Trombe Wall Panel Failure

We were out of town for about two weeks visiting our daughter and family in Germany. While we were gone there were several days of high winds. Since I left the Trombe glass panels stuck on with just the butyl tape and no trim we returned to find one panel on the ground. Miraculously unbroken.

Fallen Pane
Fallen Pane

The bottom frame piece fell out of the L hooks and turned 90 degrees.

Bottom channel sideways
Bottom channel was sideways

After straightening the bottom frame piece, I applied more butyl tape and we lifted the frame back into place. Then I nailed on a trim piece to hold it. I went to the other windows that were not trimmed and pushed them back into place where the butyl was loose. But I was not exaggerating about the wind.

Very windy in the last couple of weeks
Very windy in the last couple of weeks

That evening I saw another pane had fallen!

Casualty number two
Casualty number two

The next day, with more butyl tape and straightening the frame and we lifted this one back into place too. But I realized that trim was absolutely needed to keep the windows from falling and possibly breaking.

Reinstalled and trim to hold it on one side
Reinstalled and trim to hold it on one side

At first I thought of some gray bamboo trim I have that is meant for interior floor transitions. I bought a few boxes of it from Repurposed Materials. But not only was it difficult to use the trim nail gun to nail it to the wall but it chipped badly from the nails.

I also have a big pile of PVC lattice edging that I bought from Repurposed Materials. They are in all colors but the dark brown matched the front the best. As I was using this for the framing and then for the trim I realized that this is the color that has the fewest pieces. So I’m using practically every last one. I suppose that is good because I need to use up materials I have around the place.

Also repaired and reinstalled
Also repaired and reinstalled with edging between frames

There were just a few double sided trim pieces in this color and I realized I could cut off one of the edges and have an overlapping piece to hold the panels. That meant I could replace the bamboo that was not working with the PVC. The big problem was not having enough. I decided I could use other colors if I ran out. I used a little bit of gray instead of brown for the West side window. Then I cut several overlapping trim pieces and fit them beside the outside edges of the panes. I used the multitool to cut these and it worked perfectly although the blades got dull quickly.

Trimmed on the sides needs top trim
Trimmed on the sides needs top trim

Then I bridged the pieces between the frames with the double edge piece by cutting the two edges apart creating a nice 2″ wide top trim.

Nothing is easy about this project though. The siding has the waterway drainage layer so it overlays the panels and the tops of the windows. The cut logs I thought I would use for the top trim don’t hide the edge of the siding. I wanted to continue to use PVC around these windows except for the header logs so the work stalled while I drove to Home Depot for a solution.

I returned with some 12′ white pvc quarter round. I was worried about nailing into the fiberglass window frames so I used 3m tape to hold the quarter round into place and I screwed log headers above the windows. These match the interior of the house.

Log Headers
Log Headers

The last piece to replace was the long narrow area that did not fit standard patio door size glass. I tried to buy twin wall polycarbonate from Home Depot but they had their coloplast plastic cardboard marked as polycarbonate. So I decided to check Colorado Plastics in Louisville. I was able to get a piece cut to the correct measurements for about the same price as a sheet from Home Depot (if they had the right product). It was ready in a couple of days and I picked it up.

I made the same frame from the brown lattice edge pieces that I made for the glass windows. Then I installed the L shaped hooks and used the butyl tape to hold the panel in place. I still need to trim this window and put headers on the second section but I’m not going to be evaluated on headers or trim so I moved to working inside again.

Installed polycarbonate twinwall panel
Installed polycarbonate twinwall panel
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