Window Maintenance Solutions
Quality windows add beauty, security and insulation to a home, which is why window maintenance is so important for homeowners. Unfortunately, many new homeowners don’t know how to properly maintain their windows year after year. After all, the inexpensive, builder-grade vinyl windows that are installed on many newer-construction homes are marketed as virtually maintenance-free. Subsequently, these new property owners don’t cultivate the habit of taking care of their windows until problems occur. Experts agree that performing regular window maintenance is much better than waiting until windows develop serious repair issues.
Whether your windows are constructed of low-maintenance vinyl or premium-grade wood, the foundational elements of good window maintenance are:
- Regular Cleaning
- Periodic Inspection
Here are some tips that you can use to get a good start toward maintaining one of your home’s most prominent features.
Locating Reputable Window Cleaning Service Providers
When you don’t have the time, inclination, equipment or skill to clean your home’s windows yourself, you can always outsource the job to a qualified professional. Most homeowners find great window-cleaning service people through referrals from family and friends. You can also find local window cleaning companies through a simple online search. For referrals and online finds, it is best to check out the company’s reputation on consumer review websites such as Angie’s List, Yelp and the Better Business Bureau.
While Angie’s List is arguably the most popular consumer review site for trades associated with window maintenance, here are four alternative websites.
These sites often contain important information about prospective window maintenance companies. For example, you can find out about the company’s experience level, the existence of a business license and insurance and the availability of service guarantees and warranties.
Clean Your Own Windows Like a Pro
If you decide to clean your own windows, there are a few techniques and pieces of equipment that can help you to achieve professional results. You can start by gathering together a squeegee, a window scrubber, some dish soap, a bucket of water, and an assortment of lint-free and microfiber towels. You may need a window scraper to tackle baked-on bugs, dirt and other debris. If you do not have tilt-in windows that you can clean from inside your home, a ladder will also be needed to reach second-story windows.
Here are the main steps for cleaning windows:
- Soak the window scrubber in the dish water solution and run it over the windows’ glass panes. If you have wooden windows, make sure to get as little water on the wooden parts as possible.
- Take a dry, lint-free towel and run it across the top of the window to cut in a dry upper edge.
- Use the squeegee horizontally or vertically to remove the water from the window panes like a pro.
- Go over the windows with a microfiber cloth to ensure a streak-free finish.
A professional window cleaner will also clean window casings, and you should too.
Evaluating the Condition of Windows from Frames to Panes
Developing a habit of inspecting your windows is a great first step towards great looking windows that last. Scheduling an inspection of your property’s windows at the beginning of each season gives you a chance to identify and fix problem areas before your windows get hit with extreme weather conditions. For wood windows, you should check for any signs of rot or moisture damage. Well-worn vinyl windows may show signs of condensation between the panes. You may notice chipped or peeling paint on your metal-frame windows.
Consider a Professional Energy Audit
If your energy bills have been unusually high for no apparent reason, it may be a good time to invest in a professional energy audit. Poorly maintained windows are some of the main causes of high energy consumption during winter and summer months. Your windows may be of good quality, but a poor installation job results in ill-fitting windows and energy-robbing gaps around them. Energy can also be lost when your home is outfitted with windows that have low insulation value. A professional energy audit can help you to determine whether it is more cost effective for you to maintain your current windows with weather stripping and caulking or to replace them with higher-quality, insulated windows.
Sealing and Caulking
Nearly every homeowner is interested in saving money on their energy bills and in decreasing the wear on their homes’ heating and cooling systems. Subsequently, sealing up air gaps and weather proofing windows are some of the most popular window maintenance practices. Applying window and door trim caulking is a first line of defense against energy inefficiency. Your caulking project should cover the areas where your windows and trim meet as well as where trim and the home’s siding meet.
Installing or replacing the top and bottom layers of weather stripping on your windows is also a popular window maintenance project. The two most common types of weather stripping are made from foam and rubber. The adhesive-backed, foam weather stripping that is available in local hardware stores gives you more application flexibility. You can place the foam on your windows and not worry too much about your windows’ capability to open, close and lock with ease. For the more durable rubber weather stripping, you must make sure that windows can still open and close when the stripping is attached. The foam weather stripping should be replaced every few years, but the rubber weather stripping can last for many more years.
For any type of window maintenance project, you will achieve better results if you begin the effort with clean windows.
Knowing When Windows Must Be Replaced
Condensation Between Window Panes
While cracks in window panes can be repaired as a temporary fix, the permanent and most effective solution is often window replacement. Besides being the most prudent choice for windows with cracked or broken panes, replacement windows are also recommended for windows that have lost their insulating value due to broken seals.
Most insulated windows consist of two or three panes of glass that are connected together with seals. Air or insulating gas such as argon is often captured between the panes to help to eliminate the transfer of energy from and to the home. This results in lower energy bills and a more comfortable home.
When these insulated windows begin to look foggy or you see condensation within the panes, your windows’ seals are likely damaged. This is a good time to replace the window panes with updated, insulated ones.
Windows Fail to Keep Out Drafts and Outside Noise
If you feel a draft while you are sitting in your favorite chair that is near a window, you may need to replace the window. After trying lower-cost, weather-proofing solutions, you may decide that installing replacement windows is the most effective option. A premium replacement window can also insulate your home from noisy outdoor activity.
Conducting proper window maintenance has short and long-term benefits. For instance, a professional-grade cleaning can make windows sparkle for the enjoyment of the home’s residents, while periodic inspections and repairs can save you money on your energy bills. If you choose do-it-yourself window maintenance, be sure to exercise safety precautions when caring for windows on multi-story structures.
Also worth noting, homes that were built before 1978 may have windows that were painted with toxic, lead-based paint. In these cases, it may be better for you to call in a professional to make repairs and to diligently follow their instructions to keep hazardous dust from the project out of your living space.