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Window Replacement in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Ready to get a new window installed in your home, Pittsburghers? If so, you’re probably wondering the best place to start to make sure your upgrade is safe, legal–and energy-efficient. That last part is important–Pittsburgh’s cold winters require windows that can stand up to the cold, without losing heat and increasing your bills in between.
This guide will walk you through the basics–from selecting a contractor to insulating your windows–and includes details on energy-efficiency programs you may be eligible for when you purchase certain products for your home. Read on to get started with your replacement today.
Window Contractor Requirements in Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh does not require you to perform all home renovations through a licensed contractor, so if you want to make the replacement on your own, you have the option to do so. However, if you’re new to window replacement, you may want to opt to hire a professional who can help you ensure that the work is safe and up-to-code.
While finding a contractor that fits the bill can be daunting, it’s the best way to make sure you won’t get slapped with a fine (or even held liable for any damages). To help you make your selection, you can perform a few cursory checks on potential candidates to narrow down your options. First, all contractors working in Pittsburgh need to be licensed with the state. You can use the Pennsylvania License Verification tool to check your contractor for a license. Next, ask the permitting office whether or not the contractor you have in mind has any unpaid fees in their name. And lastly, ask the contractor directly for references that can attest to the quality and professionalism of their work. A good workman will be able to easily provide them.
Applying for Window Permits in Pittsburgh
Window replacements performed within the city limits require permit approval before the job can begin. You can apply for a permit at the city’s Department of Permits, Licenses, and Inspections, which is located at 200 Ross Street, 3rd Floor, Pittsburgh, PA 15219.
A copy of the residential building application is available here. Keep in mind, however, that you’ll also need zoning approval from the city’s Zoning Department to ensure that your work will abide by applicable zoning regulations. That department’s office is at the 200 Ross Street address, as well.
The permitting office may also require you to submit additional plans, drawings, and other project details when you apply for your permit, especially if you’ll be making alterations to the wall surrounding the window. An official at the office should be able to tell you if any other documentation is necessary to complete your application.
Window Requirements in Pittsburgh
The International Energy Conservation Code, which sets forth provisions for energy efficient building in different regions, indicates that windows installed in Allegheny County should have a U-factor no greater than 0.35. That’s the industry measurement that shows how well your window brand insulates the interior of a home–in other words, how much heat loss it allows to slip through the glass.
The lower the U-factor rating, the better the window will insulate your area. In fact, you may want to look exclusively for products that have been labeled with the ENERGY STAR logo–that means that the EPA has reviewed them and found that they are energy efficient for your area’s climate. Generally, these products have lower U-factor ratings than the IECC’s minimum requirement.
Window Inspections in Pittsburgh
Each permit issued in Pittsburgh requires two sets of inspections–an initial framing inspection, which you’ll schedule before the project can commence, and a final inspection to review the completed work. Contact the Department of Permits, Licenses, and Inspections to proceed, and make sure to have the permit and all accompanying documentation available when the inspector visits.
Window Insulation in Pittsburgh
Heat doesn’t just escape through the window’s glass, however. You’ll also want to make sure that all joints are sealed to prevent it from leaking through gaps in the caulking, as well. It’s best to perform a visual inspection on all seals. They should be neat with a clean, smooth bead. Additionally, weatherstripping added to the moving parts of the window can form a protective seal in those areas, too.
Window Rebates and Incentives in Pittsburgh
The Pennsylvania State Treasury offers a low-interest financing option for homeowners choosing to upgrade to high efficiency windows. That program is called KeystoneHELP, and offers residents fixed rate loans anywhere from $2,500 to $20,000. To qualify, you’ll need to use one of the state’s certified contractors and choose products from an eligible product list. More information about that program can be found here.
The federal government offers a rebate for ENERGY STAR windows as well. If you qualify, they’ll return you up to 10% of the product’s costs, up to $200. Complete form 5965 with you taxes to see if you’re eligible.