As we’ve said before in this blog, your home is the biggest investment you will probably ever make in your lifetime. The better care you give your investment, the better return you will have on it when it comes time to sell it. Sure, you may not be planning to sell your home any time soon, but keeping it in the best condition possible preserves your investment and increases your chances of getting the best return possible.
Making regular repairs and maintenance jobs can also help stave off those major projects that always seem to crop up at the most inopportune time. You might find that you need a new roof unexpectedly or that you have a serious crack in your foundation. Maybe a few of your kitchen appliances need to be replaced all at once — right when you return home from a vacation. Now you can never fully prevent these issues from happening to your home, but if you’re keeping up with gutter cleanings, pressure washing and other chores, then you will probably spot problems ahead of time and be better prepared to confront them — or even prevent the worst of the potential damage.
While cleaning out your gutters and replacing a leaky roof are important maintenance tasks, one you shouldn’t be overlooking is good window care. Your windows may look strong and sturdy, and while they don’t always require attention every day, you should be checking up on them often and making repairs when needed.
Windows can be expensive to replace, but if you’re diligent about taking care of them, you’ll find that they last far longer than expected, and they’ll look brand new for longer.
Here’s our essential guide to proper window maintenance for your home.
Windows can withstand a lot, and they don’t need to be cleaned as often as floors, showers or other areas around your home. If you don’t have many trees around your windows, then you may need to clean them only once or twice a month assuming nothing else makes them obviously dirty.
Start cleaning your windows with a damp cloth, which should be used around the non-glass areas of the window. This will pick up dirt and other debris that makes its way into your home. Avoid using too much water, which can get trapped in the cracks and crevices of your window. If left for too long, it may start to rot. The last thing you want is mold growing in or around your windows, so use a minimum amount of water on your rag.
For aluminum and vinyl-framed windows, you can get rid of pesky stains with some mild detergent. Scrub the stain using a soft scrubbing brush. That way, you won’t scratch your window.
When it comes to cleaning the glass, you can use any preferred glass cleaner you like. You can even make your own glass cleaner using recipes online if you prefer. When wiping windows down, use either paper towel or newspapers to get rid of streaks. People swear by both types of paper so use what works for you.
Finally, do a once-over of the area around your window as well as the wall. Look for any dirt building up in different spots and get rid of it right away. When too much dirt builds up, it can stop your window from functioning correctly, making it difficult to open them.
Inspecting your windows
You look outside your windows hundreds of times a day, but how often do you mean look — really look — at your windows? Have you checked if there’s a dramatic change in temperature near your windows? Can you feel a breeze or a draft? When was the last time you tried to open all of the windows in your home?
Every season or so, you should take a half hour (or more depending on how large your home is) and inspect your windows. This is the best way to check for problems and fix them before they become costly endeavors that require a professional to fix. When you spot a minor problem, chances are you can do the repair yourself, and you can gauge how long it will be before you’ll need to replace a window that seems to have some problems.
So what do you look for when inspecting your windows? Here’s our complete checklist:
- Window sash and frame: The sash of your window is the top part of the section holding the fitted glass. Most windows have their locks here. The frame wraps around the glass. Moisture can get into the sash and frame, causing them to rot, so look out for moisture here.
- Moisture: After a rain or snowfall, take a look at your double- or triple-paned windows and look for moisture. If you see any, it means a seal on your window has broken, and moisture is getting inside. A broken seal will also let warm or cool air in or out, so you may end up paying higher energy bills because your windows are letting all the air out.
- Warped panes and frames: When you look at your window, does it look a but curvy to you? Almost as if someone tried to bend it a little bit? This is common with windows that face direct sunlight. The heat from the sun, which is especially hot in Houston, can warp the frames, which can cause leaks and cracked seals. Warmed panes and frames will need to be replaced.
- Wall gaps: In some cases, gaps can occur between the window and the wall, making it appear that the window was the wrong size for the wall. This can also let air and moisture into your home, so if you notice space building between your windows and walls, repair it quickly. You can use a latex caulk to fill in the gaps.
- Weather stripping: Some people prefer the added protection of window stripping, which stops air in your home from escaping, but it doesn’t last forever. After some time, it will need to be replaced. You can do this yourself, or you can hire a professional to do it for you.
- Outside check: Don’t forget to do an outdoor check as well. Some problems you might not be able to see from the inside. There might be other holes or rotting frames that can only be seen from the outside.
If you keep up with regular window cleanings and maintenance, then you should be able to make your windows last longer. You will also be less surprised when a window needs a repair or to be replaced altogether.
When to hire a professional window cleaner
Cleaning windows indoors is a simple enough task. Most homes need their windows cleaned at least once a month — sometimes less depending on the window’s location. But what about the glass that’s on the exterior side of your window?
There’s nothing more frustrating that trying to look out a window that is covered in dirt. Not only does it block a view, but it also makes the outside of your home look dirty and dark. Over time, that dirt and grime can slip in through the cracks around your windows and get into your home. When you see dirt start to pile up and obstruct a view out of your window, then it’s time to call in a professional window cleaner.
Professional window cleaners handle the difficult task of getting to those hard-to-reach windows on the outside of your home, and they get them looking like new again. You won’t have to mess with ladders and bulky equipment. Your professional window cleaners will do it all for you. When using a soft wash, as many do, the chemicals within the soft wash not only clean the windows, but they also break down any mold or mildew living around the window. Mold and mildew can break down seals and slip into homes, so a soft wash will get rid of them and keep your window looking good.
Regular window cleanings have also been known to keep pests away. Your windows present warm, cozy environments that bees and especially wasps would love to move into. When you’ve got a professional window cleaner on the job, he or she will notice any potential holes or cracks big enough for pests right away and help you cover them up.
Having a professional window cleaner on the job is like having an extra set of eyes on your windows. While you may do your own inspections, there may be some signs of trouble that you wouldn’t know to look for, but your professional certainly does. As a professional, he or she has likely see just about every window problem in the book. Your cleaner will let you know when a problem has the potential to become serious.
When to replace a window
All good things must come to an end, and even if you’ve taken good care of your windows and made them last a little longer, you will still need to replace them eventually. But how do you know when it’s time to call in a professional and get your windows replaced? We have a few tips:
- Repairs won’t cut it any more: A cracked or broken window can’t always be repaired. Sometimes it’s better to replace it and move on. If you find a repair isn’t holding up even a few days after you do it, it’s probably time to replace the window. If you can’t open a window or it won’t stay open, it’s also probably time to replace it.
- Your energy bill is looking high: You probably have a good idea of what your monthly energy bill looks like. When your bill goes up, you notice it right away. When your bill looks higher than usual, it’s time to start checking your windows to see if you feel a draft. When you find the leaky window, get it replaced right away.
- Warped beyond repair: When a window frame looks suddenly crooked, it usually means that the sun has damaged it beyond repair. Moisture, pests and air may be able to enter and edit without issue. With minor warping, you may be able to do a temporary repair, but a full replacement should be done.
- The windows are old: With good care and maintenance, windows should last about 20 years or so. If you live in an older home and you know the windows haven’t been replaced in a long time, it may be better to make the repair sooner rather than later. You can add your own touch and ensure your windows are energy efficient.
- Storms damage a window: In Houston, we’re no stranger to hurricanes and humidity, and they can take a heavy toll on windows. If you’ve had a window damaged by a recent store, get it replaced with something quick. Professionals who install windows can help you choose a window type that will stand up to harsh weather conditions.
If you live for more than a decade in your home, chances are you will have to replace a few windows sooner rather than later. It’s an inevitable fact that all homeowners live with because like any other part of the home, windows can wear out.
But as we said earlier, your home is an investment you want to protect. If you take good care of your windows and clean them often, then you may prolong their lifespans. If you live in your home for three or more decades, you may only need to replace your windows once or twice throughout your years of living there. That can save you thousands of dollars, and it takes very little effort on your part. All you need to do is carve out a little time each season to inspect your windows.
Share with us: How do you keep your home’s windows looking in tip top shape? We want to know your best tips and tricks so leave us a comment below.