Aluminum Windows, Are They Really That Bad?

If you’re in the market for replacement windows or if you are comparing different home improvement projects and currently have aluminum windows and you’ve done any research regarding aluminum windows surely you’ve come across some information at least a little bit of information. It seems that the only information out there is about how bad they are. In fact you would be hard pressed to find any positive information about aluminum windows on the web, and the question I get most from my home improvement clients is, “Are they really as bad as they make them out to be?”

Unfortunately the answer is, “It depends.” I know you were hoping for a quick and easy answer but the fact remains that it really does depend on what’s important to you. If you want a quick answer so you can move on to a more interesting topic then, no, aluminum windows aren’t as bad as most people make them out to be, in fact, there are a lot of pro’s when it comes to aluminum windows and depending on your situation, they may outweigh the cons.

Pro #1 – Structurally, aluminum is the sturdiest compound to make windows out of. If you leave a piece of white aluminum window frame material out in the sun in Death Valley for 20 years, other than some dust and debris, wipe it down and it is going to look exactly the same as it did 20 years ago. I doubt you can say that about vinyl windows and you definitely can’t say that about wood. PVC Vinyl windows are getting better and better all the time but no matter how many UV inhibitors they put it the resin, there is only so much abuse a vinyl window can take.

Pro#2 – Big windows are a possibility with aluminum. Due to the structural soundness of aluminum, virtually the sky is the limit when it comes to window sizes. That’s why skyscrapers are made with aluminum windows; you see there is no such thing as vinyl or wood windows in skyscrapers. So if you’re building a large custom home or are remodeling your home and want some big expansive windows, you will most likely be pushed towards aluminum otherwise your sizes will be limited. With a very few minor exceptions almost all commercial building is done with aluminum windows or storefronts. Very rarely will you walk in to a 7-11 or grocery store and see a wood or vinyl entry door. They are aluminum because aluminum is proven to last the longest of all available choices. You will see fiberglass entry doors in some commercial buildings and yes fiberglass is almost as impervious to the elements as aluminum, however, in most designers opinions, aluminum has a nicer finish and fiberglass still needs maintenance such as painting or staining.

Pro#3 – Aluminum windows are the more cost effective choice, at least as an initial investment is concerned. Of course there are varying quality levels and yes Brand A window may cost more than Brand B Vinyl window, however for comparable levels of quality, aluminum windows will be the more cost effective. For example, Milgard Windows, lowest price window line is their aluminum window. The glass which makes up most of the window is the same across all products, but the aluminum window is the cheapest window they offer.

Pro#4 – You usually have more color choices with aluminum. Colored vinyl windows are not quite ready for mass production yet, especially in extreme climates like southern Nevada, Arizona and the California desert. Many window manufacturers refuse to sell their white or tan vinyl in the desert let alone a colored version. With wood windows you get many color choices, but once again it is the aluminum on the exterior that is a different color. Aluminum windows are pretty much the only window I would trust in a black or dark brown color in high temperature regions. Aluminum can be easily painted to match any color you like at a reasonable cost. This is why you still see them in large custom homes, because they are the only window that gives you the color and size options often needed when designing a large custom home.

So as you can see, there are a lot of positives, so why do they get such a bad rap? Well there is only one real negative when it comes to aluminum windows and it’s a big one especially nowadays.

Con#1 – They are extremely inefficient when it comes to thermal energy protection. Energy efficiency is a major topic these days and if you want to sell a product you had better make sure that it is energy efficient or else it is doomed. Therefore all competing products continuously tout how inefficient they are and how energy efficient, vinyl, wood and fiberglass are. So there is nothing to say about that, the fact is yes, aluminum windows aren’t as energy efficient as the other alternatives.

Metal conducts heat. If its hot outside and you’re on the inside of your home and feel the frame of the aluminum window then it is going to feel hot. Same holds true in the winter, the frames are going to be cold and the aluminum will transfer that temperature difference into your home. There’s nothing you can do about it. So you have to decide if energy efficiency is your main concern. If it is, I wouldn’t recommend purchasing aluminum windows.

However if you are dead set on aluminum windows but are disheartened about the whole energy efficiency thing I have some good news for you. There is a way you can get the best of both worlds. There is a product called “Thermal Break Windows.” These are aluminum windows that are actually energy efficient as well. In layman’s terms the aluminum is basically “broken” up by a filament that prevents heat transfer through the window frame. Therefore the exterior portion of the frame is separated from the interior frame by a rubber energy efficient compound that allows you to have an the sturdiness and reliability of aluminum, while still maintaining energy efficiency.

How to Repair Aluminum Wiring Hazards in Your Home

How You Can Keep Your Family Safe From The Dangers Of Aluminum Wiring Without Ripping Out Your Walls… I’ll also show you how to repair it without spending a truckload of cash doing it.

If your home was built during the late sixties to the mid seventies, there is a good chance that aluminum wiring was used instead of copper for its electrical circuits. Aluminum was used because there was a shortage of copper due to the Vietnam War.

However, over time, trouble emerged – namely… homes were burning down with the aluminum connections to devices – outlets and switches – as the cause. As a matter of fact, research conducted by Franklin Research Institute for Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) revealed that homes built with aluminum wiring are 55 times more likely to catch fire than homes wired with copper. There is nothing wrong with the aluminum itself. It is an excellent conductor and less costly than copper. The problems arise because aluminum expands and contracts far faster than copper when used. This can cause a loose connection, creating gaps that can cause sparking and fire. Compounding the problem further is the fact that aluminum almost immediately starts to oxidize the minute it is exposed to the oxygen in our air. This reaction forms an oxide coating on the wire much like rust forms on iron.

This oxide reduces the ability for the wire to conduct electricity resulting in even more heat. Eventually, it can become hot enough to melt or burn fixtures – such as wall outlets and switches – where the exposed aluminum is in contact with the brass connections. So the problem is the exposed aluminum around the connections – and the connections themselves. When deemed to be unsafe in 1974, aluminum wiring was all but discontinued in home applications. Unfortunately, it was too late for the homes already installed with it.

If your home is fitted with aluminum wiring, you can be facing other problems aside from the obvious danger of fire. Some insurance companies will not insure homes with aluminum wiring unless it is updated to present day electrical code. This can cause untimely and unwelcome financial obligations if you were trying to sell your home or get your renovations passed by a government inspector. Furthermore, if your insurance company discovers that a fire in your home was caused by aluminum wiring connections, they may reject your claim for financial compensation. Now there are several solutions to this bad situation, but the first thing you have to do is determine if you have aluminum wiring to begin with. You can get an electrical contractor overseen by a master electrician to take a look at it for you.

But the easiest way to do this is to look at the printed or embossed markings on the outer jacket of the electric wiring, which are visible in unfinished walls or ceilings in basements, attics, or garages. Cable with aluminum conductors will have “Al” or “Aluminum” and other information marked on one side of the cable jacket every few feet along its length. If for whatever reason, you cannot see any wiring, then there is another, albeit a little more involved way of checking.

Here are the 3 simple steps:

Step 1 – plug a hair dryer or light into any wall outlet, turn it on and leave it on.

Step 2 – go to your circuit panel and trip (turn off) the circuit breaker corresponding to that outlet. You’ll know you have the right breaker when your hair dryer or light is off when you check back on it.

Step 3 – unplug the device and remove the outlet from the wall and check the wiring attached to it. DO NOT DETACH THE WIRING. You can make the connection worse if you do.

You should be able to see the bare wire beneath the screws. It is easy to recognize aluminum because of its colour. If you an orange color, this is copper. However, if the exposed wire beneath the screws is white, it is aluminum. Got it?

So if you have aluminum wires – now what? At this time, although you may be tempted, I must emphasize not to try to determine if your wiring is failing! Repeat… DO NOT TRY TO DO THIS YOURSELF.

You could be electrocuted – or you could make the problem worse.

Unfortunately, failing aluminum-wired connections seldom give easily detected warning signs. Aluminum-wired connections and splices have been reported to fail and overheat without any prior indications or problems. However some signs may make themselves evident. Signs of electrical system problems include hot-to-the touch face plates on receptacles or switches; flickering lights; circuits that don’t work; the smell of burning plastic at outlets or switches; or unusual static on radio or television.

However, if you notice any signs of a problem, have a qualified master electrician determine the cause. Upon our investigation, there appears to be a considerable amount of confusion about how to best correct the problem. There are several right and wrong solutions offered by both electricians and government alike for a permanent repair of the hazardous aluminum connections. I’ll cover the right ways shortly, but the wrong ways first. There are several other common, yet dangerous solutions promoted by naive electricians and even governments themselves: One of them is to use so-called aluminum friendly devices such as wall outlets and light switches. However, according to extensive lab testing reviewed by the CPSC, it is determined that these devices fail on a regular basis under normal stress. Don’t use them.

Another method is to crimp the aluminum to the copper in pigtailing with regular crimpers and connectors. These tools are readily available at hardware stores and are to be avoided. The last and very popular method promoted by electricians is to twist the wires together with a twist connector and anti-oxidant cream. However, in CPSC-sponsored laboratory testing and in-the-field life tests, a substantial number of these connectors overheated severely. Be especially wary of an electrician promoting this type of fix, not because he is an evil-minded fellow, but because he is unaware of these tests and blindly believes the government knew what they are doing when they approved them.

They were approved back in 1980 and are still officially approved in both Canada and the US. Don’t allow them to be used in your home. Now… the right ways to correct this problem. Independent tests accepted by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission report there are only two that are safe… The first is to outright replace the aluminum wiring with copper wiring. However, this is not a simple fix and can run you thousands – if not tens of thousands of dollars. In most cases, it is unnecessary and will make your home look like war zone while it is being completed over a period of weeks. Electricians promoting a complete replacement of the wiring are, quite frankly, trying to land themselves a nice juicy job at your expense. This is not the type of electrician you want.

Although it seems like the safest solution, the remaining solution is just as effective, long-lasting and far more economical. This method is to connect the aluminum wiring to a short piece of copper wire, which is then connected to the existing fixtures. Called ‘pigtailing’, this method is very safe when done with the right connectors. There are electricians out there that are saying this is unsafe – but it is the only safe way – aside from replacing the aluminum with copper! However – DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS REPAIR YOURSELF.

Because of the nature of aluminum and incorrectly installed connectors, the connections can be just as bad as the originals – or even worse! Don’t do it! Having said that, let’s move along.

There are only two acceptable connectors for the job of joining the aluminum and copper wires together. The trademark names of these connectors are Copalum and AlumiConn. The Copalum connector requires a crimping tool that can only be operated by an electrician who is certified to use it. The AlumiConn connector requires an experienced electrician with skill, attention and a special ‘touch’ to ensure its effectiveness and safety. Once installed, the new connections will be as safe and enduring as completely replacing the aluminum circuits with copper.

One final safety measure you can take to ensure the safety of your electrical circuits is to install Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters. Although not necessary in the repair of the aluminum wire connections, these devices are overall protection for your entire electrical circuitry. They shutdown and protect a circuit in the blink of an eye if the slightest spark occurs anywhere, thereby virtually eliminating the chance for fire to occur. In new construction, they are law and are used with copper circuitry as well.

Even if you were not to install them with your aluminum connections update, at some time, it would be best to install in your home.

Check the electrical contractors in your area for an educated and experienced Master Electrician. They can put your mind at ease by making the proper corrections for you.

Aluminum wiring need not be of undue concern as long as you have it properly inspected and repaired.

The Advantages of Aluminum Herb Grinders

In order for a grinder to be termed the best regardless of what you are looking to grind, the grinder has to pass a test. It has to fulfill a number of factors in order to be able to provide efficient service while making it easy for you to grind your herbs. It is a fact that grinders come in different sizes and types but the most important factor to be used when looking to crown the best one in the business is the materials used to make the grinder. This is because the materials that are used to make the grinder will dictate whether your choice will be durable; provide you with top quality service or whether or not you can count on an easy grinding process with good quality grind.

One of the most common materials used to make grinders is aluminum and unlike wood or plastic grinders aluminum grinders are the best one in the market. There is a number of reasons way aluminum or metal grinders are some of the best. It goes without saying however that an aluminum grinder will cost you slightly more than a plastic or wooden grinder for the following reasons.

Durability:

Nobody wants to spend more than $70 on a grinder that is less likely to last for more than one year. If you choose to purchase an aluminum grinder you are likely to spend that amount or more depending on the number of chambers that the grinder has. The beauty of an aluminum grinder is that it is made of some of the most durable material there is. Metal lasts a long time and depending on whether the grinder is titanium coated as many of the ones designed nowadays are you can expect that your grinder will last much longer than just one year. When compared to plastic and wooden grinders aluminum grinders are the best in terms of durability. This means that even if you spend more than $70 on an aluminum grinder, you can expect that it will last a lot longer than a plastic or wood grinder.

Efficiency:

You also don’t want a grinder that will not provide good quality grind in the shortest time possible. This is a problem that you are less likely to experience when using an aluminum grinder. The reason why metal grinders are considered the best grinders in the business is not because they are durable but because of the fact that they are efficient and will get the job done almost perfectly. When you buy an aluminum grinder you will get the cool grinder in terms of efficiency for the simple reason that they have been designed for the job and that they are an improvement of wooden and plastic grinders. Aluminum grinders re lightweight since most of the design is dedicated to the grinding process

Further making an aluminum grinder the best grinder for the job is the fact that the grinder comes with a pollen screen that is meant to pollinate your herbs during the grinding process. Aluminum grinders will also come with a separate compartment to store the pollen. This is a far cry from wooden and plastic grinders that are less likely to have a pollen compartment built into them.

The aluminum grinders also have the sharpest teeth of any grinder which means that the grinding process will be easy and very fast. This is the best grinder for the job and one that will not waste your time.

Easy to clean:

Because of the fact that many aluminum grinders are entirely made from metal means that they are easier to clean than plastic or wooden grinders. They also have fewer detachable parts making them very easy to dismantle and put back together after cleaning. But perhaps the one thing that makes an aluminum grinder the best grinder in the business is the fact that there is less risk of your grind being contaminated by the grinder during the grinding process. Plastic grinders have been known to contaminate the grind with plastic shavings that can be quite the health hazard as do wooden grinders especially those that are painted or finished with varnish. There will also be less leftover pieces of the herb being ground with an aluminum grinder due to the fact that the blades are usually sharp and provide you with very good quality grind.

The efficiency of an aluminum grinder also means that your herbs are able to retain their potency and flavor since the process is fast and doesn’t overly grind the herbs. In other words aluminum grinders provide you with the best grinding experience and hence carry the day as the best grinders in the market.

The only disadvantage is that there are so many to choose from meaning that you will have to be very vigilant if you are going to buy the best grinder in the market. We have already established that the best grinder in the market is one that is made of aluminum but so very many manufacturers are coming up with different designs of the aluminum grinders in an attempt to make them more efficient. This is a good thing except that it becomes a big problem trying to find the right one. This problem is easily solved by making sure that you are well aware of what you are looking for in a grinder and how much you are willing to spend.