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A Real Pane: How to Maintain Your Windows and Protect Your Home

A Real Pane: How to Maintain Your Windows and Protect Your Home

Windows help to keep you safe from the elements, warm your home, and give you awesome views of the outside world. Unfortunately, they also need to be maintained to function properly, and there's more to it than just washing. That's why we put together this rundown of essential house window maintenance tips, so your windows can keep your home safe and your views extraordinary. 

The best way to keep your windows functioning properly is to inspect them regularly. Look for leaks, sealant cracks, broken glass, and damaged frames. Also, check for any signs of water damage – discoloration around the windows, flooring, ceiling, etc. If you notice any warning signs of damage – water or otherwise – call a professional immediately to investigate.

Caulking helps to keep rain outside your home and limit energy loss! If you notice cracked sealant during your annual inspection, you have work to do. Clean the area of dirt, dust, or any debris. Then use a damp rag to wash the area and let it dry before caulking. (If you caulk over a wet window frame, mold or mildew can form, which can lead to even more problems.) Take special care of the bottom corner of windows and in-between windows, and don't let any debris stick to the caulk. It'll give the windows a not-so-fine finish. Not sure how to reach those high windows? Consider hiring a professional to help. Safety first!

Weather stripping is foam, vinyl sealing, or caulk that reinforces the inside of your windows and limits drafts. Replace your windows' weather stripping in late summer/early fall before the cooler temperatures roll in. You may also want to check it in late spring before you turn on your A/C. Don't forget to check your door sweep! That's one of the most notorious places for heat loss in a home. 

Weep holes are essentially the drains of your windows, and if they become blocked – by paint, caulk, leaves – then water won't be able to drain properly and may seep into your home. Check your weep hole when you complete your annual inspection. Open them with a screwdriver or toothpick, and clean any accumulation dirt, leaves, etc., with a cotton swab or a can of compressed air. 

While you're cleaning out your weep holes, take a look at your window tracks. These need to be free of debris, so clean it with a brush. If you find any dirt, scrub it away with soap and water. Keep your windows sliding smoothly by lubricating them. Depending upon your type of window, you may need to steer clear of oil-based lubricants, which can clog up your tracks with dirt and dust. 

During winter months especially, you might find that your windows sweat. This may be a good sign as your energy efficient windows are keeping the heat inside your home. Of course, you might not want condensation to form as you'll need to dry the window to stop mold from forming. Plus, condensation may be a sign of other problems in your home. Start investigating by running bathroom and kitchen fans. This will help to increase circulation in the home and possibly cut down on window condensation. 

Also, check your foundation to make sure ground water isn't seeping into your home and adding moisture to your air. If you see water in your basement, make sure your gutters are clean and your downspouts are sending water away from your home. If your gutters and downspouts are clogged or not properly draining, they may be directing water into yourbasement! If it's none of the above, consider investing in a humidifier to bring the humidity down inside your home and limit the amount of condensation on your windows.

A dirty screen can block not only your incredible views but also fresh air from coming inside your home. Stay on top of screen maintenance by either washing yours with a garden hose and a scrub brush – if it's been a while – or grab a lint roller for a quick clean. You may consider a vacuum, too, or even a pressure washer to do this job. However, a pressure washer should only be used on screens that are not attached to doors or windows, like a screened-in porch. (If you use it on your windows, you may crack them!)

What is the best way to clean off your windows? Many options will yield the same results – a streak-less, sparkling clean finish. Just remember to wipe off excess water. Also, squeeze out the sponge indoors, so you're not soaking your wood windows. (As we mentioned earlier – this can create mold!) Or consider using a spray bottle. Are your windows in bad shape? Install new ones as your next home improvement project. We have what you need to know in Top 8 Answers to the Questions You Never Knew to Ask About Home Window Replacement.