When they’re functioning correctly, windows are a wonderful asset to any home. They provide natural light and allow us to enjoy outdoor views. They even allow us to enjoy a breeze when the weather outside is nice. However, windows can experience problems that make them less functional. Most of these problems are usually windows being stuck or broken in some way.
How to Fix Common Window Problems
We’re going to look at eight common home window problems you may experience and the best solutions for these problems. In some cases, there are easy fixes, while in others, you may have to replace your faulty windows with new ones. As you look through our guide, if you encounter window terms you’re unfamiliar with, consult our post defining 10 parts of a window you should know.
If you try to open your window and notice it’s not budging, look to see if paint is the culprit. If you see paint in the crevices which should be left open for the sash to move, then you’re dealing with a window that has been painted shut. The best way to avoid this problem is to paint windows carefully and make sure you open them while the paint is drying to break any potential seals that are forming.
However, if it’s too late for prevention, you can fix the issue with a few simple tools. First, grab a tool you can use to break the seal of the paint around the window. You’ll find tools at the hardware store that are made specifically for this task, but you can also use a putty knife if you already have one.
- Run the putty knife or a similar tool all around the window sash to break the paint seal.
- Now see if the sash will move or if it is still stuck. If it’s mobile, you’ve fixed the problem. If the window is still stuck, you’ll need to pry open the window stop from the side jamb. Use a hammer to pull out the nails.
- After you’ve removed one stop, try again to lift the sash. If it’s still stuck, remove the opposite stop as well.
- With the stops removed, you can carefully remove the sash from the window frame.
- Now you can sand off the paint that has been causing problems. Prime and paint the window the right way before putting the sash back in place.
Windows should keep your home well-insulated, so if you’re feeling a draft coming from one of your windows
, there is a problem. There are a few ways you can attempt to fix the problem, including:
- Caulking: If your window isn’t properly sealed, applying caulk may help. Make sure the window is clean before you start. Then, using an indoor latex caulk, caulk around the window trim, over mitered joints and between the trim and frame. Look for any other gaps that may be causing the draft and be sure to caulk those as well.
- Installing weatherstripping: Weatherstripping is intended to create a solid seal around your window, so if your window doesn’t currently have any weatherstripping or it is damaged, you should install new weatherstripping. You can find weatherstripping at your local hardware store and it is fairly easy to install.
- Upgrading windows: In some cases, when you’re feeling a draft, the best course of action is to replace your old windows. New windows are made to be more energy-efficient. When your home is well-sealed, your heating and cooling systems won’t have to work as hard, so you’ll likely see a substantial difference in your energy bill.
- Condensation: If you see moisture in between the window panes, then the real problem is that your window has lost the insulating gas that forms a seal against the outside. If this is the case, you’ll likely need to replace your windows. A window that has lost its seal will compromise your home’s insulation, making it harder for your heating and cooling systems to do their jobs.
- Improper flashing: Flashing is a weather-resistant material that is installed around a window, underneath the siding on the outside of your house. If there is a problem with the flashing around your window, then water could get in around the window. You may be able to add caulk where the flashing is located to plug up the leak, but it’s better to have a professional take a look and determine the best way to fix the issue.
- Failed window sealant: In addition to flashing, windows should be protected around the perimeter by caulk. If there are any places where the caulk has cracked or pulled away, it could let water in around the window. If this is the source of the leak, re-caulking should fix it. After you re-caulk, check the window closely to see if it still leaks after a rainstorm.
Condensation was mentioned as a leakage problem above, but again, condensation between window panes is an entirely different issue. If your window looks foggy in between the panes of glass, then you have a condensation issue
. This condensation can freeze in the winter, leaving an icy layer in the middle of your window. Most people notice condensation issues because of a foggy appearance on their windows, and you may be able to clean out the condensation through remedies like running a dehumidifier or fan.
However, this doesn’t solve the real issue that condensation in a window reveals — the loss of insulating gas. Windows with more than one pane contain a gas, like argon, to serve as a barrier against the outside air. When your window isn’t properly sealed, it allows outdoor temperatures to have a greater effect on the inside of your home. This leads to higher heating and cooling costs. So, how can you fix the problem?
You either need to remove the window and have a professional clean it out and attempt to reseal it or, more simply, replace it. Opt for an especially energy-efficient window that will insulate your home more effectively than your previous window did, even before it lost its insulating gas. Even when you’re not dealing with a faulty window, heat gain and heat loss through windows typically accounts for 25%–30% of home heating and cooling energy use
Cracked, Warped, or Rotted Wood
If you have wood windows, then you may experience issues with cracks, warping or rotting in your window frames. This is why many homeowners prefer windows made of more weather-resistant materials, like vinyl. One of the advantages of vinyl windows is that you will never have to deal with rot. Problems with wood windows typically come from moisture and sun exposure. Termites can also cause wood to deteriorate. So, how can you fix damaged wood windows?
One of the best solutions is to prevent the issue from occurring in the first place. Every few years, apply a new coat of paint to help protect the wood from the elements. You may need to sand off old paint in some cases to keep from having too much of a paint buildup. Protecting wood from the elements is your best defense against deterioration.
If you’re already dealing with some damage, but it isn’t severe, you can use epoxy wood filler to fill cracks and edges to protect them from further damage. If parts of your window are severely cracked, warped or rotted, however, you may need to replace the part. For example, you may need to install a new sill. In some cases, you may need to replace the whole window. Consult a window technician for guidance on whether to repair or replace your damaged wood window.
If your window isn’t closing, it can compromise your home’s comfort and security. This problem can arise for several reasons
. One is the issue of paint discussed earlier in this article. Other reasons a window may be stuck open include: dirty tracks, broken pulleys, a lack of lubrication, loose fasteners, humidity, and off-center installation. Let’s look at a few ways you can try to fix a window that won’t close:
- Clean the track: If the window track is dirty, this may be the source of the problem. Try cleaning the track using a brush and a rag. A vacuum can also help you remove debris. Now try closing the window and see if you’ve fixed the problem.
- Lubricate the track: Another solution to try if your window is getting stuck in its track is to lubricate the track. You can use beeswax or candle wax to do this, or for composite windows, try silicone spray. Once you’ve lubricated the track, try closing the window.
- Tighten the fasteners: If a fastener on the window appears to be loose, try tightening it. If you’re not having success, the problem may be a stripped fastening hole. You can fix this problem by using wood filler to fill the hole before replacing the fastener.
- Straighten the window: If the window is off-center, try to re-position it by pushing down on the high side and pulling up on the low side. This may or may not fix the problem, depending on whether there is another underlying issue causing the window to hang crookedly.
Won’t Stay Open
If you’re trying to raise your windows to enjoy a breeze and the window keeps closing, then there’s something wrong with the window. One common cause of this problem is that the balances, which are hidden components on single and double-hung windows, are disconnected from the sash. If this is the problem, the solution is to reconnect the balance to the sash.
Another possible issue is that the balances are connected to the sash, but they’re not functioning as they should. If you’re dealing with broken balances, you’ll need to replace them to fix the issue. The right way to replace your window balances
depends on whether you have spiral window balances or side-load channel balances.
If you have double-hung windows that won’t stay open, the issue may be a broken or untied sash cord. The weight placed on this cord can compromise it over time. To get to the sash cord to fix the issue, you’ll need to remove the lower sash on the window. For this reason, some homeowners opt for a simpler solution of installing composite track inserts on both sides of the sashes. Of course, another solution — especially if your windows are old or otherwise damaged — is to replace them.
Won’t Open At All
This isn’t just a nuisance — it can be a safety hazard, as well. Even if it’s too cold or hot outside for you to want your windows open, you should always have the option available in case of a fire or other emergency. One of the most common causes for a stuck window is being painted over, as mentioned earlier.
To loosen a window that doesn’t want to open, run a utility knife around any joints around the sash. If there is any paint or debris causing one of these joints to stick, this should help to remedy the problem. Now gently try to open the window. If you still can’t get the window to open, you may need to remove the upper and lower sashes. Look for any issues that may be prohibiting the window from opening and try to fix the issue before replacing the sashes.
Whatever the issue happens to be, once you’ve gotten the window to open, lubricate the track the sash travels along to make opening and closing it easier. You can use beeswax or candle wax as lubrication. Of course, if you can’t get the window to open after trying DIY solutions, contact a professional to diagnose the problem and potentially replace the window if necessary.
Replacement Windows From Homespire For Life
When you want to install windows in your home that look great and work to keep your home secure and well-insulated, you can trust Homespire to make that possible. Browse through our products and contact Homespire today to learn more about how we can help you replace your old windows with strong, beautiful windows that enhance the ambiance of your home.