Home builder replaces melted vinyl siding

Home builder replaces melted vinyl siding

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by STUART WATSON / NewsChannel 36

Bio | Email | Follow: @stuartwcnc

WCNC.com

Posted on December 15, 2010 at 2:53 PM

Updated Wednesday, Dec 15 at 2:53 PM

CHARLOTTE, N.C.-- Following a NewsChannel 36 I-Team investigation, home builder Pulte Homes has replaced melted vinyl siding on a south Charlotte home, and the Chairman of the NC Building Codes Council has promised action to stop it from happening again.

In February the I-Team first told the story of Lisa Forlenza, a home owner in the Auburn Place neighborhood off Rea Road in South Charlotte, who distributed a flier with a bold headline: "My home is melting... Is yours?"

Forlenza complained that her builder, Pulte Homes, refused to repair vinyl siding which melted under the heat of sunlight reflected and focused from energy efficient windows in the house next door.

The I-Team found that Pulte was hardly the only home builder with the problem.

Some so-called "Low-E" energy efficient, double-paned windows, warp inward creating a lens that focuses sunlight like a magnifying glass on adjacent vinyl walls.

After that first report, dozens of other home owners, not just in the Carolinas but as far away as Michigan, Massachusetts, even Canada wrote the I-Team to report similar problems.

The Vinyl Siding Institute, a trade group, suggested screens over the windows and vegetation to block the intense focused sunlight. But Forlenza says that's just a band aid, not a long term solution to the problem.

Some building materials experts blame the vinyl; others blame the windows. "It's a finger pointing situation," says Forlenza.

Friday morning Pulte Homes and Ply-Gem, the maker of the siding, teamed up to put new aluminum siding on Ms. Forlenza's home. She refused vinyl. "That was part of the problem, because, I guess vinyl has a lower melting point," she said. "This is aluminum, so it has a higher heat resistance, so hopefully we won't be in this problem again." 

Dan Tingen, the Chairman of the North Carolina Building Codes Council, which writes the building codes for the state, vows to address the bigger problem. "We're going to do it in a carrot and stick manner," says Tingen. "It's going to be our job at least for the state of North Carolina to resolve this thing."

Tingen, a Raleigh home builder, has assigned the windows-melt-siding quandary to a committee to investigate and come up with a model code to address the combination of windows and siding.

He says it may take a year or more, but he promises new codes to remedy the problem.

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