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Conservatories, Sunrooms - Your questions Answered
Miscellaneous USA/Canada

Please note: Most of the answers we feature here are from 1999 - early 2002. We endeavour to keep all links etc up to date, however if you spot any errors please let our webmaster know at It should also be noted that some replies may change in light of changes to legislation especially with regards to Planning Permission and Building Regulations. To submit a new question or to query an existing question visit

Question submitted by Jack

I have just seen a new Four Seasons System 4 Victorian Conservatory in America. In the underneath of the "eavestrough unit" (adjacent to the eavestrough) there is a small hole every 2 1/2 feet and every time it rains water comes out these holes making it messy at ground level. Why is this? How can it be corrected?

Question submitted by a Canadian Visitor

We would like to install a "sunroom", not necessarily for plants. But the only space we have is on the north side of the house. Does it make sense putting one there?

Question submitted by Lynn

I am located in the United States and I have been researching three products that originate in Europe and are imported for sale in the US. I presume these products have an established market and reputation in the UK although they are not well known in the US market. Therefore, I thought you could assist me by letting me know the price range, quality reputation, popularity, positive/negative characteristics, etc. of these products in the UK.

The brands are Canterbury (PVC), Classic (aluminum) and Wicks (wood) (sold in the US under the name Hartford). I am looking for a Victorian model to attach "lean-to" fashion to the side of my home. I would like the room to function 4 seasons and contain a hot tub. Based in Roslyn, USA.

This question is answered by the Conservatories Online editorial team - Hi Lynn - All of these companies use products supplied from leading UK conservatory systems manufacturers. The question is however difficult for us to answer as we know all three companies and one of them - Classic, is a sponsor of our web site. For us it would come down to which company could offer the best support, warranties and the most satisfactory conservatory to house a hot tub. While he is of course not impartial we did as Chris Edwards at Classic for his comments. This is what he had to say...

"Perhaps the best approach to your question is determined by your use. The Wickes/Hartford conservatory is made of wood. It would be presumable that the enclosed hot tub will make moisture which will deteriorate a wood environment, thus requiring regular painting or staining. Both the Classic Conservatory and Canterbury products utilize comparable raw materials. While the two offer similar appearance, the structure of the two products is different. Classic Conservatories has an office on Long Island while Canterbury, being based in Michigan, is somewhat removed. I am familiar with the owners of both Hartford and Canterbury and both appear to be people of integrity. If local support is not important to you, then I suggest you investigate the merits of the products of all three."

Question submitted by Chuck

I'm planning to build a four-season conservatory and don't want to have any leakage or condensation problems. So far I have looked at an aluminium frame system with thermal breaks and at a red cedar system. Naturally the two dealers claim the other will have problems; the aluminium frame will still sweat and the cedar will swell and contract between seasons likely causing some type of leakage problem. Can you give an opinion and let me know which would be better. The summers here are a bit dry and the winters are fairly wet (rain). We get light frost regularly but snow is rare. (Question edited)

This question answered by John Dyck of - based in Ontario. Canada - Both Aluminium and cedar are good choices for the interior of a conservatory. We do feel however that aluminium on the exterior is better in the Canadian climate as it performs better and lasts longer.

It is not the wood or aluminium frame that will cause leakage and condensation problems - it is the way the wood beams are designed for the glass to sit on, and the thermal break (or lack off) in the aluminium beams. Proper heating and the right glass are also required. Example 1 below shows a type of beam design that can cause problems in the long run as the wood can expand and contract with the humidity, causing it to leak and eventually rot.

Example 2 is in our opinion a much better design as the glass is seated on an extrusion that expands very little with temperature changes. This design keeps any moisture away from the wood. In addition the beam is made up from laminated wood strips which prevents the beam from swelling and contracting with the change in humidity from dry to wet seasons. This type of design if properly installed will not leak.
Please click to enlarge Please click to enlarge

click on the images above for a larger view.

A good insulated glass should also be used to prevent heat loss in the winter and heat gain in the summer. A thermally broken aluminium frame conservatory should not condensate if properly heated. The company you choose to purchase from should do a heat loss calculation for your conservatory based on the heating requirements for your area and design and install the heating accordingly. With a properly designed, heated and installed conservatory whether cedar or aluminium you will have many years of trouble free enjoyment.

Question submitted by Brenda

We have just recently moved from Florida to the Chicago area and would some day like to have a conservatory or greenhouse. But what happens to the glass under the weight of heavy snow? Does the room get hot enough to melt the snow or do I have to go out and brush it off? And what about the summer? Can the room get too hot for the plants? We want to be able to grow some of the citrus plants we had in our back yard in Florida but would still like to enjoy the room. How do you know how hot is has to be?

This question answered by Chris Edwards of - Your question seems to fall primarily into two parts. First, every room is designed to conform to the snow load requirements in the state it will be constructed. Secondly, regarding heating and cooling for citrus plants, we would recommend that you would speak to the supplier to determine the appropriate climate if you are building your conservatory to grow exotic plants. Many of our clients are garden enthusiasts and are surrounded by a variety of flora and fauna both inside and outside.


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