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Community and Q&A

Remove newly installed windows: hard or easy?

Roger_S39 | Posted in General Questions on

Is it hard to remove newly installed Windows – installed 24-48 hrs ago?

Would it be relatively easy and no/minor damage to windows & Zip sheathing or, would the opposite eventuate?

Windows are vinyl installed with nails and silicone.

Considering removal to improve tape flashing around framing.

Thank you.

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  1. Matthew_M | | #1

    Assuming they're nailed in with their nailing fins it'll only be annoying. Do you have a picture of what the current situation is?

    1. Roger_S39 | | #2

      At this stage: no picture.

      Would the window simply pull out once the nails are removed or would there need to be some sort of "slicing" method with a razor blade etc. to cut the silicone to allow the window out?

      1. Matthew_M | | #3

        I'm sorry, I missed that silicone was used as well. This is, frankly, going to suck.

        Is your concern that they didn't tape/flash between the sheathing and framing of the rough opening?
        Or is it that you want to see more tape/flashing around all of the framing?

        It'd be nice to get some pictures to give specific advice, before you go through the trouble of removing the windows.

  2. 730d | | #4

    If the siding is not installed Not so bad.
    Put real time stamp on it to remove and replace, real not wishful.
    Times by real hourly rate. Times two for a budget number. Compare this agaainst $500 an hour law firms. You are the decider. Judge not others as you be judged.
    Bottem line, if you are worried about it just do it.

  3. spenceday | | #5

    The silicone is going to be very frustrating to cut through. Use a long blade utility knife and hit it with WD 40 before cutting to keep it from gumming up. Then you have the job of removing the silicone from the flange and sheathing or flashing to get a flat surface to reinstall the window onto. Can you tape over the flange properly at this point or do you need to start over? What is necessitating the need to remove the windows?

    1. Roger_S39 | | #6

      Consideration of removal based off of - if:

      4" Zip tape used (instead of 6") to flash window sill - only half the depth of 2X4 window sill flashed with tape - leaving back half (interior side) of horizontal window sill uncovered.

      Sill flashed only with 1 strip of zip tape and ideally want more tape coverage/Zip stretch tap in bottom corners of sill with a full coverage over horizontal timber 2X4 window sill (because commonly said bottom corners of vinyl windows are its Achilles heel).

      Thinking based off of the saying commonly said: "2 types of windows: those that leak and those that will". Exterior zip flashing from window to zip is fine - just ideally wanting to ensure long life before any water causes rot/mold problems 3-10+ years from now.

  4. GBA Editor
    Brian Pontolilo | | #7

    Hi Roger.

    Do you know if there is enough space in your rough opening to add a piece of beveled siding below the window to slope the sill towards the exterior? I would assume there is, it actually doesn't require that much room. But if for some reason there wasn't, then the idea of leaving the bottom flange untaped doesn't make any sense and you may be better off just taping the bottom flange with a vapor-open tape. In other words, make sure that you are going to be able to actually improve the situation before pulling out all of the windows, which is not going to be easy (to answer your question). Check out this FHB video series on installing windows for best practices.

    1. brendanalbano | | #11

      If there isn't enough room for inserting a piece of beveled siding to slope towards the exterior, it seems to me that there is still value in using a backdam and letting the window drain under the bottom flange.

      Christine Williamson just had a nice post on her instagram showing a backdam as an alternative to a sloped sill:

      Hammer and Hand also shows a very low profile metal backdam in their door installation best practices, which could easily be adapted to a window:

      1. GBA Editor
        Brian Pontolilo | | #12

        Absolutely Brendan. I agree. I should have mentioned a back dam as a possibility as well.

        If you can get a pitch or back dam under the window and leave the bottom flange open, that's a good install. However, if there were nothing but a level rough sill sitting under the window (and who knows, the sill could even have a slight pitch towards the interior), then I'd consider taping the bottom flange (again with a vapor-open tape).

  5. Roger_S39 | | #8

    Hi Brian,

    Thank you for the reply.

    At this stage, not sure about existing space in rough opening below window. If a vapor open tape is to be used - do you have something great to recommend, please?

    Also, would any tape or liquid flashing do any good (or harm) if applied from the interior of the home - to the exposed window sill lumber?

    Thank you.

  6. GBA Editor
    Brian Pontolilo | | #9

    For a good water-tight but vapor open seal, a lot of builders are using Siga's Fentrim. This is not a flanged window, but it is a face sealed application, so you can see another take on getting the flashing details right: Installing Flangless Windows.

    As far as adding tape or fluid-flashing from the inside, I'm not sure if it would do much...good or harm.

  7. George_7224612 | | #10

    Are you going to pull the windows out yourself or pay someone to do it? It might make sense to pull just one to evaluate the situation, then decide how to proceed.

  8. CMObuilds | | #13

    It probably wont be that bad, removing all the nails takes the longest. Then work the flange with a finish bar, then you can graduate to a flat bar as it starts to come out.

    A squished bead of silicone isn't usually a strong joint, although depends on the quality, especially that fresh. Ive had problems with a polyurethane like old Quad decide to keep the flange for itself.

    I sure wouldn't want to pull a whole house. Unless there is an obvious defect near the sheathing plane do you plan on continually spraying the window area with a high pressure hose? If not you are probably ok.

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