Window How-To

Keeping your windows in good working order, repairing minor problems, and cleaning windows are all part of having an energy-efficient, draft-resistant shell for your home. And, of course, well-maintained windows help the overall appearance of your home.

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Window repair

For windows stuck shut:

  • If painted shut, take a sharp utility knife and run it carefully along the painted seams between sash and frame. Widen the seams by drawing a flathead screwdriver down them. Check both inside and outside the window for painted seams.
  • If that doesn't work, check for mechanical failure. On single- or double-hung windows, inspect for visibly damaged cords. If they're fine, internal springs, balances or pulleys may be worn out. Accessing them involves gently prying out trim pieces surrounding the movable window sash. With those wooden stops removed, remove the window sash. Tip out the bottom of any metal retaining clips visible in the sash channel, remove the mechanism, and look for a manufacturer's replacement code. Once the new unit is installed, reuse or replace the wooden window stops.

For cracks and scratches

  • To temporarily fix cracks, use transparent waterproof adhesive tape.
  • For minor scratches, polish with toothpaste and toothbrush.

Window cleaning

Regular window cleaning helps prevent the need for window repair.

  • Supplies: Squeegees, a bucket of water with a few drops of dish detergent, a big sponge, some clean lint-free towels, a soft broom and a brush
  • Preparation: Thoroughly clean dust and spider webs from your frames and sashes inside and out. Use the broom, brush, vacuum, and a dry towel. Wash frames and sills inside and out with clean, damp towels.
  • Cleaning:
    • Wash one pane at a time with detergent solution.
    • Wipe dry one vertical pane edge. Start at the top and pull down the squeegee. Work away from the dry area, always keeping one squeegee edge dry.
    • Polish, if desired, with a blackboard eraser

Maintaining windows

  • Semi-annually brush, vacuum and wipe out the groves in which the window sashes slide.
  • While you're at it, check caulking. If cracked, scrape it out and reapply caulking.
  • If painted wood frames are checked, wire-brush, sand and fill as necessary, then repaint.

These tips can help you do your own window repair, or help you avoid it with regular maintenance. For more advanced window repair, you might want to check with a professional before getting started.



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