Results 1 to 28 of 28
  1. #1
    Randy Clayton's Avatar
    Randy Clayton Guest

    Default alarm contacts in windows

    I've been seeing this a lot latley (especilaly in new cnstruc.) alarm contacts in the bottom of window sills;evan when labled that doing so will void any mfgs. warranty. I've heard many explinations such as we've found this pproblem to late in the construction process and will take on the warranty issues. to its not a real problem.
    have you guys seen this and how have you responded...

    Similar Threads:
    ***IMPORTANT*** You Need To Register To View Images ***IMPORTANT*** You Need To Register To View Images
    Inspection Referral SOC

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Columbus GA
    Posts
    3,741

    Default Re: alarm contacts in windows

    Randy
    Although still commonly called "Contacts", contacts have not been available for many years, what is in use now are "Switches".

    When someone wants to have the windows switched (builder or buyer), most of the time they DO NOT want exposed wiring or switches.
    Concealed switches are mounted in the window frame (as you see).
    Alarm companys have been installing switches this way for decades.

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Spring Hill (Nashville), TN
    Posts
    5,829

    Default Re: alarm contacts in windows

    Alarm installers can cause a good deal of damage in a short period of time. I have seen them drill all the way through a window and frame and up through the roof with one of their 6' drill bits!

    Once they drill though that window they have compromised the water tightness of the window sill and pan. Over the years I have seen entire walls rotted out because the alarm button/switch was not installed in a manner to keep the window from leaking. Seldom will you find sealants around the buttons/switches or they make the hole too big or they make a couple of holes and just leave them. A wise man once said that window sills should not have holes in them!

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  4. #4
    Kevin Barre's Avatar
    Kevin Barre Guest

    Default Re: alarm contacts in windows

    As Scott said, water is the issue. I also have seen rot in as little as 4-5 years due to this. The really frightening windows are the vinyl ones which have a part of the frame below the sill that has weep holes in the face. With those, the lower chamber is designed to drain off water. Typically, the upper part of the sill that the sash contacts when closed will have small holes at the ends to allow water to drain to the lower, sealed chamber and out the weep holes in the front. When you drill through not only the top sill (which you can seal) but the bottom one also (where sealing the hole is tricky) you have a large problem in the making. You often don't know you have a leak until your drywall falls off due to rotted studs.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Columbus GA
    Posts
    3,741

    Default Re: alarm contacts in windows

    "Alarm installers can cause a good deal of damage in a short period of time."
    Yes, as can any trade or contractor.

    "I have seen them drill all the way through a window and frame and up through the roof with one of their 6' drill bits!"
    Been there and done that.
    Have you ever stepped through a ceiling?

    "once they drill though that window they have compromised the water tightness of the window sill and pan."
    I disagree. I have installed well over a thousand switches so far, and to my knowledge have not had any problems with leakage.
    In December, I replaced some switches on a house that I installed the alarm system in over 20 years ago. (Some switches did not work because someone painted them)
    What is a window pan?

    "Over the years I have seen entire walls rotted out because the alarm button/switch was not installed in a manner to keep the window from leaking."
    I had a bay window and wall that rotted out, it does not have any switches in it.I do home repairs, and replace rotted window sills, frames.. often, I can only remember 1 that had a switch in it. How many rotted window sills have you seen? How many had an alarm switch?

    "Seldom will you find sealants around the buttons/switches or they make the hole too big or they make a couple of holes and just leave them."
    When I first got into the alarm business, people took pride in their craftsmanship. Now, the mass marketers are only interested in speed and profit. Inexperienced young men are doing the installs with little training and no supervision.
    As with roofers not using a proper starter coarse, when the directions are on the bundle, so it is sometimes with alarm installers. The instructions on the box of switches read " ...seal with silicon...".

    "A wise man once said that window sills should not have holes in them!"
    "Should not", not "Shall not".

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Columbus GA
    Posts
    3,741

    Default Re: alarm contacts in windows

    " I also have seen rot in as little as 4-5 years due to this"
    Last year I replaced 8 windows in a 7 year old house, no alarm system. It was due (in my opinion) to, poor quality paint, lack of painting when needed, and finger jointed wood.

    "The really frightening windows are the vinyl ones which have a part of the frame below the sill that has weep holes in the face. With those, the lower chamber is designed to drain off water. Typically, the upper part of the sill that the sash contacts when closed will have small holes at the ends to allow water to drain to the lower, sealed chamber and out the weep holes in the front"
    Lets start with " which have a part of the frame below the sill"
    How can part of the frame be below the sill?

    With those, the lower chamber is designed to drain off water.
    Where does it drain to, below the sill? I don't think so.

    Sorry Kevin, I can't picture what you are describing.

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Chicago, IL
    Posts
    2,797

    Default Re: alarm contacts in windows

    > "How can part of the frame be below the sill?... Where does it drain to, below the sill? I don't think so..."

    Here's an example:



    Water entering the window assembly exits through the weep above the "pan" (AKA "pocket sill") at the bottom of the window assembly just above the window sill. (This is not the same component as a separate pan flashing installed below the entire door or window assembly):





    If you drill through the bottom, sides or back of a window's pocket sill - especially if you don't seal the hole around the wires - water instead enters the wall.

    Last edited by Michael Thomas; 04-27-2008 at 04:20 PM.
    Michael Thomas
    Paragon Property Services Inc., Chicago IL
    http://paragoninspects.com

  8. #8
    Kevin Barre's Avatar
    Kevin Barre Guest

    Default Re: alarm contacts in windows

    Rick--
    I realize that it may be hard to follow if you haven't seen the multi-chambered vinyl extrusions. The weep holes, as I said, are in the front of the frame on some vinyl windows. Here are some photos from the same home. One shows the alarm switch not even seated in the hole, much less having any sealant. One shows a hole without anything in it at all. Last photo shows the front of the window. The rectangular slots in the face are the weep holes. This type of window has the sash sitting in a "trough" that will get water in it. This water drains into the lower chamber via holes at the corners of the trough that the sash sits in. From there it is designed to drain into the lower chamber and exit out the front. If there is a hole in the bottom floor of the frame due to an alarm installer's drill a leak is guaranteed.

    Even wood and aluminum windows will likely leak due to these holes if no sealant is applied. Especially if the homeowner owns a pressure washer -- or even a garden hose -- that's used often.

    I am not sure why you seem to be bent on defending alarm installers who make obvious errors, or why you seem compelled to point out that rot occurs from other causes. We all know that. What I do know is that in 10 years at this, I have only seen 2 alarm jobs that ever had any attempt at sealing the holes.

    Attached Files Attached Files

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Spring Hill (Nashville), TN
    Posts
    5,829

    Default Re: alarm contacts in windows

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Cantrell View Post
    "Alarm installers can cause a good deal of damage in a short period of time."
    Yes, as can any trade or contractor.

    "I have seen them drill all the way through a window and frame and up through the roof with one of their 6' drill bits!"
    Been there and done that.
    Have you ever stepped through a ceiling?

    "once they drill though that window they have compromised the water tightness of the window sill and pan."
    I disagree. I have installed well over a thousand switches so far, and to my knowledge have not had any problems with leakage.
    In December, I replaced some switches on a house that I installed the alarm system in over 20 years ago. (Some switches did not work because someone painted them)
    What is a window pan?

    "Over the years I have seen entire walls rotted out because the alarm button/switch was not installed in a manner to keep the window from leaking."
    I had a bay window and wall that rotted out, it does not have any switches in it.I do home repairs, and replace rotted window sills, frames.. often, I can only remember 1 that had a switch in it. How many rotted window sills have you seen? How many had an alarm switch?

    "Seldom will you find sealants around the buttons/switches or they make the hole too big or they make a couple of holes and just leave them."
    When I first got into the alarm business, people took pride in their craftsmanship. Now, the mass marketers are only interested in speed and profit. Inexperienced young men are doing the installs with little training and no supervision.
    As with roofers not using a proper starter coarse, when the directions are on the bundle, so it is sometimes with alarm installers. The instructions on the box of switches read " ...seal with silicon...".

    "A wise man once said that window sills should not have holes in them!"
    "Should not", not "Shall not".

    Rick, we have exceptions to everything but in general I would say that the vast majority of alarm installers rank right up with CATV or Dish installers. Whatever it takes to get the wire from point A to B they will do. I'm sitting in my kitchen right now looking at a phone line and a CATV line entering my neighbors house through a hole that was drilled through their vinyl siding and it goes into their master bedroom! Simple, quick and dirty.

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Columbus GA
    Posts
    3,741

    Default Re: alarm contacts in windows

    Michael and Kevin

    Thanks for the photos. I don't recall seeing a window like you've shown,
    and do not know it's construction. I'll go by Lowes to see if they have a window like that.
    Kevin
    I don't know who was more stupid the installer for drilling a hole and then not even sealing it, or the window manufacturer for making a window with a built in water trough.

    As for being " Bent of defending...".
    " ...Now, the mass marketers are only interested in speed and profit. Inexperienced young men are doing the installs with little training and no supervision.
    ... so it is sometimes with alarm installers. The instructions on the box of switches read " ...seal with silicon...".
    But I do think that some of the statements were broad and could be attributed to other factors.

    "What I do know is that in 10 years at this, I have only seen 2 alarm jobs that ever had any attempt at sealing the holes."
    See, that's kind of a broad statement, that is unless you actually pull the switches out to see if they were sealed?

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Columbus GA
    Posts
    3,741

    Default Re: alarm contacts in windows

    Scott
    Point taken.

    Could it be that the Dish and Cable TV companys, could also be mass marketers hiring inexperenced young men with little training and no supervision.

    But to get back to the window with a hole in it.
    When done properly, (Yeah, when done properly, three magic words) it should cause no problems.

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Columbus GA
    Posts
    3,741

    Default Re: alarm contacts in windows

    After re-reading the post, perhaps I was defensive.
    Sorry about that.
    The bride has been out of town for a few days, and I'm lonely for conversation.
    Sigh, I'm going to bed.

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  13. #13
    Kevin Barre's Avatar
    Kevin Barre Guest

    Default Re: alarm contacts in windows

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Cantrell View Post
    Michael and Kevin

    Thanks for the photos. I don't recall seeing a window like you've shown,
    and do not know it's construction. I'll go by Lowes to see if they have a window like that.
    Kevin
    I don't know who was more stupid the installer for drilling a hole and then not even sealing it, or the window manufacturer for making a window with a built in water trough.

    As for being " Bent of defending...".
    " ...Now, the mass marketers are only interested in speed and profit. Inexperienced young men are doing the installs with little training and no supervision.
    ... so it is sometimes with alarm installers. The instructions on the box of switches read " ...seal with silicon...".
    But I do think that some of the statements were broad and could be attributed to other factors.

    "What I do know is that in 10 years at this, I have only seen 2 alarm jobs that ever had any attempt at sealing the holes."
    See, that's kind of a broad statement, that is unless you actually pull the switches out to see if they were sealed?
    You don't need to pull the switches to see that they aren't sealed. There is only the tiniest little flange that keeps the switch body from falling into the hole. Less than 1/8" wide. There will be some silicone or other sealant readily evident if it's used. Where I do see it, it's gobbed on. (That's the technical term, I think!)

    We agree 100% that inexperienced (or, more accurately, under-trained) guys are doing the installs. Then again, that's all too true in too many trades. I suspect that the supervisors don't even think about the issue. In too many cases, I suspect that they were a gofer a few weeks ago.

    The window manufacturers aren't stupid for making a window like I showed. It has heat welded seams that are impermeable. Unless someone violates the integrity of that chambered design with a drill bit -- or a mounting screw, in the case of replacement windows...but that's another topic -- it works fine.

    I do admit that the issue with vinyl windows is not well known. It will take a few more years for damage to accumulate and the word to get out. I have been told (scolded?) more than once by agents who say that I am the "only" inspector who has ever made an issue of alarm contacts/switches.

    Rick--I didn't mean to give any offense. But that's why we're here, isn't it...to learn from others who have seen it happen?


  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Ormond Beach, Florida
    Posts
    25,314

    Default Re: alarm contacts in windows

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Cantrell View Post
    "Alarm installers can cause a good deal of damage in a short period of time."
    Yes, as can any trade or contractor.
    ANY person who drills a hole through the bottom of ANY window which has a label on it stating that doing so voids the warranty needs to pay for installing a new window, one without holes through the bottom.

    "A wise man once said that window sills should not have holes in them!"
    "Should not", not "Shall not".
    Seems to be that 'drilling holes through the bottom will void the warranty' is the same thing as saying *"shall not"*, not "should not".

    Why anyone would want to void a manufacturer's warranty and take that liability on themselves is beyond me.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Rockwall Texas
    Posts
    4,517

    Default Re: alarm contacts in windows

    I have this picture I took a few weeks ago of what I've been seeing lately. The alarm contact is not sealed at all and when the window is opened, it pulls the wire up out of the frame.

    rick

    ***IMPORTANT*** You Need To Register To View Images ***IMPORTANT*** You Need To Register To View Images

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Chicago, IL
    Posts
    2,797

    Default Re: alarm contacts in windows

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Cantrell View Post
    I don't know who was more stupid the installer for drilling a hole and then not even sealing it, or the window manufacturer for making a window with a built in water trough.

    Stupid is assuming that any window assembly you manufacture - especially a double hung window - can be built or will remain impervious to water.

    Smart is assuming that it will leak, and making provision for controlled removal of leakage to the outside of the assembly.

    Michael Thomas
    Paragon Property Services Inc., Chicago IL
    http://paragoninspects.com

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Garland, TX
    Posts
    605

    Default Re: alarm contacts in windows

    Some of the builders that are proactive about halting moisture intrusion have stopped their alarm companies from drilling sills and switched to these type switch contact sensors. It takes communication to convince them in order to avoid structure damage like this you have to use these side sensors.

    ***IMPORTANT*** You Need To Register To View Images ***IMPORTANT*** You Need To Register To View Images
    badair http://www.adairinspection.com Garland, TX 75042 TREC # 4563
    Commercial-Residential-Construction-EIFS-Infrared Thermography
    life is the random lottery of events followed by numerous narrow escapes

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Spring Hill (Nashville), TN
    Posts
    5,829

    Default Re: alarm contacts in windows

    I vote for getting rid of the contacts/switches and just going with an IR movement device pointing down the main halls and in the large rooms. Add in a glass breakage detector and you have a fairly good system that will still let everyone know that somebody broke in the house. IMO, window alarms are not the way to go, especially when many of the windows on a home are over five feet from the ground.

    This would solve the dilemma!

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Chicago, IL
    Posts
    2,797

    Default Re: alarm contacts in windows

    Barry,

    Can I use that picture to explain potential damage to clients?

    Michael Thomas
    Paragon Property Services Inc., Chicago IL
    http://paragoninspects.com

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Austin, TX
    Posts
    375

    Default Re: alarm contacts in windows

    I'm with JP on this one. The sticker is right there and I see alarm switch holes drilled right through the sticker some times.

    I often wonder what part of voiding the warranty these people don't understand. It is pretty simple.

    Even if the switch is well sealed and never leaks, there are other things that can go wrong on the window that have nothing to do with holes in the sill and the window now has a nullified warranty.

    I list it in my reports on new construction inspections when I see it, so that the buyer knows about it before they close on the house and can address the issue with the bulder.

    Eric


  21. #21
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Garland, TX
    Posts
    605

    Default Re: alarm contacts in windows

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Thomas View Post
    Barry,

    Can I use that picture to explain potential damage to clients?
    After all I've ripped off from you, I guess so

    badair http://www.adairinspection.com Garland, TX 75042 TREC # 4563
    Commercial-Residential-Construction-EIFS-Infrared Thermography
    life is the random lottery of events followed by numerous narrow escapes

  22. #22
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Rockwall Texas
    Posts
    4,517

    Default Re: alarm contacts in windows

    Barry,

    Even the side mount sensors have their own problems.

    From todays inspection

    ***IMPORTANT*** You Need To Register To View Images ***IMPORTANT*** You Need To Register To View Images

  23. #23
    Ryan Johnson's Avatar
    Ryan Johnson Guest

    Default Re: alarm contacts in windows

    Unfortunately, as a homeowner, I have just realized that I've created this problem with some alarm sensors I installed about a year ago - the issue is not serious yet but there are signs of moisture coming through the lower hole in the bottom of the vinyl frame that is not currently sealed just as Kevin mentioned. (The sensors are sealed with silicone where installed in the top section of the vinyl frame but the hole through the bottom section of the frame is not.)

    Outside of the ideal replace the window solution, what is the best option to seal the penetration in the bottom section of the frame? I was considering removing the sensors from their top mounting hole and either

    1. enlarge the top hole to provide good access to seal the penetration around the wire with silicone OR
    2. seal the penetration in the lower hole as is using expandable foam OR
    3. enlarge the top hole and remove the wire from the sensor and seal with a "patch" of some sort bonded to the vinyl OR
    ...

    Any thoughts on the ideal situation from an inspectors standpoint would be helpful Thanks.

    Last edited by Ryan Johnson; 02-04-2010 at 09:44 PM. Reason: more clarity added

  24. #24
    Bert de Haan's Avatar
    Bert de Haan Guest

    Default Re: alarm contacts in windows

    I suggest to stay away from your option 2.
    Expandable foam is not a good water seal.
    The foam may (likely will) expand more than you want and hinder the proper draining through the weep holes.

    You'd have to enlarge the upper hole enough to get access to the lower not only with a caulking tube but also with something to clean the lower hole. There is sure to be enough dirt around the hole to keep the caulking from sticking.


  25. #25
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Vancouver - Canada
    Posts
    221

    Default Re: alarm contacts in windows

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Hurst View Post
    I have this picture I took a few weeks ago of what I've been seeing lately. The alarm contact is not sealed at all and when the window is opened, it pulls the wire up out of the frame.

    rick

    It looks like the window was closed onto a freshly siliconed contact and the silicone adhered to the wrong surface

    Joe Klampfer RHI
    www.myinspection.ca
    Pacific Home Inspections

  26. #26
    Ken Garrett's Avatar
    Ken Garrett Guest

    Default Re: alarm contacts in windows

    It seems lately that new homes have gotten away from installing the magnetic contacts at the bottom of the windows. The photo attached is from a home that is about two years old. A national homebuilder that constructed over 3000 homes locally a year a few years ago. I would expect to be seeing more of these damaged window stools and framing due to this extremely poor construction practice.

    IMG_4943.jpg


  27. #27
    Stacey Van Houtan's Avatar
    Stacey Van Houtan Guest

    Default Re: alarm contacts in windows

    I forget what study i read this in , but aprox 10% of vinyl window leaked in this study, at least one manafactuer of vinyl windosw switched to NOT using a internal drain type of extrusion and is using the top of the sill as the drainage path and it extends past the jambs.

    Driling a hole is not a good idea, but i have not seen any large amouts of damaged cause by this in my area. I assume all window will leak. Thus the change in the code to require pan flashing,

    We have added a clear viny hose to the tip of a caulk gun to extend the reach of the tip, this would easily reach to the bottom of the extrusion and seal that hole.


  28. #28
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Ormond Beach, Florida
    Posts
    25,314

    Default Re: alarm contacts in windows

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Garrett View Post
    I would expect to be seeing more of these damaged window stools and framing due to this extremely poor construction practice.
    Quote Originally Posted by Stacey Van Houtan View Post
    Driling a hole is not a good idea, but i have not seen any large amouts of damaged cause by this in my area.
    That is because the damage caused by this is concealed within the wall, until the wall is so bad that the framing itself has turned to mush along with everything else. Only then are you able to "see it".

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •