When you buy a home or new windows, maintenance probably isn't the first thing on your mind. You might dress them up with window treatments or clean the glass once in a while to keep them free of smudges and spots.
Regular maintenance is essential for keeping your windows efficient, operating smoothly and looking as beautiful as the day they were installed. It also helps ensure that your windows last as long as possible, so you get the most out of your investment.
How To Maintain Windows
Performing regular window maintenance helps ensure they function properly. Something small, like a stuck sash or chipped paint, can become a bigger problem if ignored. By following these home window maintenance tips, you can prevent that from happening.
1. Inspect your windows annually.
An annual home check-up is a crucial part of preventative home maintenance. Every year, examine your windows closely to identify any imperfections. Check your windows for leaks, cracks in the paint or material, sealant cracks or breaks and problems with sliding sashes or turning window cranks.
Be sure to look out for leaks and improper drainage, especially above or around vents and sprinkler systems that may subject your windows to prolonged water exposure. It’s also a good idea to look for these issues after a big storm — especially if you think your windows have suffered hail damage.
2. Pay close attention to the caulking around windows.
The sealant or caulking around your windows helps ensure that they are watertight. If any part of the window sealant is cracked, broken or completely missing, it needs to be fixed immediately. A cracked window sealant can let in water. Even minor leaks can cause permanent damage. Inspect the window caulking, especially in the places where sealant problems are most common: the bottom corners of windows and in between windows.
3. Take note of imperfections in the wood finish.
Wood windows provide a number of benefits, but they do require more maintenance than vinyl and fiberglass windows. The interior wood finish or paint does not just keep the windows looking nice — it also protects them from damage from the elements. Exteriors are commonly finished with aluminum cladding, which helps provide protection from the elements. Carefully inspect both the interior and exterior finish for corrosion, peeling and cracking.
Fiberglass windows typically don’t require a lot of maintenance. The bend, dent and break-resistant frames is finished with a durable powder-coat finish that will never need to be painted or refinished. While these fiberglass frames are strong and durable, it’s still important to check them annually for imperfections. Look for scratches or other visible signs of damage and make note.
Vinyl window maintenance is typically minimal. Our fade-resistant vinyl formula is performance tested for excellent weathering, durability and color retention—which means no more painting or refinishing. To perform annual maintenance, check the frames for any visible damage, such as dents, and make a note.
If you need to perform window maintenance, contact a Pella window professional for advice.
4. Clean and lubricate the window tracks.
Dirt and debris can build up in your window tracks and make your window prone to getting stuck. Regularly clearing away the dirt and debris from the window tracks can prevent that. Clean the tracks with a dry brush and vacuum to keep your windows opening and closing smoothly. Any grime that can’t be cleared away with a brush can be cleaned up with plain old soap and water.
Lubrication can also help ensure the smooth operation of your windows. Apply some oil-free lubricant to the weatherstripping. Teflon® Dry Lubricant or Gulf Wax® works well, and it's available at most home improvement stores. Avoid using an oil-based lubricant. They actually attract dust and grime, which can clog up the window tracks and make it more difficult to open and close.
5. Check the window fit.
The longer you’ve had your windows, the more likely the fit has changed since installation day. Exposure to the elements, changing temperatures through the seasons and general wear and tear from everyday usage can cause subtle changes to the size and shape of your windows and window frames. Homes settle over the years too, which can cause similar problems to window openings that were once an ideal fit.
A bad fit leads to poor performance. Your windows will be less energy efficient and may allow air and water to get in. Look over every part of the window to check that they still fit properly. If your windows don’t open or close all the way, won’t lock completely or have moisture somewhere, there may be a problem with window fit.
6. If you live near the ocean, take extra precautions.
Salt spray is extremely corrosive to many materials, including wood, fiberglass and vinyl windows. If you live near the ocean, you’re going to see more wear and tear, so you need to inspect your windows more frequently than once a year.
In addition to the annual maintenance checks for each window material, you should also clean your windows at least four times a year to remove the corrosive salt. Use a mild detergent and water to clean away salt build-up at least four times a year.
When To Call for Pella Window Maintenance
Every homeowner should clean and lubricate their windows to extend the life of the product. These window care basics are pretty easy to do yourself.
If there is damage to the caulking around your windows, the wood needs to be refinished or any part of the window needs to be repaired, you should contact a professional for window maintenance. Trying to execute the repair yourself could result in further damage to your windows.
Your local Pella window expert can help you perform simple window maintenance or take a closer look at any issues that require repair. They have the expertise to identify window damage and give you professional advice on whether your window can be repaired or should instead be replaced.