As your windows get older, you’ll notice they might not work like they used to. Maybe they let in a draft, accumulate mold and mildew, or show signs of damage. While extreme cases of deterioration may call for new, energy-efficient windows from Homespire Windows and Doors, you may be able to reverse and prevent minor damage on your windows. You can help keep your windows looking and working well if you learn how to preserve house windows.
In this guide, you’ll see how to care for and clean various window materials, what to look for when you inspect windows for damage, and more useful tips. Consult the guide below to learn how to keep your house windows functioning like new.
Become Familiar With Your Window’s Care
Maintaining a window involves more than just its glass panes. You also have to consider the surrounding areas and know how to care for the material. At Homespire, we use 100% virgin vinyl along with special additives to construct our window frames, but you may currently have wood, fiberglass, aluminum, composite, or other materials around your windows. In general, you should clean and care for your windows once or twice a year and follow certain steps based on the type of window you have:
- Vinyl: With a nonporous surface that never stains, vinyl is the easiest to care for. You’ll only need to clean it with a damp washcloth. You won’t need to repaint or refinish a vinyl surface like you would need to with a wood surface.
- Wood: As an older material, wood requires the most care. Clean it with a soft cloth and water, following the grain. Use a mix of dish detergent and water to clean dirtier wood surfaces. Check for scratches or marks, touching them up with a matching paint or wood finish. Re-coat wood windows every few years to help them last longer.
- Fiberglass: Clean fiberglass window frames with the same mix of detergent and water you’d use for wood. If you’ve painted your fiberglass window frames, you’ll need to repaint them every few years, but you won’t have to check for warping.
- Composite: If you know what your composite windows consist of, use that to guide how you care for them. Composite contains natural and synthetic materials, and sometimes the ratio leans more one way than the other. You likely won’t need to refinish composite frames, and you can use a soft cloth, water, and detergent to clean them.
- Aluminum: While aluminum window frames are simple to care for, it’s vital to keep the window tracks clean. Dust them, sweep out the dirt, and use a small, angled attachment for your vacuum hose to prevent the accumulation of dirt that affects the window’s sashes. You should also prevent water from pooling on the surface to avoid rust.
How Do You Clean the Outside of Windows?
Unless you’ve just experienced extreme wind, storms, or construction that dirtied the outside of your windows, you can likely just clean your windows once or twice a year. To clean and maintain the outside of your windows, follow these steps:
- Clean on a dry, cloudy day so the sun doesn’t dry cleaning products onto your windows
- Sweep or wipe dirt and dust from the outside of your windows
- Spray the glass generously with a glass cleaner
- Wipe with a microfiber cloth, working from top to bottom
- Clean the weep holes that allow water drainage
How do you keep your windows clean longer? Wiping excess dirt and dust from the window is a key factor. Without dusting the window first, you spread dirt and dust around the glass, which will reappear once it dries.
If you have wood window frames, avoid getting glass cleaner on them. Strong cleaning chemicals can cause damage or discoloration, so you may want to opt for an alternative combination of water, vinegar, and rubbing alcohol. If you’d still like to use glass cleaners, work in smaller sections to avoid letting cleaner drip down onto the wood. Use a reliable spray bottle that helps you direct where the cleaner goes, and try a thicker formula that won’t run down as you clean.
How Do You Clean and Care for Window Screens?
Your window screens are useful for ventilating a room without letting anything in but the breeze. Because your screens are always exposed to the outdoors, they can accumulate dust and dirt. They’re simple to clean with these steps:
- Mix hot water with dish detergent.
- Remove the screen from your window.
- Use a soft brush and soapy water to clean the screen.
- Rinse the screen to remove excess dirt and soap.
- Allow the screen to dry before putting it back.
Clean your window screens about once a year when you clean your windows. Another part of window screen care is making repairs or replacements as necessary. If you have your windows open and notice insects coming in, you may have an issue with the screen. Check for small holes, which can be patched with window screen tape, or replace the whole screen if you have larger tears. Make sure your screen closes all the way, and check the window spline that holds the screen in the window.
Engage in Careful Inspections
You can’t help your windows function like new if you don’t inspect them for damage, wear, and other issues. Check your windows at the start of every season to prepare them for upcoming weather changes. In your inspection, you should do the following:
- Check for moisture: Take a look at your window pane, frame, and sill to check for moisture during rainy, humid seasons or after storms. You may see water droplets on the glass and mildew, mold, or discoloration on the window frame if you do have moisture.
- Check for fogging between panes: If you have double-pane windows, moisture could appear as fogging or condensation between the glass. That means you have a broken seal.
- Inspect the weather stripping: Check that the weather stripping along the track is flexible and not hard. Make sure there are no broken, worn, or missing pieces.
- Make sure the window functions: Check that you can open and close your windows without any snags or gaps. Make sure your windows open in the first place and don’t fall closed.
- Make sure the locks work: Window locks help protect your home. Make sure that whatever type of lock you have is functioning and you can’t open your windows once you lock them.
Along with those issues, check for broken panes, warping, or rotting in your window frames. Inspect windows from the inside and outside and look for any signs of wear, tear, or damage.
Seal the Window Properly
A window without an adequate seal can result in drafts, which can impact your home’s energy efficiency. If you feel cold air or breezes coming through your window, you’ll need to check the existing seal and may need to reapply one. You have a few options for products when sealing your window, including:
- Spray-foam insulation: Insulating foam sealant fills gaps around your window. Use minimal expanding foam that’s meant for windows so it won’t expand too much and follow the package instructions.
- Caulk: Re-caulk old spots around the outside frame of the window with exterior caulking. You can do the same indoors if your windows aren’t fitted or insulated well.
- Sticky foam tape: Windows that fit poorly or have warped can get a better seal if you put sticky foam tape along the track or on the sides of the stops.
- Plastic film: For a temporary solution that’s popular during colder months, apply plastic window film to the interiors of your windows. This can help you buy yourself time to find a permanent fix once the weather is a bit warmer.
If your windows fit incorrectly or aren’t insulated well, new, professionally installed windows from Homespire Windows and Doors can help improve your home’s energy efficiency.
Repair Any Damage Immediately
Minor damage can affect your windows’ energy efficiency and appearance. To keep your windows looking and functioning like new, check for signs of damage and repair them as soon as you notice them. You can tell if your window has minor damage and make repairs if it:
- Has splinters: If your wood window frame has splinters, carefully apply small spots of wood glue under the splinters. Secure them with painters tape for 24 hours then remove the tape. Scrape away excess dried wood glue with a putty knife.
- Has holes or cracks: Fill holes in your window’s frame with an epoxy wood filler. Paint over the epoxy to seal your repairs and prevent future minor damage.
- Has paint chipping or a scratched finish: Touch up or re-coat the paint or finish as needed to maintain the quality and appearance of your window’s frame, which is vital for wood materials.
- Won’t close: If this is the case, clean and lubricate the track of your window. If it still doesn’t close, you may have to tighten the fasteners or straighten the window.
Major damage can include warping, large holes, chips, and cracks in your window panes, which may call for either a new frame or an entirely new window.
Eliminate Mold and Mildew
Condensation and moisture lead to mold and mildew in and around your windows. You may spot this on your window sills and frames, which affects the aesthetic appeal of your windows. The moisture that’s causing mold and mildew can also lead to damage, so it’s essential to check for this issue, clean mildew, and stop mold in its tracks.
Mold and mildew will likely appear as dark spots around your windows. You may even notice moisture built up on the window panes. No matter how much mold or mildew you see, take immediate steps to clean it with the following process:
- Mix one part bleach with three parts water.
- Use a nonabrasive brush to scrub the mixture around your window.
- Let the mixture sit for 10 to 15 minutes to help kill the mold.
- Wipe away the solution and loosened mold or mildew with a clean rag.
- Dry your window and the surrounding area with a clean, dry rag.
- Ensure your window is completely dry before closing it.
If you prefer not to clean with bleach, you can use white vinegar to eliminate mold. Spray undiluted white vinegar around the window and let it sit for 30 minutes to an hour. Wipe the vinegar and mold away with a damp rag and dry with a clean rag. Leave the window open until the surface dries, which will also help the smell of the vinegar dissipate.
When you clean mold from around your window, don’t only focus on the areas where you can see the mold. There may be invisible spores that will grow mold again. Clean around the window and the entire window sill to prevent future mold growth. And don’t forget to wipe down the window’s track, getting between the grooves with your cleaner of choice.
You can help prevent condensation and mold or mildew growth around your window by monitoring the room the window is in. If you have a moisture problem in a room, consider using a dehumidifier and checking for insulation issues in the walls. Make sure you also keep the room at an adequate temperature to help prevent condensation from building on your windows.
Another way to prevent mold or mildew growth around your window is to maintain your window’s seal and quality. Mold and mildew caused by excessive condensation or moisture can be a sign that your windows are not sealed correctly. If you have older windows, it may be an issue with their quality or insulating abilities. In that case, you’ll want to consider Homespire replacement windows.
Replace Your Windows With Homespire Windows and Doors
Try as you might, maintenance and care can only do so much for older, damaged windows. Replace those windows and revamp your home with new products from Homespire Windows and Doors. As a local company serving the tri-state area, we offer superior knowledge the big box stores can’t. We know the area, and we know what windows will suit this region’s climate and your home’s needs. In fact, Homespire Windows have the potential to save you up to 35% on your energy costs.
Protect your home and conserve energy with Homespire Windows and Doors. Contact us today to schedule a free window analysis or to learn more about our high-quality products and services that keep your home and needs in mind.