Can you fix it?

By Rapierstar.

With so many people spending so much more time at home than usual as a result of the coronavirus lockdown, it was inevitable that we’d see a surge in DIY home improvement activity.

All those jobs that have been put off for years have finally been started, and some even finished.

But what about the things that need attention but are beyond the skills of most DIYers? And what about the things that have broken during the lockdown and will now need a skilled tradesperson to come around to fix it at the earliest opportunity?

It would be no surprise if we see if an increase in demand for window and door repairs as a result of the lockdown; at a time when we were already seeing an increasing number of requests for repairs to first generation PVCU installations, especially doors.

For homeowners, whose windows and doors are largely in good condition, repairs to the hinges, handles and locks will get them back into full working order and give them a great new lease of life. All at a relatively low cost.

It is, however, crucial that the repairs are completed to the right standard, and that means choosing your fasteners and fixing screws with care. That’s why you should talk to your window supplier, trade counter, or Rapierstar if you are in any doubt.

Here are three repair screw considerations.

Corrosion risk: use austenitic stainless steel fasteners. Rusty screws cause more problems than anything else. So, while it is sensible to think that any repair fasteners you use to make repairs are consistent with the original design life of the window – and match the type of metal of the screw you are replacing – there is no guarantee this was right in the first place.

For example, a PVCU window fitted at a property located by the coast should have been manufactured with hinges, handles and locking systems that have an enhanced level of resistance to corrosion; given that the coastal atmosphere is salt-laden and more corrosive. The same applies to the fasteners, which in this case will need to be austenitic stainless steel, and definitely not the more widely used carbon steel.

In these situations, if a carbon steel screw is used to tighten up a friction stay that has become loose, corrosion could set in after only a couple of years, and that window will need to be repaired again at great expense in comparison to the tiny unit cost of the screw.

Given the tiny difference in price per screw, it is better to remove any doubt and simply use austenitic stainless steel for all repairs that you do.

Achieving a secure fix: increasing the fastener size (diameter) to cut a new thread. With repairs to PVCU frames, it is also important to remember to use a larger fastener size than the one it is replacing. It may sound obvious, but we see examples where this advice is not followed, making it difficult to achieve a secure fix for handles, hinges and locking systems.

Repair screws for PVCU are usually 4.8mm diameter and they will often be necessary. However, if the screws pick up reinforcing, then it is usually best to try another 3.9mm to start with. These screws will usually ‘bite’ where reinforcement is present, but if they don’t it is worth seeking advice as it may be that one of the bigger screw sizes will provide the solution. You can always contact Rapierstar’s technical team direct for further help.

Would an alternative approach to the fixing be a better solution altogether. There is plenty of specialist advice available to ensure you can make the right fastener choices for repairs. Rapierstar, for example, produces Recommended Fixing Manuals (RFMs) for all the major PVCU profile systems. These easy-to-use guides show exactly which fasteners you should use to attach hardware, as well as when coupling assemblies and installing bay windows. These are a useful starting point to identify the right fastener, as this may not have been used originally.

And even if you face a situation that isn’t covered by an RFM, there are more than 120 fastener types available from Rapierstar alone, one of which could be the ideal solution for whatever fixing challenge is being faced. For example, Rapierstar WSR self-drilling baypole fixings, available in lengths from 50mm to 100mm, are incredibly versatile and we know from feedback that installers use them for many different purposes, including when fitting sills.