the A440 Standard for resistance to wind-driven rain is B7, equivalent to a window resisting water leakage at wind speeds greater than 120 km/h (75 mph.) — a high-performance product.
As noted for air leakage, the B rating does not necessarily indicate the performance of the product as installed. It should only be used to compare products. The B rating is a very important performance index in coastal climates, where wind-driven rain is relatively common. A window rated B2 would be the minimum advisable for low-rise houses (typically four stories or less) in most of Canada, except for the areas mentioned in Table 1.
Table 1 — Suggested Minimum Ratings for Wind-driven Rain Resistance
|For most of Canada||B2|
|Haida Gwaii/Queen Charlotte Islands||B5|
|Western Vancouver Island||B4|
|Eastern Vancouver Island and north coast of B.C.||B3|
|Southeastern Alberta, southern Saskatchewan||B3|
|St. Lawrence Valley, east Baffin Island, east New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, central Newfoundland||B3|
|Gaspé, Prince Edward Island, Gulf of St. Lawrence, coastal Labrador, coastal Newfoundland||B4|
The above B ratings are appropriate for low-rise residences in relatively sheltered areas, and are only a suggested minimum. Building height, shape and location, such as on hilltops, promontories or bluffs, can increase the effect of wind-driven rain, so that higher B ratings are advised. In new construction or replacement of existing windows, it is advisable to discuss and choose the window rating levels with a design professional.
Windows are also tested for their ability to resist wind pressures without deforming too much and without blowing out of their frames. Test windows are subjected to a large air-pressure difference to simulate hurricane-force winds (120 km/h and higher). The resulting deformation of the framing components is measured, with the window receiving a rating ranging from C1 — deflection or blowout of the window at gale-force winds (62 – 74 km/h — 39 – 46 mph.) — toC5 — resistance to extremely high wind pressures without blowout or permanent deformation. Windows rated C5 are appropriate for some high-rise buildings, or for low-rise buildings in very windy climates.
A window rated C2 is the minimum advisable for low-rise houses in most of Canada, except for the areas in the Table 2.
Table 2 — Suggested Minimum Ratings for Wind Resistance
|For most of Canada||C2|
|Haida Gwaii/Queen Charlotte Islands, western Vancouver Island||C3|
|Alberta south of High River, except Cardston area (see below)||C3|
|Cardston area of Alberta||C4|
|Lower St. Lawrence Valley (Baie-Comeau, Sept-Îles, Matane), western Prince Edward Island, western Cape Breton Island, east Baffin Island, Labrador, Newfoundland (see exceptions below)||C3|
|Cape Race, Gaspé region, Gulf of St. Lawrence, Resolution Island, Coral Harbour||C4|
The above C ratings are suggested for low-rise houses in relatively sheltered areas. They are typical values for the regions listed. Building height, shape and location, such as on hilltops, promontories or bluffs, increase the effect of wind pressures, so higher C ratings are advised. Higher ratings are also suggested if local wind conditions are higher than the average values for the regions listed. Typical wind-pressure levels for the regions listed (upon which the suggested C ratings are based) are taken from meteorological data valid for the location of the meteorological station. There may be, for example, regions in the Gaspé or in southern Alberta for which C5 ratings would be advisable.
Manufacturers may, but are not required to, have their windows tested for ease of operation, resistance to forced entry, condensation and screen strength.
Ease of Operation
Many operable windows are tested to ensure that their operation is relatively smooth, with no jamming of operator mechanisms. The amount of force required to turn operator cranks or slide windows open and closed is measured in the test and cannot exceed set levels.
As is always the case with standardized testing, however, the performance of the product sold may vary slightly from the rated value. The CSA Standard only indicates whether a window model meets or does not meet the requirements of this (voluntary) portion of the test. Consumers are encouraged to test window operation for themselves, noting that showroom models may have been opened and closed many times, and that dealers are unlikely to display products that do not operate properly.
Over time, gaskets and seals will tend to wear, so that window operation will become easier, but the window will also tend to leak more air and water.
Resistance to Forced Entry
The CSA Window Standard includes a test method to determine a window’s resistance to forced entry, but consumers are advised not to rely entirely on this rating for security of their person and property. A consumer-rating index is no substitute for normal precautions against unwanted or unlawful entry.
The CSA procedure contains standardized test methods to evaluate a window’s tendency to allow condensation to form on the glazing or framing members under winter conditions. Condensation, due to air leakage or heat loss through the unit itself, can damage adjacent building materials or cause fungal growth.
The warning that rated performance is different from actual performance of products sold is never more important than with this index. A wide range of variables can influence the formation of condensation, including:
- air leakage, through the window and around its perimeter;
- relative humidity of the interior air (the higher the humidity the greater the potential for condensation);
- where the window is installed in the wall (windows installed farther to the outside of the wall tend to exhibit more condensation);
- curtains, drapes, or blinds, which tend to restrict air movement on the window and thus promote condensation;
- the presence (or absence) of convection heaters below the window;
- placing objects (plants, photographs, books, and so on) on the windowsill tends to restrict air movement on the window and thus promotes condensation.
Condensation resistance of windows has an index called the Temperature Factor (TF). The TF can be thought of as an indication of whether the interior surface temperatures are more like the interior or the exterior. If the interior surface temperatures of the window were the same as the outdoor temperature, the TF would be 0; if the interior surfaces of the window were as warm as the room air, the TF would be 100.
If a window is tested for condensation resistance, the minimum level required to meet the A440 performance standard is TF 40. This is approximately equivalent to a double-glazed window with a thermally broken metal frame. Higher ratings are suggested for humid climates, for example, near lakeshores, oceans or in river valleys.
Higher ratings may also be necessary in homes where interior relative humidity levels are higher than average — for example, where frequent showers are taken, or an unusually large number of plants are maintained, or food preparation involves large quantities of boiling water. However, in situations where high indoor humidity levels are expected, it may be more appropriate to address that issue directly (for example, by installing a dehumidifier or exhaust fan) rather than buying condensation-resistant windows.
Operable windows usually feature a screen over the open portion of the window to keep insects outside. Depending on the force that can be applied without separating the screen from the frame, the screen is rated as either “Standard” or “Heavy Duty.” It is important to note that the screen strength test is only designed to determine the ability of the screen to resist nominal loads. An insect screen is neither a fall-prevention device nor an anti-theft feature: it is only intended to keep insects out.
Windows must be carefully selected to meet your needs. They must be suitable for resisting certain environmental exposures (such as rain and wind) and be within your budget. It takes care for the average homeowner and many professionals to make the best selection.
All windows sold in Canada must be evaluated for three key performance criteria, commonly referred to as the A-B-C window ratings.
A — airtightness (levels A1 to A3)
B — water resistance (levels B1 to B7)
C — wind resistance (levels C1 to C5)
Generally speaking, the higher the numbers, the better the window performance. Choose a rating level that satisfies the environmental conditions of your home. Determine if any of the voluntary performance criteria are required for your window(s) and if they meet the required standards.
- Air Chambers – Small honeycomb spaces within the sash and frame which help to insulate and strengthen the window.
- Air Infiltration – The amount of air that passes between a window sash and frame. In windows it is measured in terms of cubic feet or air per minute, per square foot of area. The lower the number, the less air the window lets pass through.
- Argon Gas – An odorless, colorless, tasteless, non-toxic gas which is six times more dense than air. It is used to replace air between the glass panes to reduce temperature transfer.
- Awning Window – A top-hinged window that swings outward for ventilation.
- Bay Window – An angled combination of three windows that project out from the wall of the home. The windows are commonly joined at 30- or 45-degree angles.
- Bow Window – An angled combination of windows in 3-, 4- or 5-lite configurations. The windows are attached at 10-degree angles to project a more circular, arced appearance.
- Cam Lock and Keeper – The mechanisms which pull the sash together when placed in the locked position.
- Casement Window – A window with a side-hinged sash that opens outward for ventilation.
- Compression Sills – Seals that can be squeezed tightly together between the moving sash and frame.
- Condensation – The formation of moisture on the surface of the window.
- Conduction – Heat loss in windows that occurs primarily through the edges of the glazing and through the sash and frames.
- Convection – Heat loss that occurs due to air movement between the glazings of a window.
- Dead-air space – The space between the panes of glass of an I.G. Unit.
- Desiccant – A material used in insulating glass to absorb water vapor which causes fogging.
- Double Hung Window – A window that has two operable sash which slide vertically.
- Drainage Holes – Small openings designed to allow water to escape that might otherwise accumulate in a window’s sill.
- ENERGY STAR® – ENERGY STAR® is an independent government program establishing a standard set of guidelines to recognize the energy efficiency of various products. ENERGY STAR® guidelines are used in conjunction with a variety of building materials, including windows and patio doors. Over the past ten years, ENERGY STAR® guidelines have helped double the efficiency of windows they endorse.
- Full Frame Removal – An installation procedure in which the entire window assembly is removed right back to the rough opening and replaced with a completely new window.
- Fusion-welded – The process of joining materials by melting them together with extreme heat (over 375 C), resulting in the materials uniting into a one-piece unit.
- Glazing – The process of sealing the glass to the sash.
- Glazing Bead – A strip of vinyl which surrounds the edge of the glass and holds it in place in conjunction with other sealants.
- Grills – Decorative horizontal or vertical bars installed between the glass panes to create the appearance of the sash being dividing into smaller lites of glass.
- I.G. Unit (Insulating Glass Unit) – Two or more lites of glass separated by a spacer and hermetically sealed at the glass edges.
- Jamb – Vertical sections of the main frame.
- Lite – A unit of glass in a window.
- Low E (Emissive) Glass – A thin metallic layer, only several atoms thick, applied directly to the glazing surface the purpose of which is to reflect long wave energy back towards the source.
- Mullion – A vertical or horizontal frame member that separates two or more sash, two or more fixed lights, or a combination of sash and fixed lights.
- Obscure Glass – Glass that has been made translucent instead of transparent.
- Patio door – A glass door that slides open and close on adjustable tandem rollers. Available in 2- or 3-lite configurations with the operable panel available in any position.
- Picture Window – A window that has no moveable sash.
- R-value – Resistance a material has to heat flow. The higher the R-value, the greater the resistance, the better the insulation. R-values are the reciprocal of U-values (R-value of 4 is equal to U-value of 0.25)
- Radiation – Wave energy transmitted directly from one object to another through the atmosphere or through transparent or translucent materials. The energy radiated is transmitted, absorbed, reflected or a combination of all three.
- Sash – The part of the window which contains the glass.
- SAWDAC – Siding and Window Dealers Association of Canada
- Shims – Wedges, usually about 2″ wide used to position the window into the opening and ensure it is level, square and plumb.
- Sill – The horizontal, bottom section of the main frame.
- Sill Extension – An extrusion that is attached to the bottom of the window to cover the gap between the sill and the rough opening.
- Slider Window – A window in which the sash move horizontally. Sliders are available in a 2- or 3-lite configuration, with the 3-lite having operable end vents.
- Solar Heat Gain – The percentage of heat gained from both direct sunlight and absorbed heat. The smaller the number, the greater the ability to reduce solar heat gain.
- Spacer – Material placed between two or more pieces of glass in order to maintain a uniform width between the glass, and prevent sealant distortion.
- Sweep Sill – A flexible fin usually made of rubber or polypropylene which is fastened to either the movable sash or the stationary frame and sweeps against the opposing component to form a barrier.
- Tempered Glass – Glass when broken, it breaks into pebbles instead of shards.
- Thermal Break – An insulating material applied to a high conducting material to slow the transfer of heat.
- Tilt Latch – Mechanism that unlocks the sash and allows it to tilt in from the main frame.
- U-value – Amount of heat transferred through a material. The lower the U-value, the slower the rate of heat flow and the better the insulating quality. U-values are the reciprocal of R-values. (U-value of 0.25 is equal to R-value of 4)
- Warm Edge Spacer – Spacers made from insulating material such as foam, butyl, thermo-plastic, or thermally improved metals and therefore conduct significantly less heat energy than standard spacers.
- Water Leakage – The penetration of water that would continuously or repeatedly wet parts of a building or components not designed to be wetted.
- Weather-stripping – Material used to form a weather-resistant seal around operable sash
Here you will find a wide range of useful industry links and information on Windows and Doors and Energy Saving Tips and Resources.
National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC)
Canada Mortgage and Housing Association
Canadian Home Builder’s Association
Renovating for Energy Efficiency
The Efficient Windows Collaborative
Going Green: Eco-Friendly Property Upgrades
Home Renovation Cost Calculator. Free Online Home Renovation Estimate
BuilderCentral.com – Comprehensive Home Builder Web Directory
Canadian Windows Doors Directory
Home Garden Directory
Home & Garden Directory. We are listed under Home Windows category
For the most part, newly manufactured window systems are maintenance free. And while it’s true that they require little up-keep, the exterior of any window still needs some amount of care and maintenance, if only to keep things looking clean and well maintained. The truth is, routine maintenance also ensures long-term performance and reliability. At Eco Choice Windows & Doors, preventive maintenance is key.
In any region of the country, the surface of a vinyl window will collect dirt and dust. Here, normal cleaning with a damp cloth will remove the accumulation of surface dirt and dust. For a more thorough cleaning job, its best to use a mild liquid cleaner similar to a dishwashing detergent. For the more stubborn stains, a slightly stronger product can be used. Most importantly, harsh abrasives are not to be used on vinyl.
The natural elements of vinyl actually prevent dirt and grease from penetrating into the vinyl. That’s why these windows are considered virtually maintenance free. And in the end, soap and water are the best for regular cleaning. In the event of a more stubborn stain, most of the common household cleaners are appropriate, but it s always wise to stay away from the abrasives.
Screens should also be cleaned from time to time. And although our products are fabricated with the highest quality materials, keeping them clean is still a good idea (perhaps with a water spray or gentle vacuum). Once again, routine maintenance not only keeps everything clean and hygienic – it also contributes to longevity. And it never hurts to read up on the product manual.
When it comes to double-hung windows and tilt-and-turn window systems, these too are designed for easy maintenance and easy cleaning. But unlike the more basic windows, it’s best to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations, especially where there are special instructions. These are all highly engineered systems and merit the care and attention that is recommended.
Condensation on your windows during winter?
Today’s homes are insulated and sealed at a very high level to make them “air tight” and energy efficient. Older homes have many ways for the for the moisture to escape and therefore fewer problems with moisture in the house. Today’s homes are often smaller than previously, yet activities like showers, dishwashers, washing machines, gas furnaces and humidifiers all pour more water vapor into homes than in past years. All of this moisture must eventually escape from your home.
A family of four can release more than 18 gallons of water per week into the air of your home.
Condensation occurs on inside window surface whenever surface temperature falls below the dew-point temperature of the room. In a thermal sense the window represents the threshold for humidity to form because it is the coldest surface in the room. As a rule, the colder it is outside, the greater the likelihood of water vapor forming on inside surfaces, even at reduced humidity level in the home. For example: at -40°C condensation will form at only 25% humidity in the room. At -1°C the inside humidity level must rise to 63% before condensation will form
Actions to reduce condensation
- Ensure the humidifier is properly functioning and adjusted to suit the outside air temperature.
- Open windows and doors whenever practical or possible to allow interior moisture to escape.
- Open blinds or curtains to facilitate air movement.
- Use the ventilators when showering.
- Use ceiling fans to circulate air.
- Turn furnace fan on a continuous operation
Outdoor Temperature Relative Indoor Humidity
– 7°C 30%
– 12°C 25%
– 18°C 20%
– 23°C 15%
– 29°C 10%
More Information about Condensation
OPTION 1 – Retrofit Installation
When doing a retrofit installation, we install new replacement windows into existing frames. In this install, we do not remove the interior window jamb and casing. We offer this option as our most economical window installation. It’s an easy and straightforward approach for window replacement, without compromising any quality or performance.
OPTION 2 – Full Frame Installation
For a full frame installation, there are a number of steps involved. We completely remove all of the old window units, including the frames, window jambs and casings. We then install the new window units with a choice of wood or vinyl jamb and casing (all maintenance free).
OPTION 3 – Brick-to-Brick Installation
The brick-to-brick installation method involves the entire removal of the old window sash, the frame, and the casing. We then install the new replacement window, with a choice of wood or vinyl jamb and casing. Finally, we finish the install with an exterior “brickmould”, which provides a custom finish on the exterior.
Quality installation of vinyl windows and entrance doors.
Whether it’s for new construction, a renovation project, or a retrofit, a quality installation of windows and doors is essential. A professional install will ensure that the new windows or doors are fully performing to the manufacturer’s specifications. At the same time, a poor quality installation compromises both performance and energy efficiency. For the very best results, a window and/or door replacement project should be a combination of high quality products along with the highest standard of installation. It always guarantees performance.
Do you really know who is installing your windows/doors?
At Eco Choice Windows & Doors, we only employ our own factory-trained install crews. We don’t hire or use sub-contractors, and we certainly don’t pay others for piecework. Our teams specialize in full frame removal (that’s the brick-to-brick installation) as well as retrofit installs. We always choose the best method of installation, depending on the specific construction of each house. Our professional window and door consultants work closely with each customer, offering options that best suit the job (it’s done during the estimating).
We appreciate that this is not just a house -it’s your home
Clearly, you want your new windows and doors to be better than the old ones. And what good are new replacement windows and doors if they’re installed poorly or inadequately? At Eco Choice Windows & Doors, our people treat your home as if it were their own. Projects are completed on time, with a professional approach, and with special attention to detail. We provide comprehensive site cleanup, and a customer service approach that is unrivaled. Our aim is to deliver a quality product and a quality installation, both for long term satisfaction.