Knowing how to maintain windows is one of the most important aspects of being a homeowner. Since windows are the feature that gives each room a clear view to the outside, it is crucial to keep your windows clean, tight and secure. Window maintenance consists of several key steps that apply to all styles, whether you are maintaining double-hung windows, basement windows, awning windows, garden windows, casement windows or bay and bow windows.
How to Preserve, Clean and Maintain Your Windows
Window cleaning is a relatively simple task. Learn how to clean windows easily with the following window maintenance tips:
At the start of each season, inspect each window in your home for signs of moisture, rot, wear, tear or drafts. If your windows have wooden frames, make sure that the finish is healthy and check for any scrapes or areas of saturation. If moisture settles into any raw spots on the wood, it could lead to mold and rot.
During each inspection, be sure to check the panes, frames, locks, latches, stripping, caulk and sills for evidence of erosion or dysfunction. If the windows are dirty, clean them with appropriate formulas for the glass panes and frame material.
If necessary, hire a professional to come and inspect your windows. Even if you inspect each window in full, a window expert will often notice details and problems that you could easily miss. If there is anything lacking in your standard maintenance procedures, the inspector can point out those issues and give you advice on how to better care for your windows.
Replacing Cracked Windows Glass
Perhaps the most obvious sign of a window in distress is the presence of a crack on one of the panes, at least in most cases where the crack is readily apparent to the naked eye. If the crack is large, you will probably see it soon after it appears. If the crack occurs when your blinds are closed, you will probably still hear the difference if harsh winds or loud vehicles move through your neighborhood. In any case, a crack in your window will compromise the insulation within your home and render your living space vulnerable to outside noise and the elements.
A crack in a window can easily spread over time and cause the whole window to shatter. Even if the crack is small, the problem could worsen if tremors take hold of your house at any time. If one of your window panes incurs a chip, that could be the start of a crack because the integrity of the glass will now be compromised.
Various things can cause cracks. If a hail storm sweeps through your neighborhood, some of your windows could get chipped or cracked if the winds are especially strong. If a bird runs into your window or pecks against the glass, that too could cause a crack. If kids are throwing balls near your property, a stray throw could impact your window with force. Whatever the cause, a cracked pane of glass should be switched out immediately.
If a crack forms on the inner or outer pane of a double-paned window, do not put off replacing the window. Even with the one intact pane, your window will be compromised because the crack will leak out the argon gas that provides strength and insulation to double-pane windows.
Check for Moisture on Your Inner Panes
In the wintertime, check for signs of moisture on the inside of your window panes. Moisture can accumulate on colder days because cold air is unable to retain moisture. Consequently, the moisture content within the air will deposit onto cold surfaces. In your home, the coldest surface of all will inevitably be your windows. This is the same reason why the windshield in your car must be constantly defogged during colder months.
For the windows on your home, any moisture that does deposit should only be on the outer panes. If moisture deposits on your inner panes and you have not boiled water or taken a hot shower, you probably have a draft that is leaking cold air into your living quarters. This would likely be the case if you find yourself wiping moisture off the window several times each day.
If you are getting moisture on the inside of your window panes, check the stripping to see whether it is damaged or intact. If the issue is not the stripping, check the edges for signs of a draft between the glass and the surrounding frame. Either way, you will probably need to replace the stripping or add caulk to the window.
Caulking and Sealing Windows
One of the more elusive problems in windows is the presence of gaps and drafts, which can form along the seams and edges of window frames and panes. If gaps form along the sides of your windows, your house could lose its insulation as air passes between the interior and exterior of your house. To prevent this from happening, you should inspect your windows periodically for drafts and seal the gaps when necessary.
To determine whether gaps are present along the edges of your panes or inner frames, hold a lighter or match in front of your windows from the inside and run the flame along the edges of each pane. If the flame blows inward at any point along the side of the window, you have located a draft.
Use sealant or caulk to close off any gaps along the edges of your windows. Caulk is easy to apply. You simply point the caulk gun at one corner of your window pane and move the gun down, dispensing evenly to close the seam between the glass and the frame. Once you complete one side, do the other three sides of the pane in question. If a sash consists of multiple panes, caulk the edges of each individual pane. Make sure to spread the caulk evenly for a sleek, tight and non-intrusive application.
With caulk in place, you can seal off wind drafts that could otherwise leave your interiors cold during the winter months. This can also help you save on your heating bills because you won’t have to crank the heat to compensate for lost warmth in your rooms. Caulked windows can also seal out moisture and excess humidity from your living quarters.
Replace Weather Stripping
Of all the parts that comprise a window assembly, the least noticed is the stripping, which is located in the grooves of each frame. The stripping is there to block the passage of wind to the inside and also prevent interior warmth from seeping through to the outside. As you open and shut your window, the stripping can gradually become worn.
As moisture and temperature changes occur, the stripping is liable to expand and contract and ultimately lose its hold. It is, therefore, crucial to inspect the stripping each year for signs for peels or cracks. In some cases, stripping can break off in certain places, indicating an urgent need for maintenance. If the striping is worn or damaged, remove it from the grooves and replace it with fresh stripping. If you do this while the weather is either hot or cold, you will probably feel quite an improvement to the insulation within the room in question.
Inspect Locks and Latches
For your windows to be fully functioning, the locks and latches must be in good condition. It is therefore important to inspect the locks and latches on each window in your house, even on the windows that you never open. If any of the locks or latches are dysfunctional, the safety of your home could be compromised.
Locks can get hardened into a permanently locked position on windows that you leave shut for several years. This is due, in part, to the effects of changing weather, which can cause your windows to expand and contract several different times amid passing hot and cold spells. If the area around the window becomes a magnet for moisture, the water could have a corrosive effect on the locks and latches.
As rust takes hold, the touching metals can get stuck together. If your windows fall into this condition, they can also be difficult to open and close because of hardening and swelling within the tracks. For all of these reasons, it is crucial to unfasten and fasten your locks at least once each year and make sure that each window can slide open and shut as intended. If any of your locks or latches become rusty or worn, replace them with matching or similar replacement parts.
Enhance Windows With Film Coating
An easy and nonintrusive way to boost your insulation and make your windows more effective is to have the glass coated with Low-E film. The film is designed to reflect heat and help you maintain a more constant temperature indoors. During the winter months, the transparent film can help you conserve heat within your living quarters.
If your windows are already coated with Low-E film, check the edges of the film during each inspection you perform on your windows. While the film is generally strong and durable, it can slowly degrade and peel at the edges after several years. The film could also get damaged if you employ the wrong cleaning methods or formulas on your windows. To avoid this problem, refrain from using rough brushes when cleaning coated panes of glass. As you clean, watch the film for any discoloration or bubble formations, as this would indicate a degrading film quality.
Clean the Window Tracks
Make sure that the window tracks remain functional and free of obstructions. During the spring and summer seasons, the tracks can incur wear and tear as you open and shut the windows. Without proper maintenance, sliding window tracks can also accumulate dirt, spider webs and debris. If moisture deposits in the tracks, gunk can form that will gradually inhibit movement as you open and close the window. To prevent these problems from developing, clean your window tracks at least once in the spring and again in the summer.
If any of the track parts break or become misaligned, replace them immediately. An elevated window could abruptly drop if the track parts that support it are broken.
How to Clean Your Home’s Windows
During the warmer months when you constantly open and shut your windows, you should also clean the panes and frames every two or three months. The task consists of the following steps:
- Vacuum the windowsills, tracks and frames with a hand vac or brush attachment on your vacuum cleaner.
- Dampen a sponge with water and window cleaner and run it over the glass panes in circular motions. Make sure to clean the edges.
- Dry the window with paper towels, running the cloth up and down or left and right in straight motions. You can also do this step with newspaper as long as you wear work gloves.
- Sweep the outside window frames with a broom.
- Repeat the same washing steps that you did on the inside. If you dried up and down inside, go left to right outside. If you get any streaks, you can tell which side of the glass needs a touch-up.
Knowing how to clean glass windows can help you prolong their life.
Get New Windows Installed by Sunshine Contracting
By maintaining your windows, you can make them last far beyond their life expectancy. However, there comes a time when new windows are the best option. Even if your windows are intact, you might wish for a new style. When you do want new windows installed in your home, choose Sunshine Contracting. For more than 20 years, we have been the go-to source for siding and window installation among homeowners in northern Virginia. Explore our window service pages or contact our representatives for more information.