When dual pane windows develop an air leak, moisture can enter in between the panes, which makes the glass appear dirty and cloudy. Such was the case with the upper portion of my three section window that is mounted to the left of my motorhome driver's seat.
Even though my coach is no longer under warranty, Fleetwood was kind enough to contact the window manufacturer for me and got approval for a free replacement window, as long as I returned to old window to them. I was responsible however for the labor involved.
I decided to tackle this job myself. I am very lucky as I have a friend that works for Fleetwood. He was able to secure a couple of installation needs as well as some installation advice. One piece of advice that I did not follow, which I am sorry for, is how/when to apply sealant/caulking around the outside of the window. More about that later...
I posted a message thread in another forum and asked for some help. I was told to simply remove the trim screws from the inside, pop out the window and reverse the procedure for the new window. I am here to tell you that it is not quite that simple, even if everything goes perfectly.
First I measured both the old and the replacement windows to make sure they were a match. They were, so I proceeded.
A word of caution: This is a two person job. You need one person outside the coach on a ladder to secure the window, while someone on the inside does the hand work.
Removing the old window was the easiest part of the job. First, you must cut the silicone/sealant applied around the outside of the window. I used a razor blade for this.
On the inside there are about 25 sheet metal screws around the window trim. These screws need to be removed to release the window. The bottom screws presented a bit of a challenge, as they were partially obstructed by the curvature of my dash. I had to use the below tool to remove them, and then again to replace them during the installation of the new window.
After removing all of the screws and metal trim, I began to strike the metal trim of the old window lightly with a soft rubber mallet, while my helper (son) held onto the window from his ladder outside the window. This loosened it up a little, and then with several pushes by hand, I was able to push the window out into his hands. Dual pane windows can be very heavy, so I had to hurry outside to help him set the window on the ground.
Next, we began to thoroughly clean the window opening, getting rid of the old silicone. I used a razor again, as well as a good old fashioned fingernail, being careful not to scratch the painted surface.
Now to prepare the new window for installation. In the photo above you will see my coach with the old window removed. It is important to make sure that you properly prepare the opening for the new window. Fleetwood has their own procedure so I followed it. They make a black tape that has a plastic coating on one side and a black sort of tar coating on the other. Fleetwood recommends placing this tape along the bottom edge of the window opening, and then up a few inches on each side. I then applied an insulating rubber tape around the inside edge of the new window, in addition to the inside edge of the interior trim piece. I acquired both installation tapes from my contact at Fleetwood.
The window seemed to fit just fine from the outside, but I had some trouble affixing the interior metal trim piece. It was a little different than the trim from the original window. I had to use my Dremel to trim a corner of the interior window opening (interior wall) to make the trim fit flush. I at this point realized that 20+ screws that secure the interior trim to the window frame (holding to in place) did not have pre-drilled holes. Time to break out the drill!
There was no way to drill out all of the holes because of the dash, so we had to remove the new window again and drill the holes while outside the coach. I wanted to make sure there was a limited amount of shifting, so I pre-drilled six holes while the window was still in place. Once outside, I anchored these six holes with screws, so that the rest of the holes would be aligned properly. This turned out to be an important precaution.
After almost an hour of careful drilling we were ready to re-fit the window. We first placed the interior trim piece in through the window opening to the inside of the coach. This made it easier than trying to carry it inside and getting it past the window curtain. We then placed the new window back into the opening and I began to secure the window with a few strategically placed screws. The next step is where I really screwed up.
I had always been under the opinion that it is smart to apply caulking/silicone to a window edge before the window is fully secured, allowing the silicone to "ooze"Ě out around the edges, smoothing out the silicone with a wet finger. With this mind set, I applied the silicone before buttoning up the window from this inside. This was a regrettable mistake. My Fleetwood friend said to apply the silicone as the last step. I should have followed that advice.
I moved back inside where I began to button up the window. Contrary to our dry fit, my son & I had problems getting the window perfectly aligned with the inside trim. Some of the holes that I drilled didn't match perfectly and I had to do some grunt work to get the trim to fit flush again. By the time I was done, the silicone that I had applied had begun to cure in the California sun, which prevented me from going over it with my finger, leaving a terrible looking finish. I at that point made the decision to remove the window again, clean off all of the semi-dried silicone (the center of if had not fully cured), and remove and replace the now silicone-laden rubber insulating tape. It took a great deal of time to clean everything including the exterior of the window opening. What a pain!
After we got everything all cleaned up, we re-fitted the window and re-secured the interior metal trim. I decided to wait until the coolness of the next morning to re-apply the silicone to the outside window edges.
Even though it was a lot of work and I made a huge bumbling mistake, I'm glad I did it myself. I saved myself a lot of $$ in labor costs, and I feel much more experienced and prepared should I ever need to repeat this procedure on another window (let's pray that never happens!).
Hopefully this will help someone who may be contemplating doing the same job.