Image Credit: clariemarie
Everything has a lifespan – and double glazing is no exception. Last year, several larger window installers reported that they had begun replacing more first generation uPVC units than timber or aluminum windows, and that trend looks set to continue into 2009 and beyond.
One of the more common reasons for replacing double glazing units is that the old units have begun to fail – this could be anything from chipped sills to misting up glass, but also something as simple as broken handles, locks and mechanisms can often bring about the end of otherwise perfectly sound window units.
This is partly because there is a truly staggering variety of different locking mechanisms currently in circulation. Aside from individual lock and handle choices at the time of fitting, different extrusion and frame manufacturers use different preferred hardware suppliers, leading to a overwhelming array of options and variations.
So how can you go about finding the one you need for your faulty mechanism?
First of all, you could get expert help by finding free quotes and local double glazing suppliers from WindowQuoter.co.uk. Otherwise, read on for some expert tips and advice.
Identifying the manufacturer.
The key to getting the right replacement lock or mechanism is identifying the manufacturer. You can often find the manufacturer’s name on the ‘lock strip’ (the small strip of metal) covering the lock itself, visible when the door is open.
Widely used manufacturers include: ABT, Avocet, Cego, Coldseal, ERA, Ferco, Fuhr, Fullex, GU, KFV, Lockmaster, Milamaster, Maco, Mila, Millenco, Roto, Saracen, St Helens, Surelock, Union and Winkhaus.
If you can’t find the manufacturer, then you’ll need the measurements between the door handle spindle and the lock barrel (center points) as well as the distance from the outer lock strip to the center of the spindle hole.
It will also be helpful to know whether the handle is a ‘Wind Up’, where the key has to be turned several times to engage the locks, or Lever, where the door handle has to be lifted to engage the locks before turning the key.
Then you need to identify the types of locking point used (some doors may have more than one). From a upturned hook to the following types: Deadbolt (like a 5 lever lock), Roller Cam (small round studs that slide up/down on a moving cam), Mushroom Cam (similar to roller cam but the head fits into a specific grove), Finger Bolt (a finger like protrusion into the surrounding frame), Centre Latch (like a yale lock), Anti Lift Pin & Hook (upturned hook with a solid pin below the hook that stops the hook being lifted off).
There are online services where you can scan or take digital photographs of your lock mechanisms and they’ll help identify the correct replacement (if it’s still manufactured).
Get A Handle on the Situation.
So, we’ve got the lock sorted, but the stock and barrel are causing trouble. Or if not that, then at least the handle. You need to identify which type of handle you’re replacing – The usual choices are:
Lever uPVC Door Handles – a typical door handle found on many doors including french doors.
Lever/Pad uPVC Door Handles – these may include a more bulbous handle.
Espag uPVC Window Handles – typical window handle usually featuring a bush button / key lock set into the handle.
Cockspur uPVC Window Handles – these may also feature locks, the catch is a visible part of handle that locates in adjoining slot/bracket on the frame.
Tilt n Turn uPVC Window Handles – these may have a slightly different cam arrangement.
Patio Door handles – a common double sided handle joined by a single cam. The locking mechanism is usually separate.
When replacing hinges, care needs to be taken that you not only identify the right mechanism, but also the right one for the right window or door. Once again, there’s a range of different hinges and you’ll have to figure out which of the following is what you’ve got:
Flag Hinge – as used on doors. It’s advised to replace all the hinges as those that still work may have suffered extra stress taking the weight of the broken hinge and may fail themselves sooner rather than later),
Butt Fit door hinges – these look more like a traditional ‘pinned’ hinge – much narrower and slimmer in appearance
Friction stays – these are the most common form of hinges, fitted to most double glazed windows. Variants include fire escape, restricted child safety and combination child safety/fire escape friction mechanisms.
Where a window may already have child or fire escape hinges fitted, it’s critical to replace with like for like. Replacement hinges are usually supplied in pairs and providing they are the same length, track width and stack height as the old one, then they should be fine. Online retailers usually sell replacement screws as well.
Stack height (the total height or thickness of the folded hinge assembly when viewed from the side) is usually either 13/14mm or the 17mm (high stack) variant. Again, most suppliers will sell spacing kits so that a standard stack height can be ‘packed out’ to the higher stack height.
What to do Now
So you’ve identified the manufacturer, the make and model. You’ve got the right locking mechanism for the window or door in question and now all you’ve got to do is climb up a ladder and perform mid air acrobatics. Sounds easy doesn’t it?
With the average life span of double glazing at around 15-20 years, It’s no wonder that many people are now replacing first generation uPVC double glazing. If you can identify the locks, if you can find a supplier and if you can fit them, new locks and hinges may give your old double glazing a few more years life. Often, however, failing locks and mechanisms are an early sign that they should be getting a few quotes for replacing rather than repairing and if you’ve managed to read this far then you can’t really blame them can you?
In any case, if it all sounds too much we’re here to help – you can get a free instant quote for any window replacement work you need from WindowQuoter.co.uk.
*Re-printed from an article in our April 14th 2009 (monthly) email newsletter to over 300,000 homeowners in the UK.
For more information on any home improvement, visit home improvement quotes .co.uk