Melting siding - 7News Boston WHDH-TV

Melting siding

You've got to see to believe what our investigation uncovered: the siding on people's homes across the state is literally blistering and bubbling into a damaged distorted mess! What's causing this melt down? And could your home be next? Hank Investigates.

What's going on with the vinyl siding on this house in Somerville? Its bumpy and bubbly and distorted. It looks like the same thing that's wrong with this house in Medford. And this one in East Boston..

And the same thing seems to be happening to Maria and Jimmy's house in Malden.

Maria Altacea, Homeowner

It's melting, it's actually melting!

You heard right - melting. Here's how one side of their house looks--fine. Here's the other..a mess. And--it sounds strange--but these homeowners think the damage was caused by heat from the sun being reflected off their neighbor's windows!

Hank

Can you see the heat hit your house?

Jimmy Altacea, Homeowner

Oh, yeah, ..you can see.. It's like a mirror reflecting, like a magnifying glass off the side of the house

Hank

What did you think?

Jimmy Altacea, Homeowner

I couldn't believe it.

Impossible? Nope. And if you have vinyl siding your house could be next!

Look at this video from the National Vinyl Siding Institute. It's a time-lapse, showing how--in what they say are rare occasions-- the sun can reflect off certain energy-efficient windows--called "low-e"--and onto adjacent vinyl siding. There’s nothing wrong with the siding, and there's nothing wrong with the windows--the special coating and double panes actually save energy.

But if the angle of the sun, the shape of the windows and the reflection come together in just the wrong way--the resulting heat can zap a spot on the side of a house--and melt the siding.

The heat damage was pretty easy to find. We drove around Boston suburbs looking for the critical combination--low-e windows on one side, siding on the other, homes close together with no trees or barriers between them. And look. Look. Look. At this house in Somerville...the owner told us she'd been trying to figure out what was happening!

Hank:

Your siding is melting!

Jennifer Berglund, Homeowner

Yeah, that's crazy!

Hank:

Did you know that could happen?

Jennifer Berglund, Homeowner

No, I didn't.

The National Association of Home Builders acknowledges this is a potential problem. Its report says "the heat generated by the focused reflected sunlight has proven to visibly damage and distort vinyl siding on nearby houses."

The trade association for window manufacturers says it happens only rarely.

Jeff Inks, VP of Code and Regulatory Affairs, Window and Door Manufacturers Association

Energy efficient windows are perforimng the way they're designed to perform...and that is to reflect sunlight and heat.”

Now the homeowners are trying to figure out who's gonna pay for the damage because no one's done anything wrong.

Maria Altacea, Homeowner

And nobody wants to take responsibility, that's why we called you!

Problem is--if you replace your siding--it's just going to happen again. But experts say the melting can often be stopped by putting screens or awnings on the windows--or by putting trees or shrubs between the homes.

For more information on this click here:

http://www.vinylsiding.org/aboutsiding/cleanmain/solarandheat/index.asp

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