Tom Shafer

Do your windows need an attitude adjustment?

August 26, 2015

Do all of your windows open and shut easily? Are they clean? Are the sill and weep holes free of debris? If you answered any of those with a "no," your windows might need an attitude adjustment. Here are a few things you can do to help keep your windows happy and healthy.

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Clean the sill. This means not only removing the dirt, but brushing the dead insects (one of a window's most prevalent opponents) away, cleaning out wasp mud, and making sure the paint or vinyl is smooth so it continues to repel and drain water. You can apply a spray furniture polish to the vinyl to keep things nice and slippery.

Make the glass sparkle.You can of course use commercial glass cleaners, but do not use anything abrasive that will scratch the glass. If you see areas where there's a film on the glass, or if you live somewhere with salt in the air and you get a residue left on the glass. A mild acid like vinegar will remove most of it.

Drain the weep holes. Weep holes are on most sliding windows as well as on many double and single hung windows. They're used to drain water away from the house and outside of the window. Bugs love to nest inside, and dirt easily turns into mud inside them. The clogged result could mean your windows leak and water enters the home. Use a pipe cleaner or a tooth brush to pull out debris. You can check the water flow by pouring water into the voids between the vinyl parts.

Polish the tracks. Most windows - be they wood or vinyl - have vertical tracks where the sash moves. If the tracks are dirty, then movement is severely hindered. Wash then with soapy water and make sure the dirt and dead bugs are all gone. Then dry the tracks off and use that furniture polish to make then smooth. DO NOT use silicone as a lubricant. It almost attracts dirt and debris because it so sticky.

Wipe off the springs. Balances in your window are used to counter-balance the sash and keep everything running smoothly. These usually do okay without intervention and even resist operation problems when dirty. However, if you have coil spring balances, you should give them a quick check. If you can locate them, spray alcohol on them to flush out old grease and soil and then spray with the furniture polish.

These few tips will breathe new life into your windows and give them that attitude adjustment. If they're old and dirty and broken beyond repair, then it might just be time for new ones.

About the Author

Tom Shafer has decades of experience in window sales, marketing and product development. He's worked closely with window design engineers in testing, design, and building code interpretation. Past employers include United Windows and Doors and Norandex, MI Windows. He currently works at a home improvement retailer.


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