No pain maintenance for double pane windows
January 10, 2012
Proper maintenance of double pane windows for your home depends on whether your area is subject to urban pollution, airborne agricultural contaminants, salty air, blowing desert sands, and internal or external window coverings that hold humidity close to the glass. Windows that are subject to these or other special factors require more frequent maintenance than the normal two or three annual cleanings. Nevertheless, maintenance isn't rocket science. In problem areas just be aware that you may need to clean your windows every other month, or after events in which extra-salty or dirty air invades every crevice.
Double pane window care starts during installation
These maintenance tips assume that the exterior is vinyl or aluminum clad, or is made of fiberglass. Also, never apply after-market films to the glass.
- Exteriors: Many windows come with a protective removable film. The film can be scratched by carpenter tools, wrist watches, etc. Inspect for scratches after installation, as better windows may have an invisible coating under the removable film. Insist on unscratched glass. No sealants, including silicone, should touch the glass. Never use razors to remove the protective film or paint splatters. Remove the film when the temperature is above 32 degrees.
- Interiors: Use the same precautions as exteriors. If interior is exposed wood that will be stained or painted, mask off gaskets, jamb liners, silicone beads, weatherstripping and sash channels. Use only painter's masking tape.
Regular maintenance can be simple. Have lots of clean, soft, lint-free cloths available, plus a bucket, sponge, squeegee and soft brush.
- Exteriors: Don't wash windows in direct sunlight. Remove insect screens. With a cloth or soft brush, gently sweep away visible dirt. Hose down window frames and glazing. Sponge glazing with a mix of a few drops of liquid dish detergent in water, or vinegar and water. Dry with a squeegee using overlapping strokes. Clean only a 3 x 3 foot section at a time. Use a soft cloth or wet sponge to clean insect screens.
- Interiors: Remove any decorative grilles and insect screens. Open window and brush out channels and wipe with damp cloth. Close when dry. Clean grilles, glass and screens with the mild detergent solution. If grilles are grimy, a non-abrasive cleaner like Mr. Clean can be used.
- Hardware: Most finishes except oil-rubbed or distressed bronze need only the mild detergent cleaning. Chrome polish may then be used on chrome. Light mechanic's oil can be used on the bronze finishes.
Painting exterior frames may void warranties. Replacement hardware and double-hung window mechanisms can be installed by homeowners. And staying on top of maintenance can help your double pane windows long outlast their warranty.