December 26, 2006

Windows let the world in

There are three leaky windows in this small bay.

We had a heavy rainstorm in La Ceiba yesterday. It started in the afternoon and lasted pretty much all through the night.

Before I went to bed, I mopped five rooms because the windows were leaking water all over the floors. Then I put towels all across the window sills to try to stem the flow. I woke up early to find that two of the bedroom are flooded again, even though El Jefe apparently got up during the night and mopped again because there is about two gallons of water in the mop bucket. (I found out later that he mopped twice.)

The storm was really loud. At one point, the wind was coming through the closed windows, sounding like, "Whoo-oo, whoo-ooo." Like ghosts. It spooked the dogs. Our windows don't keep out sun, heat, cold, insects, geckos, rain, or wind! Wonderful.

The paint on the window sills is bubbling up from all the water, as is some of the paint on the walls below the windows. You see, here in La Ceiba, they install windows without sealing between the window frame and the wall. They insisted that they could be caulked afterward. I thought they knew what they were doing. We have recaulked and sealed around the frames of the windows inside and out to no avail. Somehow the water keeps coming in.

We have three really tall windows in the stairway going down to the garage. (Photo above) I have perched on tall ladders caulking everything I can find to caulk and still water comes in between the top and bottom sections. No, they don't 'leak' − they rain. I have actually been rained on standing on the stairway landing. I can't figure it out.

The most common windows here in Honduras are the aluminum jalousie types or the aluminum sliding windows, which we have. Wood windows aren't practical. That's what I wanted but our architect told us that no one here knows how to make them and the climate in La Ceiba isn't kind to them anyway.

He said if we got wood windows, he was sure we would end up taking them out and replacing them in a very few years. None of the windows are standard size and ordering them from well-known companies in the US would cost a fortune and we would still have to use installers here which would probably defeat the purpose of using well-made windows.

PVC windows are available. One San Pedro Sula company advertises their European PVC windows. We got a quote from them: L. 483,000! And that wasn't including screens! It is possible to build a small house here for L. 483,000 (about $27,000 at the time). We saw a neighbor's house that had a couple of these windows. They were terrible! Handles had fallen off, silicone smeared all over the frame, and the owners had been waiting two months for them to come back and repair them.

Even though windows were the second most expensive component of our home, after the teja roof, this is what we have.
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