Pella Window Problem

We just discovered what appears to be rot on an aluminum-clad Pella Pro-Line window in the family room. The window is a bank of 5 windows, and the one with the problem is next to the end on the left. Windows were installed when the house was built in the second half of 1993.
For lack of a graphics tool, assume the windows are as done below.
|----+----+----+----+----| | problem is here at the bottom left corner of the window
What appears to have happened is that the aluminum cladding at the bottom has failed, as the outside right bottom corner of cladding is lose. So water (rain, sprinkler, etc.) has gotten inside to the wood and it appears that we have rot.
I am arranging for Pella to come look at the problem and give their recommendation. However, my question is this: in your opinion, will it be necessary to replace the entire set of 5 windows, or will it be possible to replace just the wood that has rotted?
The exterior is a synthetic stucco (competitor to Dry-Vit) and it will be a problem matching the rest of the house if the stucco must be redone.
Thanks for your advice.
JRH
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Have you checked other framing for rot from the synthetic stucco? May be that the stucco is the problem, not the window. Assuming you have one of the few good synthetic stucco installations and the window is the problem, Pella will probably only fix the one bad window. As for matching, doesn't the stucco get painted on occassion?

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Art wrote:

That was a fast response!!
I have seen no evidence of other rot, so the failed cladding makes me believe it is the source of the problem.
When the house was built, we were told unequivocally to not paint the synthetic stucco -- that the paint in the final coat was an acrylic that did not require painting. We watch it carefully, but it still does not show signs of needing repainting, although the wood around the house (soffits, eaves, etc.) are in need of another repainting soon.
JRH
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I visited the Dryvit site and it can be repainted. So if there is a mismatch after the repair you might want to do that:
http://www.dryvit.com/tech.asp?country_id=1
I would assume your brand stucco would be similarly paintable.
My understanding is that Pella windows are made out of many removable components so it is possible the window rot can be fixed without removing the whole window and ruining the stucco.
I would try to have a witness with me when the Pella guy shows up in case there is disagrrement over the situation. I would also have a ladder and some poking tools around and a camera (a disposable camera might be good enuf unless you need extreme closeups). That way if he blames your stucco you can tell him to go ahead and show you the stucco problem and you have a record of what he found.

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I used to work for a company selling Pella windows and doors and dealt with many warranty/repairs. My questions Is the rot on the inside of the window or is it only visible on the outside? Have you noticed any condensation on the inside of the windows? (this may be due to high humidity in the house) Have you noticed any condensation in between the panes of glass?(this maybe be due to a broken seal on low E/argon glass)
IF the rot is from the outside it's probably from poor cladding. IF the rot is from the inside then it's probably from the above causes.
In my experience, Pella is usually very generous when doing warranty repairs. They will probably replace the one window since you mentioned you have Pro-Line which is used in many retrofits therefore much easier to replace in a bank of windows. They will also replace any trim on the inside and outside to make it look like new.
HTH Michelle

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Michelle and Steve wrote:

Thanks, Michelle!
The rot is showing on the inside of the window, but the cladding is obviously loose on the outside. I suspect that we're just seeing the symptoms inside the house.
We have never seen condensation on the inside (although I must admit that I don't check regularly). During the winter, the inside humidity is usually very low, such that one must frequently touch a metal object to discharge the static electricity that has built up.
Never have seen moisture between the panes. That would be a clear signal that the seal has been broken.
This particular problem has only appeared on this one window, but I will ask that Pella inspect all windows in case there are other looming problems. Better to fix all at once if possible.
Only other thing we've noticed is residue in the corners of the windows throughout the house, but we believe that to be from the exterminator, not moisture. Of course, we will have Pella look at that, too.
Still awaiting a call back from the local distributor. Will post to advise what occurs.
JRH
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JRH wrote:

Update, as promised.
Pella came out, worked around my impossible schedule.
They agree that the cladding failed, but windows sold in 1993 had a 1-year warranty on the window (no labor), plus 10 years on the glass. Net -- no warranty coverage on these windows.
But....the rot is not extensive, so they can replace just the window and all should be OK. They do not need to pull the entire bank of 5 windows and crack into the stucco.
Cost for replacement window, labor, and taxes is just shy of $500. More than I'd like, but certainly need to get it done.
Thanks, everyone, for your advice and help!
JRH
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We have a stucco house built in 94, also with many Pella windows (aluminum clad).
Unfortunately, we've had about 10 replaced so far due to rot in the sash (always the bottom side. It appears to me that Pella had a major design or QA problem with these windows around that time, and as you found out, they won't do much about it.
My only advice is to add *substantial* rain guttering if you don't have it to keep as much water away from the windows as possible.
I believe it enters between the cladding and the glass on the outside, but also, I believe it's trapped on the aluminum sills and held against the wooden underside of the sash. Any slight crack in the pain there and the water (held in place by the rubber seals) will be wicked up into the wood.
After your inspection, have all the windows calked and painted with an exterior grade paint, and have the joint between the aluminum cladding and the glass on the outside sealed with some sort of clear sealant like silicon (ask a painter).
Also, I've found the aluminum sills leak water into the walls behind the stucco, so have a moisture study done of the stucco. This is *very* important if you haven't had it done recently. You can try and have the sills calked, but it's difficult to find for certain where they leak, so the gutters are a better bet.
If you have any plantings that prevent these windows from being dried by the sun (such as shrubs which hold moisture up against the windows after a rain and block sunlight), I'd also cut those back.
hth,
Chip

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