Tips on Maintaining Your Home’s Windows

by Matt Solis

Maintaining the windows in your home is relatively easy and can save you money on future heating, cooling and repair work. Depending on the type of window you have, consider the following tips:

Maintaining metal or vinyl frame windows

  • Start with a visual inspection of the window and frames. Rubber seals hold the glass in place, and if the seals deteriorate over time, you’ll have an air or water leak. To replace the rubber, remove the window sash and take it to a glass repair shop. You may need to call a professional to remove the window.
  • Check for cracked or broken glass, which should also be replaced by glass shop professionals.
  • If you have double- or triple-pane windows, look for moisture between the glass panes, which indicates the seal between the panes has failed. The space between the panes is usually filled with gas to help provide insulation; if the seal is broken, the insulation value of the window goes down.
  • Check around the window casing where it meets the wall and fill any gaps with a paintable latex caulk.
  • If you have weather stripping, make sure it’s in good condition. (You can usually find it seated in a groove in the window frame; it’s easy to replace.) Remove a short section from the window and take it to a repair shop to find the right replacement.

Maintaining aluminum frame windows

  • Check the windows for cracked or broken glass. Rubber seals hold them in place and usually require specialized equipment to reinstall properly. Remove the glass pane (with its individual frame) from the window unit and take it to a repair shop.
  • Look for broken frame corners on the individual panes. Take any windows with this problem to a repair shop.
  • Ensure the frame is well-seated and sealed with a bead of caulk against the window casing. Don’t seal the factory-provided weep holes near the bottom of the window frame—these allow for drainage of any moisture that accumulates inside the framework.

Maintaining wood frame windows

  • Start with a visual inspection of the window panes and glazing (the putty that holds the glass in place). Cracked panes and missing glaze allow drafts, which raise heating and cooling bills.
  • Look over the paint. If it’s badly chipped or chalky to the touch, you’ll need to paint the exterior woodwork. A poor paint job allows moisture to penetrate the wood, causing rot and swelling.
  • Inspect where the window casing meets the wall. Use a high-quality paintable latex caulk to fill any gaps or cracks between the window frame and the siding or brick.
  • Make sure the windows seal tightly when closed. If they’re loose, you may need to add weather stripping around the window channels.

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