In the winter months, a commercial property’s building envelope – the surfaces, including windows and doors that separate the interior and exterior – is prone to heat loss. This can be caused by improper insulation, cracks or leaks in the seals, and aging systems. Commercial windows and doors are a prime target for inefficiencies.
Fortunately, for property owners and building managers, there are many strategies that can help winterize the windows and doors on your commercial property. One of the most effective: Updating aging windows and doors with newer systems designed to better insulate and retain interior heat. Yet, even without replacing windows and doors, there are quick strategies building managers can use to improve the efficiency of their property’s windows and doors.
Determining Areas that Are Losing Heat
Winterizing your property should begin with a thorough inspection of all windows and doors on the property. First, start by inspecting the seals around the property’s windows and doors for cracks, leaks, and stains. As seals age, they lose flexibility and they can shrink and become brittle, resulting in inefficiencies.
Additionally, check the seals for visible leaks or staining, which is one of the most common symptoms of water leaks. Water that seeps into the window system expands when it freezes, which can damage the seal and the window framing materials.
Property managers can also monitor temperature fluctuations using a heat scanning device or infrared imaging system. This will help you visualize where cold air is entering and warm air is escaping the property. Once you’ve determined an area that isn’t insulated properly, you can begin to diagnose the problem, i.e. improper seal, lack of weather-stripping, or a crack in the window’s glazing.
Weather-stripping Windows and Doors
Weather-stripping windows and doors is the process of adding additional seals around the window or door system. These seals are designed to better insulate the system and prevent cold air from entering the property. This is one of the most effective and relatively low-cost options for improving efficiency and insulation.
Insulating Commercial Windows
Generally, aging commercial windows aren’t properly insulated, meaning the window’s glass doesn’t maximize heat retention. Fortunately, there are solutions for insulating commercial windows without completely replacing the window system.
Low-E films and window coatings are one effective solution. Today’s Low-E coatings are designed to better manage interior heat and heat generated by sunlight, and they can be used year-round. In winter, adding a Low-E coating to the window will help to “bounce” more interior heat back into the property, helping to limit heat loss through the window glazing.
Today’s window and doors systems are designed with rubber gaskets that serve as an insulated seal for the system. Over time, though, these gaskets can fail, and during your initial inspection, you may have noticed symptoms of gasket failure, including staining, cracking or brittleness. Repairing failed gaskets can greatly improve the window or door systems insulation.
There are two primary methods for repairing window gaskets. First, a window specialist can remove the damaged gasket and replace it with a new rubber seal. This is longest-lasting fix to gasket failure, but unfortunately, without specialized knowledge of the window system, it’s not likely a DIY job. Secondly, a quick fix can be to apply silicon or acrylic chalking to reseal the window. Although this method is fast, it will create new ongoing maintenance needs. For one, the seal won’t effectively remedy a problem like leaking, and secondly, these seals will not last as long as a rubber gasket.
Update Inefficient Window/Door Systems
Aging window systems like single-pane windows and non-insulated doors can be a major source of heat loss. Although replacing seals, installing weather-stripping and adding Low-E coating will improve insulation, the impact of these improvements will be limited if the existing system is already inefficient.
Here’s why: Aging window and door systems aren’t designed with the latest technology, and they provide very little insulation on their own. Therefore, updating a single-pane window with double- or triple-paned glass will result in much greater energy savings than just refurbishing seals, adding coating, and adding weather-stripping to a single-paned system.
Winterizing your commercial property can result in greatly reduced heating costs and improved comfort for occupants. But depending on the number of windows and doors on your property, it can be time-consuming to update each window or door. Get started early. Regular inspections, for example, will help you spot problems before they become wintertime annoyances. Contact Us today!