RHAM schools dealing with failed windows

By Melanie Savage - Staff Writer
Hebron - posted Tue., Mar. 4, 2014
A significant number of windows in the RHAM building have failed or are beginning to fail. Photos by Melanie Savage.
A significant number of windows in the RHAM building have failed or are beginning to fail. Photos by Melanie Savage.

The RHAM Board of Education, Superintendent Robert Siminski and Director of Maintenance Michael Ceresa are currently figuring out how to deal with the widespread failure of seals in double-glazed, insulated windows at the school. Siminski informed the board in 2013 of a pattern of over 160 window failures, according to a BOE press release. “Many of the failed windows are stained and discolored due to long-term residual condensation,” reads the release. The windows were approaching the end of a 10-year warranty when the failures were discovered. The administration reported replacing approximately 50 failed windows since the original construction nearly 11 years ago, but is unable to verify if those windows are included in the ones currently failing.

In light of the more widespread failure, Siminski filed a warranty claim with the window manufacturer, a company called EFCO out of Missouri. “With the warranty running out, we wanted to be sure that any windows that failed were replaced, because, quite frankly, anything else will be our responsibility,” said Siminski. The provisions of the warranty are that product replacement is covered, but installation is not. The Facilities, Transportation and Safety Committee of the board questioned whether installing the same product was a good decision, in light of the high incidence of window failure. After a conference call with the manufacturer, the board agreed to accept a different, more reliable product to replace the defective windows, according to the release.

“At the end of the day, the district still faces an unanticipated financial obligation to install the replacement windows,” said board chair Danny Holtsclaw, citing the efforts of Ceresa and board members Rich Jacobson and Joe O’Connor for potentially lessening the impact of that expense. The preliminary estimated cost to the district for shipping, storing and installing the replacement windows is $125,000, according to the press release. The board anticipates coming up with a more accurate figure after a walk-through inspection is completed, and after EFCO more thoroughly explains their position with regard to shipping, storing and installing the windows.

This is not the first large-scale failure encountered since the construction of the RHAM building. A problem with the flooring approximately five years ago lead to a million-dollar settlement with the flooring company, according to Siminski. The failure necessitated the removal of linoleum and the retiling of much of the first floor of the building, according to the superintendent.

Moving forward, the district should expect maintenance costs associated with the building to increase, according to the superintendent. “The first 10 years are the honeymoon, if you will,” said Siminski. With the building nearing 11 years since construction, most systems are out of warranty and some items are beginning to wear out and/or require maintenance. Siminski cited a hot water heater that is beginning to fail, and an athletic track that needs to be resealed. “Capital needs are going to be coming to the forefront,” he said.

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