Before you point fingers at your builder, contractor, or window company, did you ever consider the EPA? You’re thinking what does the EPA have to do with my rotted windows? Quite a bit actually. It was the EPA that changed the window industry dramatically in 1985 by banning the use of Penta, or Pentachlorophenol as a wood preservative in residential windows.
Since the 1930’s, nearly every major window manufacturer used Penta as a wood treatment to prolong the life of its wood windows, and with great success. I’ve heard customers countless times over my career talk about the windows in their “old” house never going bad. Well, a lot of factors played into why those windows lasted so long, but I’ll save that laundry list for another post. The use of Penta through the mid ’80s certainly contributed to that customer satisfaction.
Pentachlorophenol was basically poison to insects and rot fungus while acting as a moisture blocker, but it also contained chlorophenate compounds, chlorine, and mercury similar to agent orange….yes, that agent orange. Testing found that millworkers exposed to Penta developed a variety of cancers, liver, kidney, and digestive diseases causing the EPA to ban it for residential wood windows much like the ban on lead paint. Penta is still used on telephone poles and rail road ties under extreme guidelines……but little baby Johnny doesn’t chew on telephone poles.
Soon after the ban came down, wood window manufacturers scrambled to find an alternative preservative to prevent rotted windows. Chemical companies hastily cooked up water based versions that were environmentally safer, but failed at an alarming rate. PILT was widely used by some of the largest manufacturers that saw a huge increase in failure of their products in a short time frame resulting in countless lawsuits. Poor consumer ratings, product failure, and the housing crash contributed to many once thriving wood window companies to go under in the late 2000’s.
Recently, the chemical technology has improved, but will never match the performance of the infamous Penta. Woodlife 111 is probably the most widely used today. Fenster Components uses it on our nearly 20 brands of replicated window sash frames. Although it is not a long term preventer of wood rot, it is a positive enhancement over untreated, painted wood.
If you have rotting wood windows produced since 1978 such as Barber & Ross, Caradco, Craftline, Norco, Pozzi, Rockwell, Sealrite, Vetter, or many others, visit our website www.fensterusa.com to find window replacement parts for your windows.