Is it a bad idea to install windows in the winter time? Not necessarily. Replacing windows in extreme temperatures can be very difficult unless you use a high quality vinyl. Low quality vinyl can expand and warp slightly in very cold or hot weather, but not all vinyl is created equal. The number that will help you the most when looking at a window to see if it is susceptible to the conditions is the Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC). It is literally on every window label in the United States. The NFRC is responsible for regulating these labels. a SHGC is expressed between 0 and 1, the lower the number the better.
Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) includes the effects of heat and cold on the frame. This number is therefore very accurate in the average heat and cold gain of the entire window. This chart made by Energy Star shows the recommended SHGC for each climate in America. If you live in New England, they recommend a SHGC of <.30. All of the windows we install are less than .30, with our best windows around .21 or .22. This means that while you may not be able to install all windows during extreme conditions, you can certainly install ours. Our windows do not expand or contract to the point where we cannot install them. So what about other things besides the window?
Well, make sure if you are insulating the frame you use low-expansion foam. Along with the window, whatever you use to insulate the window will also expand. Stuffing in fiberglass insulation works to a degree, but a really nice energy barrier can be made using low-expansion foam. As its name states, it will not expand in extreme hot and cold weather. Below is a video of us using a low-expansion foam on a window we installed.
Is there a window guaranteed not to expand and contract? Fiberglass reinforcement in the frame will almost always eliminate the need for higher quality glass or aluminum in regards to heat and cold expansion and contraction. Fiberglass expands at the same rate as glass, and having a reinforced frame will make sure the frame is never in jeopardy.
A&A Services installs windows all throughout the winter time in Essex, Middlesex, and Suffolk Counties of Massachusetts and the New Hampshire Seacoast. We are passionate about proper window installation and encourage anyone in the area to give us a call for a free window estimate.