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braintreemass

Major Disappointment With Pella Windows and Doors - Caveat Emptor

braintreemass
March 2, 2007

We were rebuilding and adding to our home located in a suburb south of Boston beginning in May of 2005. In the process, we chose the Pella Designer series windows, in part because we were told the sashes were an all wood interior, with triple-pane highly efficient glass. We have pets and so one of the features that especially appealed to us was the ability to purchase blinds that are placed between the panes of glass. Our home is of considerable size and contains much glass coverage. We ordered from Pella 78 windows, some as large as seven feet tall by several feet wide, as well as 6 exterior French (glass) doors.

To say the experience has been disappointing would be an understatement. Pella has been to our home for service over 25 times! I have considerable knowledge regarding construction from various work, education and a two year apprenticeship as an Architect that I worked many years ago. I am cognizant as to what are acceptable standards and normal installations for doors and windows. It was my experience that the Pella Designer series requires substantial installation preparation far exceeding that of a comparable Anderson or Marvin or Harvey product where the Pella windows will not function properly without extraordinary precise shimming the windows.

The problem lies in what appears to be an inherent design flaw where if the windows are not shimmed tight on the verticals jambs adjacent to the plane where the windows lock, the windows will "pop" out and not lock. This in part appears to be caused by the actual locking mechanism that employs a straight slot type of engagement rather than a gradual sloping type of lock that could first grab the sash and then close it tight. Another contributor to this problem seems to be the weathers stripping utilized in the manufacturer of the product. The weather stripping is so stiff, it make closing the properly installed windows many times very difficult and sometimes impossible.

In the North East where the weather and relative humidity changes significantly over the course of the year, the shim requirements to make these windows properly operational swell and cause operational difficulties. Additionally, when attempting to tilt-in a pane for cleaning, because of the tightness required to make these windows lock, the wood rails on the sides of the sashes become torn and damaged.

As far as the product being an all-wood interior, that was another illusion. The hinged panel that facilitated the ability to place the blinds and grids between the glass is actually a formed metal component that contains a very thin, "paper thin" layer of wood over the metal. This is problematic because the lock mechanism if not fully disengaged can catch this thin wood and easily tear it off. Given the price point of these windows, I submit there are better alternatives especially given that when we experienced problems, these were considerably exacerbated when Pella Boston, the "dealer" we purchased the windows through, were unresponsive, and acted in our opinion in a less than honorable way in dealing with an enormity of problems with their products at our home. We have been attempting to rectify non-conforming products delivered in May-June of 2005 still to this date! I will say on a positive note that if it were not for the earnest efforts for a Pella technician named Eric who has been to our home for over 20 times, I would have torn out the windows and commenced litigation.

On a final note, Pellas position appears to be one to blame the installation. Last month, Pella sent out an engineer from the headquarters in Pella Iowa to our home to investigate our problems. We already had several structural engineers review these problems with out home and Pella was made aware of this. Pella stated that a pair of French glass doors were improperly installed where they were not plumb, level or square and that this was the cause of the doors not working. To demonstrate this was untrue, Pella was sent digital photographs depicting a digital level on each plane showing the plumb, and level and photos of a tape measure demonstrating the door was installed square. In an attempt to remove itself from the liability of correcting the nonconforming doors, Pella said the photos could have been deceptive and not true and sent the engineer to confirm what was already stated. It was learned this person testifies for Pella in court and so he was on a fact-finding mission. Unfortunately for him, everything was as we stated and he just wasted more of our time. Pella is planning on finally replacing these doors to correct the problems.

Our experience with Pella Windows has not been a positive one and I would never recommend the purchase of their product after our dealings with them. We have had problems with every aspect of dealing with Pella and to date have several issues unresolved.

Caveat emptorÂlet the buyer beware.

Comments (201)

  • PRO
    HomeSealed Exteriors, LLC

    Pricing is going to be very dependant upon the dealer quoting you. For instance, I pay less for a Marvin Ultimate than a Pella Designer... I'd concur with MWM's recommendations. Those are the cream of the crop in wood windows.

  • Preston Witt

    That's awesome! I will have the builder get with the local marvin rep and get us some more options...so the dealer can control prices a lot huh?

    I would absolutely love to have wood windows all around!

  • PRO
    HomeSealed Exteriors, LLC

    Size, overhead, and business model are driving factors in how much a given dealer will charge.

  • prairiemoon2 z6b MA

    What if you don't want a cream of the crop, but you want an affordable, quality window? Any ideas?

  • millworkman

    Andersen 400 series would be as far down the chain as I would go.

  • Preston Witt

    Millworkman, please elaborate....you mean they are the worst windows ever or do you mean they would still be acceptable but last choice?


  • millworkman

    Decent window as low as I would go staying with a wood or wood/clad window.

  • prairiemoon2 z6b MA

    Thank you for that information. I'll check them out.

  • Preston Witt

    Millworkman, If my quote is the apx same for wood-ultrex as Anderson....and around $6000-$7000 more to get Marvin Ultimate....what would you do?

  • historwinman

    Preston W I would get a price from Loewen also. They are a one step purchase. In other words from a Loewen dealer directly to your site. Loewen make a beautiful window With Douglas Fir V's pine as a base material. thus rot is less likely.


    In answer to your ? for MWM I would pay for the Marvins unless the budget is dreadfully tight

  • Preston Witt

    I think we are going to mix and match to get the price where we want it based on the design of the rooms in our home. It should work out great!!! We are excited to go with Marvin! A little bit of each line!

  • millworkman

    Not a bad way to go Preston, please keep us in the loop and post pictures!

  • Edmund Sullivan

    It is March 2015. I found this series of complaints tonight as I am presenting my case involving Pella windows and doors & a poor installation experience here in Fairfield County CT. In response to my complaint to the BBB involving a poor installation experience, Pella Corp. responded that it was not Pella Corp., but its independent "installer" against whom I need to complain. The independent installer, DHD Windows and Doors of Monroe CT, just pretended it heard nothing, saw nothing and did nothing. The "dunce response".

    Like the original poster, more than a decade ago, I advise "caveat emptor" [Let buyer beware]. Homeowners need to be informed and if you can afford Pella, find yourself a good contractor, and that contractor may recommend another window manufacturer. From my experiences, I hope so.

    ES


  • prairiemoon2 z6b MA

    I have no experience with Pella, but 15 years ago when we renovated our kitchen we put a large sliding window above our counter and sink that was custom made to my specs from Marvin. Great window. We have enjoyed it.

  • newridges

    Two words from my experience with Pella windows and their dealer service: no go.
    If you want to save yourself a lot of trouble down the roads, just stay away from Pella.
    I started to replace my full house of Pella originally installed in 2000 and I go with Milgard. Marvin is another brand on the shortlist but my Milgard dealer is very enthusiastic. In my neighborhood there are a lot of Pella installed back around 2000 and the homeowners had to replace them due to rotting and leaking.


  • floweraddict

    I had heard that a Pella rep told my installer that they know the windows were not made properly for a two to three year period of time. Since they are such a big company and no one will take them on, they keep getting away with blaming everyone else instead of admitting fault and doing the right thing.

  • Edmund Sullivan

    The big problem with Pella is that it contracts with independent dealers to sell and install its products -- when something goes wrong and the homeowner goes back to Pella to complain, the homeowner gets nowhere - Pella told me my gripe was not with it, but with an independent dealer, in my case DHD Windows and Doors of Monroe, CT. Dealing with DHD Windows and Doors of Monroe, CT is like dealing with a used car dealer and in my opinion is as unsavory as a used car dealer - I was treated very poorly in my last installation of Pella windows and doors, I will never buy another Pella product in my lifetime because of the shiftless, shoddy and disagreeable experience I had with its sales and installation agents, DHD Windows and Doors of Monroe, CT in January 2015. As a former state prosecutor, Assistant Attorney General and consumer lawyer, I felt my experience was right out of hell - a nightmare - the installers DHD Windows and Doors sent to my house were plainly incompetent - belligerently rude & sloppy -- they were foreigners whose English was often not clear and they knew nothing about the scope of work -- I had to make an urgent call to Pella to send out their representatives quickly or I would have to order the hooligans off of my property or call the police,They left part of my house full of construction dust and filled a construction dumpster at my house with all the construction debris that I had paid Pella in my contract with it to remove from my house. When I complained to the local BBB in Connecticut, they told me that DHD Windows and Doors had an "A +" rating - i.e., perfect. No complaints, They dismissed my complaint, saying they would keep it on file for a year "just in case" another complaint should be filed.


    Bottom line-- when buying replacement windows and doors, hire a good contractor and tell him to keep away from Pella products.

  • friedajune

    Eamon03 - Since you were a former state prosecutor, assistant attorney general, and consumer lawyer, I am wondering why you weren't informed enough even to avail yourself of websites like Yelp or Angie's List to find a good window installation company. Or look at this website to read about Pella. Being in your field of business, I would have thought you--of all people--could find a good contractor. I also would have thought you would know how to ask the right questions and spot signs of a good or bad contractor during the bidding process.

  • Edmund Sullivan

    You are right - in hindsight. I am retired now and just didn't think the job required a contractor, that I could act as my own contractor. Wanted to save money.

  • dpkincaid2015

    newridges: your story sounds familiar. We built our house in 2001. Went with the Pella Architect Series and regretted it ever since. This was supposed to be their top of the line window. House has 28 windows and we live in a cold climate so energy efficiency was important. BIG mistake going with Pella. Windows leaked, frosted over etc from day 1. Pella blamed humidity in house, the installer, window treatments - anything to avoid taking any responsibility. For the past 14 years we have had to put 3M plastic over every window from Oct to April to prevent ice build-up. We are putting in new windows and going with Marvin Ultimates. I tell anyone building or remodeling to avoid Pella at all costs.

  • PRO
    Windows on Washington Ltd

    I am not sure it is a fair assessment to say that all of Pella's problems are due to vendors and contractors. If you look at the history of the products, there are several that were produced that were fatally flawed from the outset. The best installation in the world wouldn't have corrected the issue or saved the window. Pella has done a better job of late of standing behind the product, getting on these boards, and honoring their product.


  • PRO
    L Reed Carpenter Jr AIA

    1991 Family Room Addition...Pella Designer Series...casement
    & fixed windows...wood sill and wood sash bottom rail totally rotted
    out...wood components do not appear to have been treated for rot...defective
    design of sash glazing...as an Architect I thought Pella was a superior product
    which should last a life time...I was very wrong...I recently started to repair
    what appeared to be surface rot...what I discovered is an horrendous
    problem...I will be contacting the local Gunton/Pella architectural sales representative
    tomorrow morning...my 1927 home has wood double hung which are in great shape
    and I expect they will last at least another 88 years...

  • floweraddict

    Good luck on getting any satisfaction from the corporate office. They will blame the installer, you and anyone else they can come up with. They take no responsibility for their products. They will tell you it is out of warranty and there is nothing they can do. They DO NOT back up their products. I wish I would have known that before I bought.

  • Edmund Sullivan

    I got "zero" satisfaction -- they pointed me in the direction of their local sales and installation agents, DHD Windows and Doors of Monroe, CT. The importance of consumer comments like these can't be underestimated. Hopefully, social media will play a greater role in the future informing the public about bad consumer experiences with products and services like mine with Pella and its sub-par sloppy installers found in the backwaters of the carpentry world.

  • elltwo

    I usually only go to the electrical forum, but I had a question about a Pella repair so I came here. This was the first thread I came to, but don't think I have to go anywhere else. I had some "new" windows installed in 1981, and when I bought another house in 1997 I had Pella "replacement" windows installed in that house without even thinking about another manufacturer. They were flimsy and the screw for the sash retainer screw for the bottom sash in a double-hung unit tore out pretty quickly. I re-installed it close by, and it works okay, but I treat all of them with kid gloves now because I don't want a reoccurrence of the problem. Now I have some broken sash locks on the 1981 units and they will sell me the locks but say that if a technician has to come and install them it will cost $120. My question is "if I use their parts and screws, is their any need for a specialist in the home of someone who owns a Phillip's head screwdriver?

    I know that nothing lasts forever, but I bought a small kitchen full of Omega cabinets from National Lumber for the 1997 house and the doors had hinges that had a plastic part that failed on several units long after the warranty of merchantability had expired. I went to the store and asked about buying some new ones and they gave me (for free) all the hinges I needed. It was an improved design and all metal and they were easy to install. I live in a pretty safe neighborhood and windows are opened until they need to be closed, and then a few weeks or months later you reverse the process. Some cabinet doors might be opened 5-10 times a day. Thirty years is not really long in the life of a good window and a proprietary lockset should probably come with a lifetime guarantee. This post speaks to the difference in customer treatment between Pella and National Lumber/Omega Cabinetry, but please respond to my question about the degree of difficulty in changing out Pella double hung sash locks. Thanks.

  • newridges
    for those having Designer and Architecturer series windows, you may contact Morgan & Morgan Complex Litigation Group in FL to be included in the class action against Pella. If you need contact, PM me.
  • floweraddict

    I don't have my paperwork any more. Can I tell what series I have by the numbers on the windows?

  • PRO
    HomeSealed Exteriors, LLC

    Just a quick comment on the window lifespan referenced by elltwo: 30 years IS actually quite impressive for a window these days, particularly a wood unit. The fast growth wood used on newer units is a virtual sponge for moisture in comparison to the dense, old-growth wood windows of yesteryear. There will be no 100 year old wood windows from the year 2000 like you may find from 1900. I just won't happen.

    Regarding the search for hardware, if Pella won't sell it to you without installing, try Strybuc or Blaine. They sell virtually every type of hardware.

  • elltwo

    Thanks for the leads, HomeSealed, I'll try them for prices next week.

  • PRO
    L Reed Carpenter Jr AIA

    Dear Home Seal, "30 years IS actually quite impressive"...PLEASE give me a break...assume you must sell some junk windows...as has been pointed out in earlier posts, "clad wood windows" have gone through a 50 year learning curve...Pella has made some significant design flaw corrections over time...unfortunately mine are 25 years old...their local wholesaler Gunton in Cleveland has recently done right by me...4 new windows...it did cost me...I willing paid knowing they knew the issues with a professional installation...being an Architect I thought Pella Corp would do something...guess they are smart enough to know if they did something for one they would get hammered by everyone and be out of business today...no longer does a brand name indicate a level of quality...no matter Pella, Anderson, etc they all offer a WIDE range of products...vinyl, fiberglass, clad wood, builders grades and above...homes are not a through away product...you are making a LONG term investment...BUY THE VERY BEST GRADE WINDOW YOU CAN AFFORD...how many of you reading may buy a car...be it $20K or $60K...and that car at best may last 10 years...please be an informed home owner...

  • PRO
    HomeSealed Exteriors, LLC

    L Reed, it sounds like you have made some pretty interesting assumptions based on my comments above. I agree strongly with your comments about recommending high quality windows. Your statements seem to contradict each other in some areas however. You comment that brand name is no indicator of quality, but then say that pella has corrected their design flaws. Personally, I do not prefer pella, and I believe the fact that they still use roll formed cladding on their sashes is a design flaw that has not been fixed. As someone who is in homes daily, I still see many of these windows and similar windows from other brands that are rotted out in 9-10,12 years. That is just a fact. On the rare occasion where I see something in around 30 years, it is generally a homeowner that has diligently cared for their windows, or had a host of favorable conditions extend its life. If we were to survey the number of Windows produced 30 years ago that are still in good operating condition today, I would be willing to bet that it is far less than half. Should today's Windows last more than 30 years on average? Possibly. Is there data to prove that they will? Please share if you have it. Otherwise we can only use past experience as a measure, and I stand behind my statement above that 30 years for a Pella wood window from 1985 is pretty darn good.

  • PRO
    L Reed Carpenter Jr AIA

    Dear Home Seal...I find all your comments very valid and an indictment of the window manufacturing industry...for us as professionals to tell a client that a window might only last 30 years is pathetic...I too am not a fan of roll form cladding...Pella has gotten better at it...to call todays clad windows 'wood' is a play on what they really are...my 88 year old windows are 'wood'...all sash operate, window storms & screens...care & favorable conditions are a huge factor...cladding can/does hide a deteriorating condition...4 of my 8 1990 Pella window are still serviceable...I have to judge from your recent comments that you are quality and honest professional contractor...and carry & install only quality products (please scratch my junk comment)...my point on brand name quality is that all major manufactures offer a broad range of products...know the quality of the product you are buying, its warrantees and hire an installer such as yourself...do not buy on price alone...Thank you, I have enjoyed your reply to my post...

  • PRO
    HomeSealed Exteriors, LLC

    So to clarify, are you stating that the 30yr mark is a commentary on how "pathetically" inadequate the window industry is in terms of making a quality product, or that the 30 years is a "pathetically" inaccurate reflection of the service life (high aside at that) that one could expect from a wood clad window?

  • PRO
    L Reed Carpenter Jr AIA

    ...for us as professionals to need to tell a client that a window might only last 30 years is a pathetic 'commentary on the window industry is in terms of making a quality product'...perhaps they are only responding to our through away society...sad but true...I shall keep my 88 year old wood double hung windows, wood storms & screens...

  • PRO
    HomeSealed Exteriors, LLC

    I think that you probably answered your own question L reed. Manufacturers have to hit the price points that the market demands, and unfortunately that precludes very high end options for most buyers. I'd also suggest that the advances in technology over a 30 year period along with the desire for a different look or operation make replacement at or before that point an option as well, no different that a kitchen or bath, appliances, an asphalt roof, and the list goes on. This is why even quality windows of inorganic materials such as vinyl and fiberglass still project to approximately 30 years at which point many folks will start considering replacement. I'd add that while I am no advocate for payback schedules when it comes to replacement windows, many have either paid the investment back at that point or come close to it.

    Quite honestly I find some irony in this conversation as it is typically those on the new construction side (builders and perhaps architects?) that are pushing garbage windows to keep costs down, which really begets the need for window replacement companies to exist. Ten year windows, wood or vinyl, are what I see in the majority of new construction.

  • krenster

    Add us to the list of displeased Pella customers. We built our home in 1999 and within a few years, ALL of our casement windows would no longer close fully. The wooden sills are rotting around the lock areas. We had no idea this was widespread, but there must've been a class-action at some point, because out of the blue after about five years we got a letter from Pella with a 30 percent off coupon inside for when we wanted to replace windows. Since these supposedly have a lifetime warranty, it's obvious Pella was forced to do this.

    That said, we had no better luck with Andersen. We have two interior wood/exterior vinyl-clad sliding doors to our decks, and both have the same problem: The exterior cladding has peeled away from the bottom, making it impossible to open the screen. My husband has repeatedly tried to glue the pieces, but we've yet to find anything that works for more than a few months.

    I don't know what to do anymore. Just limp along, I guess. I'll never buy from either company again.


  • millworkman

    Have you contacted Andersen, that sounds like a defect and they may cover new panels? As for Pella, I am certain you are s.o.l. from them.

  • anakemp

    We installed Pella Architect series windows throughout a new build house in 2013. We are thrilled with the windows in every respect except, the french doors. After 2 1/2 years, the passive door trim slipped on 3 of the 4 doors and needs to be replaced. Of course the warranty for repairs ends after 2 years. Quite disappointing. Here are the windows in our family room:

  • PRO
    Windows on Washington Ltd

    Looks like a lovely home and great view.

  • Ron Mexico

    Beautiful home anakemp. Glad to hear that you are happy so far. Please post update in another 7 years as that is about the life expectancy of that window

  • Pyewacket

    West Coast Vinyl, mentioned back in 2007 - I just went and checked Yelp reviews. They had a dozen one star reviews (9 in the "not approved" section) and one 2 star review. Maybe things have changed in the last 9 years - at any rate it sounds like yet another window to avoid.

  • roadking14

    i remodeled an entire house purchasing Architect series windows and doors. What a poor choice. The double French door does not close properly and cannot be secured. The picture window has a faulty seal that causes a film of moisture to accumulate between the panes. Choosing Pella was the worst decision I could have made.,I am trying to contact their service and repair people to tell them of my latest concern and they don't even return the call. They are a manufacturer to be avoided.

  • orbit5

    18 years ago we installed Pella Windows because we thought they were the best manufactured windows. One of the large fixed panes clouded over several years back so this year I thought I would get it resolved. They sent out a technician which concluded that it wasn't their window and unless I submitted paperwork to prove it then they wouldn't honor the 20 year guarantee. I found the delivery sheet and emailed it to them. After not hearing from them for over 3 weeks I called and they said it wasn't their window so they not only would not honor the warranty they wouldn't even work on the window if I paid them. They referred me to a local Los Angeles window repair shop and we are in San Diego. NO HELP. If you do call their service department expect a 15 to 25 minute wait time before they answer and all the time they tell you sorry for the wait time. They can't be that sorry! While the Service Tech was personal and nice let the buyer beware of an OK product and extremely poor customer service and warranty. Let me state that the windows are definitely Pella. Our location is San Diego. Best of Luck to you.

  • geoffrey_b

    Somewhere on the window ( edge / top / bottom) there should be a sticker or something embossed. Or maybe inside the the double pane.


    Pella Window ID

  • laurieminardi

    We have an all brick exterior home and the Anderson window dealer said there is no way to replace and install windows in a home with a brick exterior and guarantee that they will not leak. I don't know how to proceed.

  • millworkman

    Find another installer. Are you married to Renewal by Andersen? What area of the country as replacment window quality brands can vary by location?

  • PRO
    Windows on Washington Ltd

    +1

    I am not a fan of full tear outs in a brick veneer because of the lack of a nailing flange and moisture management, but they are done all over the country without leaking.

  • beachnj2010

    Homeowner here, I bought a 7'x7' fixed picture 3 pane window from Pella, 3 years ago


    . I opened a service ticket with them about the window being cold and sent them these 2 pictures. They said they want $120 to have a tech look at it. I'm thinking they wont cover it under warranty and tell us some political reason. It seems the cold is inside the 2 panes. (btw my finger is touching the window from the inside) Can I have your opinion on these pictures? Thanks

  • millworkman

    Why are you thinking the glass would not be cold?

  • PRO
    Windows on Washington Ltd

    Opinion on the pictures is as follows: that is normal.


    The window will always be slightly thermally bridged on the perimeter where the frame and spacer is continuous to the exterior. That is the same reason that in your wall assembly, the stud will be the weak point in the wall. A picture from further back, without the contrast of your hand, will be more accurate.

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