Online since October, 2008

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Pella's Response

1993: We purchased brand new Pella windows and doors for our family room addition.

Some time between 1993 and 2003?: Leak must have started, unbeknownst to us.

March, 2001: We were so pleased with the product, we started replacing all of the windows and doors in our house with Pella.  We replaced a doorwall on the back of the house and two windows on the front of the house.

November, 2007: First contact with Pella salesperson, Ellen P.  I showed Ellen the problem with the window.  She said she did not know what was happening, and would call service for us to have it checked out.  Pella service never called.

May, 2008: The wood rot is looking worse.  We place a big order with Pella for a new doorwall and 9 replacement windows.

May or June, 2008: Pella comes out to measure for the new windows.  I show Lawrence M. the problem with our 1993 Pella window.  He says there is definitely a leak, but it's not the window.  He could not figure out where the leak was coming from.
July 7th and 8th, 2008: The new windows are installed with a couple minor issues.  I show the installer the problem with our 1993 Pella window.  He was not able to provide any assistance.
July, 2008: We get a price on siding.  I ask the siding guy if he has any clue as to where the water is coming in.  He looks at the seal between the window and aluminum clad and says, "I think it's coming in here.  You should get Pella back out here and do a water test."  I place a service call to replace one of the new sashes, and ask them for service on the 1993 window.  The service department notes both items and schedules a date to come out.
August, 2008: Lawrence M. shows up to replace one of the new window sashes.  I ask him to inspect my old window.  His response is very adamant and convincing, "The leak is definitely NOT from the Pella window."  Here's an excerpt from the email I sent to Nick - the carpenter I hired to help: "Pella assures me that the window cannot possibly be leaking.  He said that even if it were coming in the small cracks in the aluminum frame, the water would not be able to get behind and under the window.  He believes it to be a problem elsewhere.  It hasn't rained, and I've noticed that the spot is spreading.  My fear is that there is a carpenter ant colony under there.  I'd like you to open it up, and we'll have some insecticide ready in case my suspicions are correct."
September 15, 2008: Carpenter Nick takes apart the window.  No carpenter ants, thank goodness, but we uncover some moldy, rotted, wet wood.  We expose the aluminum clad frame.  I ask him to watch while I squirt some water on it from the outside.  As soon as I turn on the water, he yells, "TURN IT OFF!  IT'S LEAKING LIKE A SIEVE!"

September 15, 2008: It's obvious the window rotted from the aluminum clad frame first and worked it way inside.

September 15, 2008: I call Pella service.  I tell them I've been waiting for nearly a year for someone to properly inspect my leaking window.  The service department tells me that my window had a 1 year warranty, and I could either request a leak test from a third party independent source (at my expense), or pay $85 for a service call and one of their technicians would come out.  I ask to speak with a supervisor and leave a message on her voice mail.  That same day, Pella calls to tell me that a service man will come out at no charge.
September 16, 2008: I purchase Solar Seal caulk in clear in preparation to seal the huge leak in the one window and what I believe are hidden leaks in the others.
September 17, 2008: Pella serviceman, Mike S. arrives promptly.  He is knowledgeable and very pleasant.  He has worked for the company for 25+ years.  Mike inspects the rotted window.  I run water on the outside to show him the leak.  He says, "IT'S LEAKING LIKE A SIEVE!"  Mike tells me that the seal has failed; that this issue is not an installation problem and that he's seen it happen, especially with a southern exposure.  He offers to seal the one window with silicone because it is leaking so badly.  I tell him that I believe all of our 1993 windows have this problem, so I will do it myself.  He takes pictures and I provide him with pictures of my own.  He said he would pass on the information to the service manager, Vicki H. and that Pella would be in touch with us.
September 17, 2008: I caulk between the glass and the aluminum clad.  The caulk is not the best looking thing, but I feel 100% better having windows that are sealed.

As a precaution, I went ahead and caulked the 2001 door and many of the 2008 doors and windows.

September 19, 2008: I wondered if others had experienced the same problem I had.  I did a Google search and found out that many had.  I sent the following note the carpenter:

Hey Nick,

Take a look at this:
"It turns out that all of our windows and doors are rotten from water running down the outside of the window between the glass and the aluminum clad because they did not put a good seal on their windows. Two of the Pella salesmen admitted to us that Pella has had problems with this particular window built from 1993-1995. Of course the windows they sell now have an additional glazing seal at the very edge of the glass and the clad. When I asked what they are doing about the other thousands of customers that also bought these windows that are now rotting, but are not fortunate enough to know that they are; they beat around the bush and tried to make it sound like it wasn't a problem."
I found that here:
and there are more complaints here:
And it looks like some attorney's have started a class-action lawsuit:

Thanks again for helping me out.  I'll keep you posted as
to what Pella is (or is not) going to do.

Note from November 13, 2008: Since my website has been active, many homeowners have contacted me to tell me about their similar Pella window leaking issues and problems.  I cannot say for sure that the defective Pella windows are only from 1993-1995 (as mentioned above) because others had damage due to the faulty window seals that Pella had built and sold in other years.  When I spoke with one of the homeowners, they told me that the wood sills on the fixed windows appeared to rot out before any casement windows.  Their first windows to rot out were facing west.  Mine were facing south.

September 26, 2008: Salesperson Rita B., who actually sold us windows in both 1993 and 2001, came out to give us a price on replacing the three window unit.  She had no prior knowledge about the service issue, so I gave her the same pictures I gave Mike the serviceman.  Rita was quite pleasant.  She too, believed that the window seal failed.  I mentioned that many others have had this problem.  I also said I was very disappointed in Pella because they knew about this problem but did not notify customers like me to tell us that the seal on windows we bought is likely to fail.
September 30, 2008: I return a call from Kevin D. who is with an installation company that is certified to install Pella products.  This is the company Pella hired to install our 2008 windows.  Kevin gives me pricing on a replacement window, but has no knowledge of the service issue we were experiencing.  The price of the replacement window, installed, is approximately $2,400.  I told Kevin that I believe Pella should be responsible to replace the window and any other defective windows or doors that had a faulty seal which caused leaks and wood rot.  He said he is quite familiar with the problem we are seeing and understands why we are not able to commit to purchasing the replacement window at this point.
October 15, 2008: Here's a picture after chipping out and removing rotted wood, applying Minwax wood hardener, and then using Great Stuff Window & Door foam insulation:

November 10, 2008: Here's a picture of the Pella Window after the leak has been repaired, rotted wood removed, new wood replaced, stained to a close match, and polyurethane finish applied:

Pella's Response