The best time of year for updating your windows

The best time of year for updating your windows
The iconic Chicago Theater

I suspect it’s only rained two times in Chicago since Jan. 1 (slight exaggeration?) and both of those times were nights I planned to go to Ravinia.  I have big San Andreas Fault-type cracks in my lawn (seriously) because it’s been so dry the last few weeks. But the 2nd time I pointed my car in that direction (last week) was exactly the second time it rained. But just long enough for me to turn around and make it home.  Then the sun came out.  For only a couple of hours before it was time to set.  To mock me. 

I might try ONE MORE TIME before the season is over. If I do I’ll tell you the day so you can reschedule your wedding, cookout, parade or block party.  The minute I pack my cooler is when the sky will open up and pour out a gardener’s liquid blessing.

Even though nothing monumental happened to me this time, I did use the time to do what I have been meaning to do for a while–write to tell you about a great product I discovered in my curious wanderings as a property owner.

Delaware Building, 36 W. Randolf. Perhaps you've ducked into that McDonald's before.

Delaware Building, 36 W. Randolph. Perhaps you’ve ducked into that McDonald’s before.

I really, REALLY hate to do this to you. But I have to remind you that summer won’t last forever.  What better time for you to think about updating your windows?  It’s been a while since I’ve shared with you some cool product or service.  The Condo Expo is around the corner so let me tell you about one of the great companies you might find there.  I met Ryszard and Sebastian Borys of Signa System, Inc. (Scandinavian Insulated Glass of North America). On top of them both being pretty cool guys who were interesting to talk to, their company offers a really nice service I had never heard of.

What happens when older windows don’t meet today’s building standards (or even just the owner’s expectations) for energy efficiency, but changes to the façade of the structure might affect the architectural/aesthetic integrity?  Meaning, you want your building to look as charming as when it was built 100 years ago but you don’t want to lose the curb appeal or pay a fortune in energy bills.

Signa System, Inc. created a patented process of converting single-glazed windows to insulating glass by adding a custom sheet of extra glass to an existing window.  It doesn’t matter what type of framing surrounds the existing windows (wood, steel, aluminum).  Clear or tinted film can be applied to the inside of the glass to reduce UV rays and to protect the film from scratches.  A moisture absorbent spacer and a heating wire are placed in between and the whole thing is sealed with a hermetic bond.

“We now feel safe to change the floor and discovered a surprising benefit.  Our dog (Zeus) prefers to rest next to the windows.  In the past, this required frequent mopping and towel drying.  Zeus can now sleep in his favorite spot and not get soaked.”–customer review

This makes the outside of the building remain unchanged while increasing the comfort level of the interior.  Because of the hermetic seal, this reduces cleaning down to two surfaces as opposed to four or six with other methods of insulation.  All this without interfering with the operation of the window.  Plus it can be more cost-effective than a full window replacement.  They do a lot of work with condo associations to help individual owners to improve the comfort of their units.  This can also increase the re-sale value of a unit.

Customers write letters about the friendly and professional work crews.  Existing windows are measured and the add-ons are custom cut offsite to eliminate noise and a messy worksite.  Installation is quick, easy and clean–plus no demolition is required.  And guess what?  They can even add a THIRD sheet of glass if that’s what you want.  Whatever floats your boat.  An amazing idea!

910 North Lake Shore, Chicago

910 North Lake Shore, Chicago

Reduced cost, energy savings, environment-friendly considerations, noise abatement (traffic, wind, etc.), and frost-free panes to improve visibility are only some of the benefits of upgrading older, single-glazed windows.  Some customers have shared glowing testimonials with the company about the unexpected benefits of this installation.

One condo owner noticed they were better able to regulate the humidity levels within their unit which in turn allowed their hardwood floors to stop curling at the edges during the coldest, driest months.  Another customer found the new windows prevented condensation which would drip down the old panes and damage their hardwood floors.

All dogs love to sunbathe, not just Zeus

All dogs love to sunbathe, not just Zeus

A different customer who wrote about how the windows ended year’s-worth of damage to the floors shared this story.   The customer wrote, “We now feel safe to change the floor and discovered a surprising benefit.  Our dog (Zeus) prefers to rest next to the windows.  In the past, this required frequent mopping and towel drying.  Zeus can now sleep in his favorite spot and not get soaked.”  Yep, you heard right.  These windows are even Zeus-endorsed.

Signa System worked on 200 S. Wells in Chicago (the school for IRS agents), 530 S. Clark in Chicago (the old FBI Building and office of Homeland Security), and the Commander’s Building at the Great Lakes US Naval Training Center north of Chicago.  Now you can bet these guys wouldn’t be brave enough to hang around in those types of circles unless they had a product they could stand by.  They even did work at the city’s iconic Chicago Theater Building.

Chicago warehouse fire aftermath

Chicago warehouse fire aftermath, truck and barrels covered in ice

There are installations around the Chicago area which have lasted over 36 years and they are still as effective as the day they were installed.  With the crazy-cold, character-building winters we experience here in Chiberia, this is saying A LOT.  The system works so well that Dirk Lohan, grandson of Chicago architecture legend Mies van der Rohe, hired Signa to improve the windows on one of his grandfather’s historic landmarks in the early 1980s.

Yes, I blogged about window replacement and knickers a couple of weeks ago, but the type of service Signa System offers does not fit my current situation.  So I’m not telling you about them for ulterior motives.***   I just believe they offer an excellent product and this info might be helpful to some landlord out there.  And they were really nice guys.

Ryszard Borys in 1987 standing in front of one of his projects

Ryszard Borys in 1987 standing in front of one of his projects

Ryszard Borys was a young man raising a family in Scandinavia in the early 1970s.  As a tall, solidly-built, dark-haired Polish man trying to make a living in a fair-haired, fair-skinned society, Ryszard told me he found it difficult to fit in sometimes.  This also limited his business and employment opportunities.  When no one would hire him despite his training as a highly-skilled architect, Ryszard got busy developing his own product and company.  From these challenges a way cool new product was born.  Being a person of color makes me admire someone who stays positive and gets creative in the face of adversity.

***I approached this company at an expo and I volunteered to blog about them because I think they have a service which would be helpful to readers.  I have not received any endorsements or other benefits in exchange for this post.

For info, contact:
Sebastian Borys
Sales & Marketing Manager 
(312) 877-8181
Signa System, Inc.

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