Why do PVCu or Aluminium windows and doors fail in social housing?

This is the sort of question I love. It gets to the heart of the issue of how we should go about managing the repairs to the millions of windows and doors that keep residents safe and comfortable.

To answer this question we need to back-track to a time of predominantly timber or Crittal windows (steel often with timber sub-frame) within our social housing stocks. We’ll use 1985 as a marker but this differs wildly between stocks.

Timber windows prior to this time were simple. A couple of butt hinges and a peg stay in most cases. Single glazed in nearly all instances.  Local contractors were employed to cycle through these properties every 5 years or so and provide a new coat of paint. Crittal windows were treated in pretty much the same way.

Then came the revelation of uPVC framing (or PVCu which is actually the same thing. And in some early instances PVC). The wonder material that required no maintenance. Property owners tripped over themselves to replace their windows and doors. And aside from the odd ‘yellowing’ experience all was good. No more cyclical maintenance. Now what to do with that surplus budget? After all maintenance free means no maintenance budget.

But, as always, there was a catch.    Continue reading