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A Day in the Life of a Double Glazing Repairman

replacement window repairsWho Repairs double-glazing when it goes wrong?

In an ideal situation and provided the product is still under guarantee – it’s the responsibility of the service department of the company who supplied you to undertake repairs.

However it’s often the case that the original supplier is no longer around or the faulty windows are out of guarantee. In these situations consumers will often find themselves dealing with a rather “special” repairperson – often referred to as the Double Glazing Doctor or Window Doctor or more often the Double Glazing Service Engineer.

These individuals have to be familiar with a wide range of double glazed windows and composite door products. Arguably, they are the true “Double Glazing Experts”.

This short article explains a typical day in the life of a Double Glazing Repairman. It’s an excellent insight to the double-glazing industry and frankly it’s of equal value to both people seeking repairs and anyone starting out on the road to buying new double glazing.

7.31 am – First Call of the Day
I’m not usually up and working this early but this customer insisted in seeing me before going to work. Problem: existing windows are around 12 years old and have “cockspur” handles that have become rather loose over time. This is because many of the little plastic catches that the handles located on when sealing had dropped of / been lost over time. This meant the windows felt loose / wobbled when supposedly locked. Fortunately I carry a good quantity of these catches me with me and they are an exact fit. Takes about 20 mins to fit 7 catches. I also lubricate and generally clean the handles. Cost to customer £60.00 They seem happy – but wanted to pay me by credit card – even though on phone I explained I do not take credit cards.

8.29 am – Breakfast at Jane’s Café
My next appointment is not until 9.45 am – so it’s time for breakfast at my favourite café. Jane reminds me that I have still to give her a price for a new upvc back door and window. I don’t really do replacement work but for Jane I will make an exception. Measure up window and door and promise to telephone tonight with a firm price.

9.45 am – call No 2 – replacement of “failed” double glazed sealed units
Replacing broken down or failed sealed units is perhaps the No1 thing that I do. The units are considered failures whenever condensation appears between the two panes of glass. Many people think we have some magic tool that will dry the unit out – but frankly there is no realistic alternative but to replace the failed sealed units. There are 7 sealed units to replace here (a big job – usually its just one or two units at a time) Three of the units are toughened glass – so it’s a little more expensive because of this. The job takes an hour. Total cost to customer £390.00. Customer is happy – they did have much larger quotes. My min charge to replace a single sealed unit is £70.00

(Webmasters note: If you suffer from condensation on your windows – and its not within the sealed units – you may find the following article of interest: http://www.windowstoday.co.uk/condensation.htm)

11.45 am – Call No 3 – Customer having trouble locking back door
After replacing failed sealed units this is perhaps the next most common repair. Basically the back door (uPVC) has dropped meaning that the bottom of the door catches ever time someone closes the door. There’s also a bit of a gap at the top and a draft! The reason the door has “dropped” is most likely because the door was never “toed and heeled” correctly when installed. Customer explains that the door never really worked properly since it was installed 18 months ago. Unfortunately the “man and van” operation that installed it seems reluctant to come and repair their faulty workmanship – despite their so-called 10-year guarantee! Anyway, I remove both sealed units and “toe and heel” the door properly. This does the trick and the door now works fine. A couple of catches in the locking mechanism have also been broken (no doubt due to door not closing properly) and I replace them at same time. Cost to customer £60.00. Unfortunately I must point out to customer that I cannot offer any warranty on this type of work – in my experience because the door was not installed correctly to start with, it’s likely that future problems may occur. Took an hour to do this – which is about as twice as long as I would have hoped. Still, the customer did make a rather nice cup of tea and a sandwich!

(Webmasters note: for a detailed explanation of “toeing and heeling” visit: http://www.doubleglazing.com/diy_toeing_heeling.htm)

1.30 pm – call to give estimate on replacing faulty sealed units
Most times I give a fairly accurate estimate on telephone and then just visit customers to do an accurate measure. This customer however wanted me to call in person and quote. It appears the original suppliers of the double-glazing are no longer in business. They had bought from a company who in my opinion was notorious for a “cheap product and cheap prices”. Of course that particular company is no longer around and that’s why I’m being called in. As soon as I arrive the potential customer is on the offensive – moaning and generally running down the whole double glazing industry. It would appear she thinks we are all con men! Of course this is not true but it’s not an uncommon reaction from people in this situation. In particular she wants to know how she can claim on her 10-year guarantee. I explain that the guarantee (which was not insurance backed) died when the company went out of business. She does not like that! She goes on a bit to say the least! Anyway I give my firm quote - £210 to replace a total of 5 sealed units. She says she will let me know! I am of course sympathetic to the her plight but I do think its rather unfair to take it out on me. I’m not sure she has yet really accepted in her mind that she will only get this work done if she pays for it! Sometimes I feel like a Double Glazing Agony Uncle. It appears the visit has been a WOT (waste of time). I wish her well.

2.30 pm – Fit replacement hinges on upvc window
This customer had trouble getting her upvc window to seal / be draft proof whenever she closed it. Basically the top friction hinge had twisted and now ever time she closed the window there was a gap of bout 10 mm. A fairly simple job to fix – I removed the hinge and replaced with new one. I also replaced the bottom hinge (that was not broken) as I always find its best to replace both hinges at the same time. This is an easy job on upvc windows, which are fixed to the frame using screws. If the window had been aluminium it can be sometimes more difficult as the hinges are sometimes “riveted” in place. Cost to customer £45.00 inc two new hinges. Time taken – 40 minutes.

3.45 pm – Repair to back door
This call was supposed to have been for the repair of a recently fitted back door. However when I get there I discover the door is not yet fitted and what the customer really wants is someone to fit a upvc double glazed door that they bought from a DIY store. Apparently they had intended to fit themselves but never got around to it? This is not really the kind of work I’m looking for and frankly I’m rather annoyed they got me out on false pretences. Sometimes I think I should have a min., call out fee but I don’t charge one – which is I guess why things like this sometimes happen to me. I give a quote, - £160.00 –, which I think, surprises them. They will let me know!

4.45 – Final Call of the Day – Estimate for Conservatory roof repair
Very nice couple – and a very nice cup of tea! Their existing glass roof has a failed sealed unit within it, meaning that when they look up there is condensation visible. I only do work like this when I have a second pair of hands available and for this type of work I team you with Kevin – an old work colleague of mine who is now also a double glazing service engineer. Replacing a sealed unit in a conservatory roof is not an easy job and its reflected in my price - £560.00. The job will include replacing the rafter capping and gasket, which will also most certainly get damaged when replacing. The customer accepts my quote and I book the work in for 3 weeks time – subject to confirming with Kevin.

And that’s it – just another typical day in the life of a Double Glazing Repairman.

The above article is intended as a “comment” on a service engineer’s typical day. It is based on the experiences of a number of service engineers.

Attention – Double Glazing Service Engineers. We are always looking for feedback and experiences to review / include in this section as we expand it. If you have something interesting to add please email it to adayinthelife@doubleglazingrepairs.com

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