When to actually call a window defective?

I ran into a situation last week that really got me thinking. We know all thermally insulated windows have a shelf life and will begin to have gas leaks at some point in time. If I notice a defective thermal seal within a new window or the common 3-year warranty period than I would definitely consider it defective, however, if a window is far beyond it’s warranty and I notice it just starting to lose it’s thermal seal, would it really be fair to report it as being “defective”?

Reporting a window as being “defective” will often prompt the buyer to ask for a repair or replacement but it doesn’t really seam fair to ask a seller to repair or replace something that’s “beginning” to show signs of deterioration but also still functioning as intended. Basically everything in or on the house is “beginning” to become defective when you really stop an think about it.

Over the past few years, I’ve often reported windows as being defective when noticing thermal patterns indicating an argon gas leak. I believe I’ve been in slight error in my reporting methods. If something is in the process of going bad due to common aging than it’s not really “defective”. Wouldn’t you agree?

I was scanning a house last week that was 7 years old and noticed a few windows that indicated a thermal seal leak. I decided not to report the windows as being “defective” because they weren’t showing signs of condensation, still contained argon gas, were still pressurized and providing an R value, and were beyond the common warranty period.

When you discover windows in the same conditions as these, do you report them as defective or within the Repair or Replace section of the report or just leave it alone?

Sorry for the long post…





I would report the anomaly as you see it and describe what it is and what will happen, let your client decide. Plus, most window manufacture’s warranty the glass for 20 years so if the original purchaser is still in the home they should be able to have them replaced.

I agree with Pete its not your call report what you see

I understand and agree with both of you, however, reporting everything you see with a high resolution IR camera can often lead to reporting on many additional concerns which can in-turn just cause more confusion and less referrals.

As home inspectors using thermal imaging, we often have to put more thought into what we decide to report on as much of it falls beyond our SOP. For a while, I was including all kinds of stuff that fell more into energy efficiency recommendations than actual home inspection defects. Often times it’s seems like trying to be more helpful and providing information far beyond our SOP can actually be more damaging to us than helpful to our clients.

I don’t want to be known as the most nit-picky home inspector available but instead a home inspector that has never missed a major concern or had an UN-satisfied client. I suppose it’s a juggling act.

What’s the point in offering IR services if you aren’t going to accurately report your observations, or will omit your observations?
That’s the whole premise of IR… early detection of concerns, problems, failures, etc.

Brandon your less referral statment bothers me a bit I have never had a client not refer me because I gave them to much information and I care less about what the RE agent thinks and I am married to one. There is a tremendous amount of IR that can be in a report as nice to know items and not necessarily on a repair list its all how you write your report

The job really isn’t to determine what is “fair”. The job is to report the condition “seen”.

“the Bride” has made this same exception in my case

Absolutely true with IR or any other method of observation, IMO.

When my inspections were used for real estate transactions, I was making observations and reporting them to my client. I am not aware of any reasons or circumstances under which I would intentionally withhold anything that I observed from my client

Lol… Nice.


to play the devils advocate, my question for you is how do you know the windows are bad?
We know you found an exception in the windows, but how can you be positive you identified an actual defect of the windows. Did you test them with something to confirm your failed seal. I thinks its the same as any other found issue.
I personally would eat you for lunch if you came into my home and stated that my windows were bad and the buyers walked. What if after that I had a professional come and test them with proper equipment and say there was no issue?

Not that some may care but the reality is many people don’t want to spend the extra money on a better home inspection. Have you done the reasearch and collected datat to prove that the small amount noticed has absolutely any affect on overall performance?
If your going to tout that you can check windows you should charge for it and also make sure you have other tools to confirm. No different then a water leak.

My thoughts exactly! I can obviously show the thermal pattern indicating what could be a thermal seal leak but how can I provide any evidence that absolutely confirms the window being defective? The windows could have very well come like that from the factory and been like that for years. The windows are still providing a thermal value from being pressurized so who’s to say they aren’t just holding a different amount of pressurized gas? Who’s to say the windows want look exactly the same 5 years from now?

This isn’t a case of me not wanting to report what I see or with-hold information from my clients. Heck, I love showing clients things that I discover with my IR camera, however, I don’t like confusing the hell out of them and reporting that something “might” or “might not” be truly defective.

Many folks act like they completely don’t give a crap about what real estate agents think but that’s just bad business in my honest opinion. I don’t like the way many agents conduct their business but to just not give a crap what they think and treat them accordingly is only hurting yourself. I don’t believe in writing soft reports for agents but I do believe in trying to find a good balance between providing a quality inspection and being considered the most nit-picky home inspector available. I do appreciate the constant referrals REA’s send me and in return I like to provide a quality inspection report with decisive information vs. a bunch of confusing “maybes”.

As an Infrared home inspector, we have to find an appropriate standard to reporting that not only provides a more in-depth and advanced inspection but also allows us to stay in business or prevents REA’s from running and never referring another client to us again.

For instance, I can most often find a small area of missing insulation in damn-near every house I inspect. I’m not going to report a house as having an “insulation defect” if insulation is missing from a little 2x2ft area in the attic. For one it would make VERY little difference if the area was insulated and for two it shouldn’t have any effect on weather someone actually purchases the home. There are literally dozens of concerns that fall into a similar grey area of what is or is not considered useful and beneficial information. It is up to me to decide on what I should and shouldn’t report when it falls outside of our SOP.

With all that being said, I still don’t know if I should be calling something defective or list it as “going” defective without being able to provide anymore confirmation than just a single thermal pattern on the day of the inspection.

It seems like more than just one other IR inspector(Sean) would be able to see where I’m coming from on this issue.

You have to take others into consideration at some level as well. The customer does not know better, and is relying on your expertise to inform them.
All the agent sees is some dumb ***** coming in claiming the windows are defective when no actual proof is delivered. Most I work with are for the most part good people but no one will pass you referrals in the future if you spend your time finding exceptions only.

I personally would always have a secondary means of verification before I would go claiming that somthing is defective by thermal alone…

Smooth operation. Physical condition. Lock-ability. Note if it is single pane, thermopane, single hung, double-hung, awning, sliding, casement, whatever. Note storm windows and their physical and operation condition. Note weep holes. If you want to note fogging, fine.

IMO, you should not be inspecting windows with IR. The results may be misleading. Once you start talking about performance, you are opening a can of worms.

If you see leaks AROUND the window, that is something that should not happen, as the dwelling does not generally leak in these areas by design.

Sean / Joe,
I believe we’re seeing things on the exact same level.

I went to a United Infrared class called MoistureFindIR that was taught by Scott Wood. It was a great class in my opinion. One of the days was spent at an actual window testing facility. It was a big warehouse full of windows from all over the Country that were sent there to be tested for numerous reasons(mostly lawsuits). It was very surprising to learn that nearly 30% of thermally insulated windows are defective when they leave the factory.

There are specific ASTM standards for testing windows and I seriously doubt many home inspectors offer such services. For proper testing, the windows are put into a chamber and a huge amount of wind and pressure is applied. It was very surprising to see just how much the windows could bow or flex without breaking. After the windows are removed from the chamber, a vacuum pressure is put on one side and a calibrated spray-rack is put on the other. After 5-10 minutes, the windows are scanned with an IR camera to check for any air or moisture leaks.

I have a calibrated spray rack and obviously an IR camera but I don’t have the calibrated pressure blower. Basically I don’t have everything needed to properly test a window per ASTM standards and therefore I have no business claiming something to be defective without being able to properly confirm it.

As of now, I am no longer calling windows defective from a thermal pattern alone. I may verbally discuss the concern with the client but I’m no longer going to report them as defective unless I can actually see condensation, hazing, visible thermal seal deterioration, etc…

If anybody has any further input than it’s always appreciated. Thanks to all those who did provide their opinion!

I doubt I will ever see this response because i do not come to this area often I just saw the title and thought it was interesting.

I have a huge issue with your above statement. I would never not tell a client what I see or how I feel for fear of not getting referrals.

I do not know you or anything about you or if you make all your decisions like this but I think it is disgusting your obligation is to your client and you should not be concerned with referrals not being given because you do your job. How about not getting referrals from the client who you did not tell everything you learn about his property… Oh I guess the Realtors who get to sell the house are more important to you than your client the one who writes the check.

Sorry if I am coming off strong but that statement really rubs me the wrong way.

I really think you need to rethink who you are working for and who’s best interests you should have in mind. :roll:

I really try my best to be as courteous and respectful towards others as possible but in some circumstances it really becomes difficult.

Either one, you didn’t even read the full thread before you made such an idiotic reply or two, you’re just too damn stupid to comprehend anything above a 3rd grade level.

You WILL CLEARLY SEE that this isn’t a case of me not wanting to report valuable information to my clients but instead wanting to make sure I am reporting RELIABLE AND ACCURATE information to my clients. Reporting everything I see with my thermal imaging camera and then calling it defective without any further confirmation is not only a dis-service to the client but also to the entire Thermal Imaging industry.

If you had at-least 2-3 brain cells about thermal imaging than you would know that confirming what an infrared patterns indicates is ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL in most all cases before documenting something as being defective.

I’m not wasting my time stooping to your level of ignorance so I’ll just encourage you to TRY and actually read the ENTIRE thread or maybe see if you can hire someone to read it to you and help you comprehend some of the stuff we discussed.

I’ll try to grasp the vast amount of knowledge you have.

You try to remember who you work for :slight_smile:

Brandon - Interesting comment. I might say something like:

I used my theral imaging camera to examine the thermal pane window. In my opinion, one or more windows (such as at the abc, def, and xyz) look as if they’re losing their thermal seals. Signs of lost seals in thermal pane windows may appear and disappear as the temperature and humidity changes. ALL windows with lost seals may not have been evident at the time of the inspection. Thermal windows are only checked for obvious clouding at the time of the inspection. If any lost seals were noted, we recommend having all windows checked by a window specialist for other lost seals.

I have never tried to document a window with thermal in a standard residental inspection I think its fine to inform a client that a window is in some state of failure in a residental report but the only time I call for a repair is if I can visually see moisture (condensate) between the glass. Different story If I am hired to do thermal on the windows