It's not. You can:
- Replace a broken pane of glass, in single-pane windows. Easy enough to do with a few tools from your local hardware store, and they'll cut you a pane of glass to size, also.
- Replace a double-paned window--just the glass part.
- Replace the entire window yourself with a replacement window -- not advisable, but it can be done.
- Defog the window.
The Window Defogging IndustryYes, it's an industry unto itself--mind you, a small industry. It's more prevalent in areas where double- and triple-paned windows are common. Companies like Window Defoggers bore tiny holes in the IGUs (insulated glass units), spray cleaning solutions inside, let the solutions dry up, and then install vents in those holes.
Holes in Your WindowsDon't be alarmed by the holes in the IGUs. First, these are tiny holes (2mm). Second, your insulated glass units never were completely air-tight in the first place. Surprised?
Well, don't be. Your sealed windows have always had venting properties. There is no way that 100% sealed glass units would stand up to the pressures of solar heating and subsequent cooling. You mean to say that the Pella salesman didn't tell you that?
Lost Krypton and Argon GasOne caveat to all this. You may ask, "What about my nice expensive Argon or Krypton gas?" Well, that Krypton gas goes the way of Superman...up in the air and away. Never to be seen again.
Personally, I have always been dubious about the value of those gases. Do they slow the transmission of energy? Yes. But Argon and Krypton have become almost like "voodoo" sales language, whereby the big window companies try to spook you into these upgrades or else.
Anyway, rant aside, Window Defoggers quite fairly points out that by the time your window gets fogged up, the seal has already failed and the gas is long gone. So, the window defogging (and drilling of holes) does not release these gases.
Cost of Window DefoggingWindow Defoggers says that their process "usually costs 1/2 to 1/3 of the cost of window replacement." On the face of it, that sounds pretty good. But then you think again--half of window replacement? Window replacement is expensive. Does this mean that the $14,000 window replacement quote is "only" $7,000 with a window defogger?
After all, replacing the glass portion of your double-paned window is much cheaper than a full window replacement. How competitive are window defoggers in comparison to glaziers who can replace the glass? That's not an answer I have right now, but I will try to update you as soon as I have more information.