Some Considerations for Winter Installs

It seems that every year about this time I write about cold weather installations. However, it’s an important topic and after last week’s post concerning the potential demise of mobile installations, I felt winter installation is a good issue to piggyback on to that one.

How cold is “cold?” For our purposes, I’ll define cold as below 40 degrees. However, every technician I know in northern climates has done installations in below freezing temperatures, and most have worked below 0 degrees. They hate it.

Mouldings and trim are more brittle and break easier, chemicals and adhesives have to be warmed for ease of use, the glass cleaner freezes as soon as it hits the glass, you have to get the keys and warm up the vehicle, and, man, it is just cold out there.

I believe the customer already knows cold weather installs are not ideal. That’s one of the factors for a downturn in business every winter. Yes, I know that there are other good reasons for business slowdowns in the winter – less travel, less road construction and snow doesn’t break windshields.  However, there is something to be said for those many customers in my career who have told me, “I’ll wait until spring to get my glass fixed.”

Can a windshield be installed safely in the winter? Yes, it can. However, there are a number of things that must be done to assure that the installation is safe and the technician is comfortable:

  • Read the technical data sheets and adhesive instructions for storage and use requirements.
  • Don’t store your chemicals where they can be frozen. Some adhesives do not have detrimental effects if frozen, but some do. Does yours? What about primers, adhesives and cleaners? All of these may need room temperature storage. If your service vehicle is not parked in a heated garage overnight, then you’ll have to bring in your chemicals every night.
  • Get the keys to the vehicle and warm it up before beginning. Ask for permission and check the gas gauge. You would hate to run the customer’s car out of fuel.
  • Remove all snow and wetness from the top of the vehicle so the warming car does not melt snow and allow water to flow onto the pinchweld and bonding areas.
  • Allow for longer drying times for primers and preps. The urethane will give you longer tack-free times and working times but also longer safe drive-away times (SDAT).
  • A cold technician hurries the job and makes mistakes. Dress warmly and in layers so when the day warms up layers can be removed for comfort. If you get too cold while doing the job, take a break and get in your warm service vehicle. Oh, by the way, keep your vehicle running all day to keep chemicals and adhesives warm and malleable.
  • Use a more moderate viscosity adhesive so it can be decked smoothly and evenly. Some high-viscosity adhesives will not allow you to deck the glass to the finished position.

I know there are technicians who have no choice in doing mobile installations because they do not have a bricks and mortar shop to which vehicles can be taken. However, if you take a look at the points above and calculate the costs of extra fuel, wouldn’t it be better and more profitable if you just schedule your work “in shop” – or at least indoors?  Then, you may be able to convince all your customers that shop installation is better for quality and scheduling, not to mention more profitable for you’re the service provider. Stay warm out there.