Window Seal Blown by WFP?


Thanks for looking at this, especially seasoned wfp users who do a lot of residential.

I was showing my new employee, actually his first day working for me, how to clean with a water fed pole.

I was emphasizing how important it is to scrub the bottom of the window because this is where it’s the dirtiest—also, because I’m still using a hybrid brush with nylon bristles at the edges, the the bottom edge/corners can be challenging.

As I somewhat forcefully was moving the brush up and down, against the bottom edge of the vinyl window, we noticed some black specks sort of flew up, some an inch or three from the bottom of the glass. Very soon after I realized that this dirt was not rinsing off and then noticed that this area (the size of a hand) showed condensation.

Once I stop blabbing, within a minute, I pointed this out and we looked at it closely—sure enough a half dozen specks of black dirt had apparently shot up in between the glass panes. Plenty of this type of dirt was coming out of the bottom of the window, trapped in between the flap and the glass, I trust you know what I mean.

Without a doubt the window seal looked blown. Within a few hours the whole window pane, about 3 x 5 foot, was totally blown.

Both him and I agreed that we saw the specks fly up just when my brush had come down with a bit more force than I normally use.

We noticed, where I had scrubbed downwards and where the condensation started, that the vinyl lip was seemingly a tad looser. These are the types of vinyl windows that have those flaps against the glass. So, evidently, the nylon bristles got in between the glass and the vinyl flap.

Did I cause the window seal to be blown?

Of course, this is never happened to me before, and I was feeling very foolish.

Has anyone seen this happen before?
…a water fed pole brush causing the window’s seal to break because the bristles get in between the vinyl flap in the glass?

The customer seemed to think it wasn’t my fault, which I thought was strange because I wasn’t even really defending myself, although I did somewhat by pointing out that the flap was loose at that part (not sure though what had even happened). Days later I am still left wondering: should I be paying for this?

The customer has had four of his windows (20 years old) replaced because of the seals breaking. So was this particular picture window at the edge of blowing and I was simply the person who ‘added the straw that broke the camel’s back’?

I’m inclined to think that the camel (window) did have a heavy load (receives a lot of sun, for 20 years) but I feel like I just threw a 100 lb sack of feed on him, or more, with this whole aggressive downward motion of the brush.

Is it my fault the the vinyl flap had separated more than usual, allowing the nylon bristles to enter? No. But is this even a good excuse?

Really nice customers, I’m going back to finish the pressure washing Tuesday, and I just want to do the right thing.

Thanks for any help or advice!


I wouldn’t say it’s your fault per se, you were just putting pressure on them when they were at the end of their lifecycle. Like being the guy that sits and breaks an old chair that has been slowly decaying. Just a matter of timing.

If the customer has replaced other windows, then this isn’t surprising to them either. Good teaching point tho - be aware of older windows and the possibility that they can’t take as much pressure as newer ones.


Any number of things can cause the seal to fail, changes in temperature, pressure (from delivery), faulty install even?

That window should’ve been able to take the pressure of being cleaned. No you shouldn’t have to pay for it, I bet if your adjuster came out he’d fight it for you. Thats a slam dunk right there, but good looking out for your client tho, you’re a stand up guy.


Thanks for sharing this, very interesting to hear feedback.

Thanks for taking the time to read and respond!

What do you mean by ‘pressure from delivery’?

Do you mean applying pressure from a brush?

Also, as you can see on the photo the vinyl ‘flaps’ at the edge, have you ever heard of brush bristles getting underneath it and causing the seal to break?

Maybe I should try to find a video on window seals. I guess it is often nitrogen that fills the void, I heard.

Sorry about that, I meant the pressure from climate changes when lets say the windows are being delivered from back east and its in a truck coming over the rockies and that sort of thing.

Its going to make the gas expand and contract rapidly, well, more than it was designed and tested for. All of that will weaken the seal if not outright break it before installing the window.

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Ahh, I see, being as I’m in Oregon (I think you’re in SoCal if I remember correctly) we would fall into that category. Maybe that’s why broken seals are so notorious around here.

Having read ‘WC marketing blueprint’ by @Chris makes me wonder “what would he do if this happened to him while he was at the helm of Tri–County Window Cleaning?”

Hoping he is able to share with us.

Right now, even though the customer seems fine with taking the full bill, I am considering not charging them for the window cleaning or at least a discount. I am unsure though as you and TexasRich seem to think I am off the hook.

Also, while I am at it, what would Alex Lacey do in my shoes?

When a customer insists on paying for something, I usually let them. About the only time I step in and fix something myself, is if I know I can actually fix it myself, causing them less disruption and headache than if they had to track down someone who can fix it for them.

I can understand where you’re coming from, but what you did was less like adding a sack of feed onto the camel’s back, and more like adding 2 or 3 straws. The window was ready to go at any minute, and from a technical standpoint the seal had probably already failed before you touched it. Agitation just allowed air and moisture to enter through the failed seal more quickly. Using a gentler wfp technique might have prevented the up-splashing you witnessed, but I bet it still would’ve been clouded up by the end of the day.

That’s my 2¢, anyhow.

I think that if you do that, in some peoples’ mind it may appear to them that you feel you are partially to blame…when you are not.

Think for a second what that word of mouth referral is going to sound like.

Don’t let there be doubt in the clients mind about who’s fault that seal is. Even the window companies only have a 7 to 10 year warranty on seals. They will fail. Didn’t you mention that some of the windows were over 20 years old?

I would be firm on this one if it were me.

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Thanks so much for this, you’re right, 20 years old.

I didn’t apply unusual pressure so it must have been ready to blow.

I just don’t have the knowledge regarding window seals so these responses have been very helpful and I am indebted.

Disclaimer Update?

Sounds like I need to update my disclaimer to include window seals on old vinyl windows. Perhaps this is extremely rare, though, and an unnecessary item to include in the window cleaning disclaimer.

What do you think?

Many thanks, Alex, for chiming in. Everyone is saying the same thing, even the customer agrees with you all, so who am I to disagree?

This explanation you gave helped get this through to me so thanks again. Makes more sense now.

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The main problem that I encounter is crappy screens that either fall over with the wind or get caught on each other and tear, most time I replace them free unless I can poke my finger through the material. The way I see it is, its not my house I am not responsible for ensuring all things I come into contact with is in a well maintained condition, some customer look at you like and also say “What are you going to do about it?” some customers would see it as passing the buck, If I break something by accident sure I will replace it, if something falls apart in my hands due to age, cheapness prior damage then that is on the owner.

At the end of the day I would have to fill the back of my quote sheets with T & Cs that it may end up looking like a telecommunications contract.

Seems to me it could be covered by a more generic waiver regarding “pre-existing conditions” due to prior damage or age. You could list some examples.

Here is some wording from my pre-exisisting conditions waiver:

Our lawyer took a look at our document as a whole and gave it his stamp of approval earlier this year. But check with your attorney to make sure it will work for for your situation and location.

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Thanks a lot! I will have to save this for when we update the disclaimer. Having an attorney look it over is a good idea too.

I like the ‘poke test’ to determine who’s fault it is for the screen ripping. That seems pretty generous.

Thanks for sharing, Steve, and I agree about the T & C getting much too lengthy. I don’t want that either.

If that was all it took for the window seal to leak, then the seal was already compromised. There is no way brushing a window, even heavily, should cause a leaking seal. Hell you should be able to be nose to glass with a hand brush and really give it a scrubbing with no issue. If it fails it is because it was ready to fail.

Call glass manufacturers. You may be surprised at how professional and extremely helpful they are, all of the tests are pretty public, they have some sort of standard they need to meet so QC must be well documented and very transparent.

I’ve called many time when the stickers pretty much say nobody can clean it for whatever reason, they gladly clear it up. Give them a call, I changed many things about how I do things after speaking with several reps.

Thanks, Mr. Marino, I’ll have to keep that in mind–I doubt I’d ever think to call the glass manufacturer. I appreciate all your help. I did follow your advice (did not discount and thus did not take fault) and wrapping up the job went well–thankful for an understanding customer. I’m glad I heeded your warning.

If it wasn’t for this forum, I doubt any of us would be progressing as fast as we do. Pretty cool right?


Diamond Squeegee

    August 8

If it wasn’t for this forum, I doubt any of us would be progressing as fast as we do. Pretty cool right?

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    August 8

Thanks, Mr. Marino, I’ll have to keep that in mind–I doubt I’d ever think to call the glass manufacturer. I appreciate all your help. I did follow your advice (did not discount and thus did not take fault) and wrapping up the job went well–thankful for an understanding customer. I’m glad I heeded…

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