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How-to Inspect Your Window Sash

December 20th, 2016 by

Large Window Brick Building

Well-functioning windows are an important element in your home; likely, you notice how well your windows are performing more in the colder months. Maybe a windy, cold Wisconsin winter night has got you thinking “How exactly do I go about maintaining these things?” At LeafGuard of Southeast Wisconsin, we wish that your windows could be maintenance-free, like our LeafGuard gutters, but, sadly, that’s just not the case. Keep an eye out for warning signs of window malfunction, and act fast! Although not every problem can be repaired, we hope that untimely replacement windows are not in your future.

Step-by-Step Inspection

1. Frame

The first thing to check on your window is the wood frame. Although wood frames are beautiful, they have a shelf life. Due to the elements, wood frames can become worn and rotted. Compromised wood can cause major air leaks, and you will feel it in your home and your bank account. If you notice peeling paint on your frame, that could be an indication of rot; however, if your wood appears fine–there’s no visible rotting–then you can take a flathead screwdriver and press into the wood. check the frames, sills, or muntins (the dividers) with your screwdriver. If it leaves a mark, you have rot.

wooden window sash

Image via energy.gov

2. Panes

Next, you should check the pane. This is the easiest part of the inspection because all you need to do is check for cracks in the glass. If you have single-pane glass in your windows, a crack isn’t the end of the world; however, if you have insulated, double-paned glass and you notice a crack, you will likely need to budget for a replacement. More on that later.

3. Seals

A really important thing to do in the winter is to check your window seals. Most new windows come equipped with weatherstripping, but after time they get worn out and need to be replaced. Check the foam sealing on the jambs (the sides of the window sash), and the weatherstripping where the window meets the seal. If any of this weatherstripping is loose or looks brittle, then you need to remove it and replace.

Applying weatherstripping

Image via bobvila.com

4. Sash Function
This is also one of the easier checks to perform on your window. Check how easily your window slides open or closed, check the locks, and any other movable function your window is meant to perform. Any stickiness or malfunction may need a closer look.

5. Repair or Replace?
So you’ve noticed that your window has an issue. That does not always mean that your window needs to be replaced entirely. In fact, more often than not, your window can be repaired for a fraction of the cost of a replacement window. Additionally, if you home has vintage charm and original windows, replacing those windows can actually lower the value of your home. Always lean towards repair before you jump into purchasing replacement windows.

6. Wood Rot:
Window frames with a small amount of wood rot should simply be repaired–you can use epoxy to patch rotten spots. But, If you happen to have a lot of wood rot (for example, 75% of your window frame is rotten), you should replace your windows.

7. Broken Glass:
If you have relatively inexpensive vinyl windows, just go ahead and replace the window. It’ll be cheaper than purchasing a replacement pane and paying for installation. However, if you have custom or original windows, then pay the extra to repair.

8. Broken Seal:
If your seal is broken (you notice condensation between panes), repair. A replacement sash as opposed to a replacement window is your best option.

9. Windows that “just don’t work”:
Most of the time a faulty window can be repaired. A decent handyman should be able to repair a window that isn’t functioning up to par.

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