When it comes to how long double glazed sealed units (the glass inside the window) last, a lot of it is down to the quality of the glass and the environment that your windows sit in. It’s not uncommon for your window frames themselves (especially if they are uPVC) to last longer than your sealed units.
Sealed units are called that because they’re two panes of glass sealed together with an air gap in between. They use what’s called a ‘perimeter seal’ to protect the air gap between the panes, and is usually made of butyl mastic which retains a desiccant within a perforated metallic spacer bar. The desiccant’s job is to absorb any moisture which finds its way into the air gap to stop your window from misting up on the inside. When a sealed unit fails, or is ‘blown’, it’s usually because moisture builds up around the seal and causes it to fail.
Sealed units won’t last forever, so you will eventually end up with condensation inside the panes of your double glazing, but in an ideal environment your double glazed sealed units could last up to 30 years, with some manufacturers claiming as long as 40 years. But they do require a bit of maintenance and the position of your windows will also make a difference as to how long they last.
There are a few things that determine how long a sealed unit will last:
- Climate - If your window faces south, it will be subject to direct sunlight for a lot of the day. This tends to cause the sealed unit to fail more quickly – a south-facing window may last between 10-25 years. This is because the spacer bars will twist as the temperature rises and causes the adhesive holding them together to eventually fail.
- Moisture - Windows in kitchens and bathrooms tend to fail more quickly because they come into contact with moisture more often. For example, if water gets on your windowsill when you shower, the seal around the glass will come loose more quickly if it’s constantly wet.
When you replace the sealed units in your windows or get completely new double glazing, make sure you choose an installer that uses quality products and will take all the steps to ensure that your sealed units are kept away from moisture as much as possible.