Friday, February 03, 2006

Understanding Self-Cleaning Windows

The concept of self-cleaning windows is certainly an attractive one, and it is easy to understand why this new innovation has attracted so much attention. If there is one chore that homeowners could eliminate from their lives, cleaning the windows would probably be at the top of most lists. The good news is that there is a new kind of glass on the market that can actually break down dirt, reducing the appearance of those troublesome spots and streaks, all with very little cleaning required.

It is important to take the following things into consideration when determining if self-cleaning windows are the right choice for you.

1. Make sure that self-cleaning windows are appropriate and will work for your climate. Self-cleaning windows will work better in humid regions than in dry places, since they require some water in order to wash away the dirt that is broken down.

2. Have an understanding of the chemical nature of the glass. The ultraviolet rays of the sun will activate a transparent, durable coating of titanium oxide which is chemically fused on to the glass. Even when the weather is cloudy, the action of the photo-catalytic chemicals will oxidize dirt and prevent it from sticking to the surface.

3. Normal panes of glass are water repellent. Water will slide down, leaving streaks of dirt and grime behind as the remaining water dries. Self-cleaning glass, on the other hand, is hydrophilic. This means that it forces the water to spread evenly in a single sheet, thus washing away the dirt that has been loosened by the chemicals contained in the glass. This sheeting action lets the window dry fast, with virtually no spotting or streaking.

4. Be sure to research various kinds of self-cleaning glass at home improvement stores, glass contractors and on the internet. There are two major manufacturers offering self-cleaning glass – Pilkington North America and PPG Industries.

5. Be sure to do a benefit analysis to determine if self-cleaning windows are worth the expense. Windows that use self-cleaning glass technology are typically between 10 and 20% more expensive than ordinary windows. You may want to install self-cleaning windows only in those areas of the home that are hard to reach.

6. Plan the installation of the self-cleaning windows carefully. The building of a new home is a good time to purchase self-cleaning windows, as is a major upgrade.

7. Think about combining your new self-cleaning windows with insulating glass in order to save on energy costs as well.

8. During droughts and extended dry spells, it is a good idea to spray the windows lightly with a garden hose. Self-cleaning windows need moisture in order to effectively remove dirt and grime.


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