A couple of things that we at Glass-Rite enjoy the most about our work are the visual transformations of a building when replacing the windows as well as the savings we’re able to provide in terms of energy costs.  In fact, we recently replaced all of the windows at the Kappa Kappa Gamma local chapter here in Albuquerque, New Mexico and wanted to share the process with our readers.

Facade before window replacement

Facade after window replacement

As some background to the local Kappa Kappa Gamma chapter, the chapter was founded in 1918. Originally, the sorority had no real chapter house, and because of that, keeping rental houses proved to be very difficult.  In 1934, their first chapter house was built, but since the girls were mostly minors and could not hold titles to a property, a corporation was formed to take over the housing logistics.  The most recent activity of the House Board was in the mid 1960’s when the chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma moved into their current location at 1620 Mesa Vista Rd NE.  Over the years, many updates have been made to keep the house feeling like a home. For example, last year the Kappas updated all their furniture and had new carpeting put in throughout the house.  This year, they needed new windows and Glass-Rite was proudly up for the task.

The following are a few images before the project started.

The Kappas were looking to update their house not only in style, but in efficiency as well.  As the house was built in the early 60’s, the original windows had single-pane glass units set into wood frames.  The original window frames, though authentic, needed lots of maintenance and upkeep to maintain a good appearance.  The old wood frames also let in quite a bit of air, and many of the original windows had grids on the glass.  The bottom story also had security bars, and with the grids behind the bars, the windows looked very cluttered.  The house needed something with minimum maintenance, better solar heat reduction, noise reduction, and of course had to be affordable.

The current Environmental Protection Agency law states that any construction project involving the walls of a house built before 1978 must be tested for presence of lead paint.  As part of the process, Glass-Rite tested every window inside and out for lead paint before proceeding with any removal or installation.  Many companies use a lead test that involves removing a chip of paint to test it with a chemical that shows a color if lead paint is present.  The problem with that test is that you must sample every window in two places (inside and out) in order to remain in compliance with the EPA.  That’s a lot of paint chips and testing per house, and the test has also proven to be inaccurate in many cases. At Glass-Rite we use an x-ray fluorescence, or XRF, analyzer.  Using the XRF enables us to see what’s beneath the surface all the way through a frame of a window or wall.  The handheld XRF gun works on the same principle as an x-ray machine, but with no harmful radiation. The XRF analyzers are certified by the EPA, and are the most accurate tools for lead testing.  Several of our employees have gone through Radiation Safety courses and are certified to use the XRF analyzers.  For more information about EPA, visit their website at http://www.epa.gov/lead/index.html.

Below are a few images of the project in process.

The product that we used for the Kappa house were Glass-Rite’s own brand of Premium Commercial grade white vinyl windows, which are manufactured right here in Albuquerque at our shop at 808 Gibson Blvd SE.  The windows have SolarBan 60 Low-E glass, argon gas between the two panes, and are Energy Star rated.  Sufficient to say, these windows are designed for our New Mexico climate and temperature, and are definitely built to last.

At Glass-Rite, we build our windows down to the 1/8th of an inch, and therefore we were able to match the odd openings of the old windows exactly, which meant that there were no extra trim needed on the interior or exterior of the windows. The new vinyl windows were installed with non-expandable foam insulation, and the frames are screwed directly into the old jambs through the side walls of the vinyl frame.

This was a smooth window installation project because the window sizes were customized vs. being a standard window put in a non-standard hole.  Plus, our in-house installers know our window products very well as sometimes working with outsourced installation contractors can be a challenge.  With the know-how of our installers and estimators, the Kappa job was finished ahead of schedule.

With the new Glass-Rite windows in place, the residents are already noticing a difference.  The house retains a cooler temperature during the day because the hours is not gaining as much heat from the sun.  Residents have also commented on how much quieter the new windows have made the rooms. One person even said that they hadn’t noticed a copper dormer roof over the main front window before because the previous bars had made the window so distracting.  Now the views from the great room and dining area are clear and the spaces are brighter than ever.  Ultimately, the transformation of the Kappa house is one we felt privileged to be a part of, and we look forward to the house, with its new look, continuing to be a place of good will, learning, and charity.

Below are a few after images of the project.

Funnily enough, the estimator that was sent to measure for the project remembers the Kappa house from his youth.  Chester Gore met his wife Ruth when they were both students at UNM.  Ruth is a Kappa Kappa Gamma Alum and Chester remembers visiting her at the Mesa Verde house.