DIY HOME REPAIR TIPS FOR REPAIRING SIMPLE WINDOW DAMAGE
Spring is here. And in between the rainy days, homeowners are taking the opportunity to open up their windows to get some fresh air flowing through their homes.
Cranking open windows after months and months of being sealed up all winter can reveal a lot of common damages that occur to windows throughout the year.
More often than not, the damage is minimal and can be fixed using some of these do-it-yourself window repair tips.
PATCHING UP ROTTEN WINDOW SILLS
Once windows have absorbed any amount of moisture, the wood can start to rot and decay. The obvious course of action here is to replace the window. However, that’s not always necessary.
If only small portions of the window have been affected, you can simply remove the rotten portions and replace them with patches, saving you a lot of time and money. Simply cut away the rotted wood and use the trimmed portion as a stencil for the replacement wood to guarantee a proper fit.
DISLODGING STUCK WINDOWS
Wooden windows can swell up when they come into contact with water over a prolonged period of time, which can lead to them getting stuck in the surrounding casement. Luckily, this is a common problem with a simple solution.
First, try rubbing candle wax along the stuck portions of your window. The wax will act as a lubricant to help “grease” your window, making it easier to open.
If that doesn’t work, you can give your window a little trim. Trimming away some of the excess swelled wood can help dislodge your window and improve the overall fit of the window.
PROBLEMS WITH VINYL
Vinyl windows come with their own set of damages. They also come with their own set of DIY repair tips. First off, keeping vinyl windows clean can help you avoid many issues. By simply wiping down your vinyl windows with the proper cleaning materials at least once a week you’re already one step ahead.
Other damage, like a broken catch, can occur no matter how clean your windows are. To repair a broken catch, unscrew the cover and replace the catch.
CRACKED AND BROKEN GLASS
Unfortunately, you will need to replace cracked or broken window panes. But, in the meantime, you can keep your home safe and the elements out with these tips.
Quick Fixes for Cracked Glass
Clean the surface before applying a glass filler. For small cracks, apply clear nail polish or shellac to fill in the crack. You will need to apply several layers until the filler is flush with the window. And you’ll need to wait for each coat to dry before applying the next.
For larger cracks, use super glue to fill the cracks. This method will also require several layers and waiting for each layer to dry.
For a quick fix in dry, warmer weather, you can apply masking tape or clear packing tape on each side of the crack. Keep in mind that tape won’t stick to the glass in cold weather. And in hot weather, the tape might melt.
WINDOW HARDWARE THAT DOESN’T WORK
If your window hardware is stuck or not operating smoothly, clean it with mild soap and water and lubricate it. For rotary drive hardware, use lithium grease, automotive grease, or petroleum jelly as a lubricant. And for hinges and rollers, use a silicone-based lubricant.
If, after cleaning and lubricating, your window hardware still doesn’t work well, then consider upgrading your windows.
ADDRESSING WATER DAMAGE
Unfortunately, water damage comes in many forms for windows. High humidity, condensation, and rainwater are all culprits that can damage window sills, frames, and drywall, especially on poorly sealed windows.
If your windows and the surrounding drywall are showing signs of water damage, follow these steps to address the damage before it worsens.
Remove the Water-Damaged Materials
Depending on the extent of the water damage, you may be able to make repairs, such as sanding down water-damaged wood. But if the damage is too severe, especially with drywall, you will need to replace the materials.
You can remove damaged drywall and patch it up with a patching kit or new drywall. Keep an eye out for damage to the exterior of your house as well. Inspect the exterior surface of your home around the window for signs of water damage and make the necessary repairs.
Re-Seal the Windows
Since the water damage was likely caused by an improper seal on your window that allowed water to get in, you will need to re-seal your windows. Sometimes, the entire window will need to be replaced. But in many cases, replacing the caulking will do the trick.
QUICK REPAIRS FOR FRAMES
Keeping your window frames and tracks clean will help resolve some operational issues with your windows.
For rotted wood frames, use a chisel to remove the rotted wood and drill a few ¼-inch holes in the frame. Soak the damaged area with liquid epoxy consolidant. Wait five minutes and reapply until the wood no longer soaks up the consolidant.
Mix a batch of epoxy filler according to the label’s instructions and mold it to repair the frame. Use a putty knife or flat paint stick to pack and shape the repair. Once dry, sand until smooth and flat.
Apply exterior-grade vinyl patching to fill any voids and holes. Allow to dry and then sand before repainting.
Whether old or damaged, here are tips to properly replace caulking around your windows.
Remove Old Caulk
Caulk hardens with age, eventually separating from the surface and allowing moisture to buildup underneath. So be sure to remove old caulk properly with a putty knife or sharp tool.
For extra-hard caulk that is difficult to remove, use a caulk remover gel. After applying the gel, allow it to sit for two to three hours. Once the old caulk is loose, you can scrape it off.
Before applying new caulk, make sure to clean the surface with rubbing alcohol or a household cleaner. A clean, dry surface will ensure the caulk adheres properly and provides a good seal for your windows.
Use the Right Caulk
When it comes to sealing your windows, only use high-quality caulk made from silicone or polyurethane. Caulk that is 100% silicone or a combination of silicone and latex will be flexible, waterproof, and long-lasting (about 20 years or so). The only downsides to silicone caulk are that you cannot paint over it and it has a strong odor when drying.
If you want to paint over the caulk, consider using a polyurethane caulk. Heavy-duty polyurethane spray foams expand as they dry and are popular for use as caulking on exterior windows. Polyurethane caulk also has a lifespan of 10 to 20 years.
Use the Right Applicator
To dispense your caulking evenly, use a good quality caulking gun with a comfortable grip and a smooth plunger rod. Caulking guns with ratcheting plungers apply caulk unevenly and result in a messy appearance.
Apply the Caulk Properly
When you are ready to apply the caulk to your windows, cut the nozzle of the caulk cartridge to your preferred bead size. Then pierce the inside seal and place the cartridge in the caulking gun.
When sealing cracks, hold the gun at a 45-degree angle, and apply the caulk with even, consistent pressure. For cracks that are larger than a ½ inch wide or a ½ inch deep, fill the gap with a small piece of foam rope known as a backer rod before applying the caulk to the gap.
Lastly, smooth out the caulk by running your finger along the bead so it fills any gaps and creates a clean, professional finish. To make sure your skin doesn’t grab the caulk, dip your finger in soapy water first or use an ice cube.
And to ensure that you sealed your windows well, use the flame test to check for drafts.
WHAT TO DO WHILE YOU WAIT FOR PROFESSIONAL REPAIRS
Other damages require a little more skill to repair properly. Trying to repair severe window damages on your own can make the problem worse, is more time consuming, and can put your safety at risk. In cases like these, it’s always wise to contact a window repair professional instead.
Window repair professionals can get your windows fixed quickly—and safely—so you can finally throw them open to let some of the fresh, springtime air into your home this season.
While you’re waiting for professional repairs, follow these tips for keeping your windows and your home safe:
- Take photos of the damage if you are filing a home insurance claim;
- Wear protective gloves and eyewear while removing any broken glass;
- Cover the window with a thick, heavy-duty, two-ply plastic garbage bag or tarp and tape it securely in the empty frame; or,
- Board up the window with plywood for a secure temporary barrier while waiting for the pros to arrive.
While these window fixes work for many common window problems, sometimes there are things you can’t fix on your own, and a window replacement might be necessary.
So to keep your home safe, secure, comfortable, and energy-efficient year-round, make sure your windows are in top shape and don’t be afraid to call in the pros to repair the damage.