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Maintaining Your Replacement Windows | Window Replacement Maintenance Print Bookmark and Share

Being a homeowner is just like being a car owner – you have to check and maintain the structure and systems to ensure proper operation and extend longevity. On a car you might have to change the oil and rotate the tires, and in a home you might have to fix the roof and check the wiring.

Windows are just like any other structural element in your home – they can last a lifetime, but they do need maintenance. A quick visual check every year can help your windows continue to function at optimal performance – but an inspection might also reveal minor repair needs, or even alert you to the fact that they might need to be replaced.

If you want your windows to last as long as possible, you have to invest a little time and effort every year. It's a simple formula, much like changing your car's oil every 3,000 miles: The more attentive you are to your windows, the longer they will last and the better they will perform over time.

General Maintenance For Your Replacement Windows

Don't forget that your home can lose up to 25% of its energy through its windows, so making sure the windows are in tip-top shape is definitely something you want to do. Most window manufacturers include care and cleaning instructions for their products. Follow their instructions to get the most from your windows!

Here are few of the most basic maintenance issues to focus on:

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Clean surfaces

Take a clean, dry paintbrush and brush the dirt from the window tracks and sills at least once a year (especially in gliding windows, where dirt accumulates with gusto). Keep the track free of dead bugs, cobwebs, grime, and other detritus so that the window can continue to close and open easily, and form a tight seal when closed.

The glass, sash, and frame surfaces should also be kept clean. Avoid petroleum-based cleaners and solvents, however. Never use a razor blade, putty knife, abrasive pad, or other sharp (or scratch-causing) material, or anything that might dissolve or damage the finish. Be sure to read the manufacturer's instructions, and remember the golden rule when in doubt, don't.

Keep the drainage system functioning

Windows and doors typically use a 'weep' system, where tiny 'weepholes' in the frame help to keep water from collecting in the tracks. Be sure the weepholes are not obstructed, or you'll have a problem the next time it rains. They are often covered by baffles, so be careful when cleaning you don't want to damage the weephole covers.

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The weatherstripping in your windows is integral to their performance, and it must be inspected and cleaned regularly. Weatherstripping will deteriorate over time due to exposure, and when this happens it can be difficult to create an effective seal. Replacement weatherstripping can be found at a hardware store, or you can hire a professional specializing in window repair and replacement.

Hardware and accessories

Other window and door accessories such as sash locks, operators, and patio door rollers also need to be inspected regularly and replaced when not working properly. These components perform vital operational and security functions. Replace them promptly for your and your family's convenience and protection.

Pane and Hardware Repair/Replacement

Most manufacturers offer warranties on their windows, but even the best warranty will expire eventually. When that time comes and you find you need to replace or repair window and door components (or the windows and doors themselves), you'll find that hardware stores and home centers carry almost everything you might need: Sash locks, weatherstripping, screens, etc.

If you don't feel confident in your handyman skills, or just find it more convenient and reassuring to hire someone, countless window professionals in your area are capable of replacing the weatherstripping, repairing the sash, or replacing your windows.

This includes replacing the panes themselves. Today, most windows are outfitted with dual-pane insulating glass, which is more energy efficient. These panes, or lites, are usually divided by a spacer frame and sealed together. Over time, however, the seal may degrade, allowing the glass to fog. When this happens, the whole insulating glass unit must be replaced. An experienced DIYer can do this him or herself, but it isn't easy or advisable. Replacement by a qualified glazier is recommended.

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Homeowners sometimes notice and become concerned about condensation on their windows. Condensation occurs when the humid air near a glass surface becomes cool too rapidly. Water forms because the cool air is not able to hold as much water vapor as warm air.

Of course, condensation is natural and normal, even on your windows. The occasional appearance shouldn't cause any alarm. However, if you notice that condensation consistently forms on your windows, it indicates that there is an elevated humidity level in the home.

Frequent condensation on window panes is a reliable indicator of excess humidity, and your window glass is really just the most visible sign. Condensation forms on the coldest location on a wall, and that is usually a window. However, there are probably many other places where condensation might be forming, such as a mirror or a metal surface.

Why the excess humidity? Many everyday activities might be responsible. Inevitably your kitchen is a common culprit. You've probably noticed condensation on your kitchen windows while you were boiling water. Breathing, taking showers, washing dishes, and doing laundry are all activities that can raise the water vapor levels and contribute to your home's humidity levels.

You can't stop breathing, obviously, and not showering or doing laundry aren't good options, either. Proper ventilation is therefore essential. High humidity levels in a home can be destructive. Excess humidity can cause wallpaper and paint to peel. More importantly, it can contribute to mold and mildew growth.

Consistent condensation may also signal that your windows do not have an effective seal, and that there is too much air flow. Consider replacing your windows with more modern, energy efficient windows with tighter seals and special glass that reduces energy transference.

Other options that will help reduce condensation in a home include:

  • Using exhaust fans in your kitchen, bathroom, and laundry room
  • Turn off humidifiers
  • Make sure your gas burners and clothes dryers, etc., vent outside
  • Open fireplace dampers so that moisture-laden air can escape
  • Make sure venting louvers in your attic, basement, and crawl spaces are open
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