How to Fix 5 Common Window Problems

Something is wrong with your windows. But what, exactly? And how do you fix the problem? Can it even be fixed?

Today, we’re going to look at the five most common window problems and what to do about them—whether that’s a minor repair or a window replacement. Keep reading to find out if your window should be repaired or replaced.

#1 Drafty Windows

This is one of the most common window complaints, by far. Once winter rolls around, homeowners notice that they have to crank the heater to keep the house bearably warm. This problem is a very annoying one: drafts make standing or sitting near the window intolerable, and the increased cost of heating can really hurt your wallet.

How does this problem happen?

Windows can become drafty in a variety of ways. If your window is new or only recently installed, it’s likely that the problem is due to a bad window installation. If your windows are old, however, the problem might be caused by any of the following:

  • Old weatherstripping
  • Damage from extreme weather
  • Seasonal weather changes warping the frame

Can it be fixed?

This depends on the cause of the draft: if it’s something as simple as old weatherstripping (the material around the window sash that seals gaps), it can be easily fixed: replace the weatherstripping if you see that it is peeling or has chunks missing. However, if the problem is caused by excessive warping of the frame (caused by the wood swelling and contracting over time) or damage done by extreme weather, it might be time to look for a new window.

#2 Leaky Windows

Water leaking in through your windows is a problem you don’t want to have: it’s annoying to clean up, it can cause serious water damage if left unchecked, and the excess moisture can allow the growth of dangerous mold.

Before we talk about the solution, it’s important to find out whether there is actually a problem. Your first step is to make sure that your window is closed tightly and locked: the locking mechanism of a window forms a tighter seal than just closing it. This helps prevent water from collecting in the tracks (where is doesn’t drain) during intense rains. If that solves the issue, great! If not, keep reading.

How does this problem happen?

Window leaks can be caused by a problem with the window itself, or they can be caused by a leak somewhere else in the home.

If you see leaks on the wall above or around the window, it’s likely that the leak is coming from somewhere in the wall: water can enter through that opening and trickle down around the window.

If you see leaks around the window sash or on the window frame, it’s likely that the leak is coming from the window itself. This can happen through deterioration over time—causing damaged caulking or glazing putty or loose gaskets—or improper installation.

Can it be fixed?

How you go about fixing leaky windows depends on the source of the leak.

If the leak is coming from your wall (or roof), it’s important to call a window replacement professional to find the exact source of the leak and determine your next steps. Leaks in your walls can lead to hazardous mold growth and rotting wood.

If the window itself is causing the leak, some simple maintenance may fix the problem. To fix damaged caulking, remove the old caulking, clean the area well, and add new caulking. If your gaskets are loose or no longer watertight, reseal the gasket to the window using caulk. Finally, you can try cleaning dirt and debris from the weep holes (the holes designed to drain water away from the window).

The above steps might not solve the problem if the window is significantly damaged or improperly installed. For example, if the window sill is not pitched downward, water will not drain toward the exterior of your home. This kind of window problem is one that might require help from the professionals and/or a window replacement.

#3 Hard to Open/Close Windows

Windows that are hard (or impossible) to open or close are a common problem. The good news is that it’s usually an easy fix.

How does this problem happen?

The cause of this problem generally depends on the type of window you have. If you have a wooden single or double-hung window, swelling of the wood, dirt and debris, and spring malfunctions can prevent the window from sliding easily along the track. If, on the other hand, you have an awning or casement window, the operating hardware might be faulty.

Can it be fixed?

Regardless of your window type, regular cleaning can help make sure that your windows always open smoothly.

If you have single or double-hung windows, try cleaning the window track and applying a lubricant to the track. You should also take a look at the spring mechanism in the window sash. A too-tight spring can be loosened to allow your windows to open and close more easily.

For casement or awning windows, you’ll need to look at the operating hardware. You might be able to fix the problem by lubricating the moving parts. If this doesn’t work, the hardware can usually be replaced very cheaply.

#4 Condensation along the Bottom of the Window

This type of condensation is not actually a problem with the window itself; instead, the problem shows up on your windows.

How does this problem happen?

Excess humidity in your home (from cooking, showering, and even breathing!) is the cause of this problem.

Condensation forms on the interior of the window when the warm air circulating inside your home meets the cold panes of glass of the window. When the warm, humid air hits the cold window, the air is cooled enough to become water, rolling down to the bottom of the glass.

New windows are especially susceptible to this problem because they are more airtight than older windows—keeping dry air out and humid air in.

Can it be fixed?

This problem isn’t too concerning as long as your home isn’t damp enough to cause mold growth or decay. The fix is simply a matter of balancing the humidity of your home. Try opening windows for a few minutes every day, running the bathroom fan when you shower, and using a dehumidifier.

#5 Condensation between the Window Panes

Not all condensation is created equal: while condensation along the bottom of the window interior is no big deal for your windows, condensation between the panes themselves is evidence of a problem with double or triple-pane windows. (If you have single-pane windows, this problem doesn’t apply, of course.)

How does this problem happen?

Double and triple-pane windows work by sandwiching a layer of insulating gas in between two or three sealed panes of glass. While these seals typically hold up very well, they can be damaged. When they fail, humid air is allowed in between the window panes, where it condenses and becomes water. In addition, the insulating gas is allowed to escape.

Can it be fixed?

Unfortunately, this problem can’t be entirely fixed. You can remove the moisture from between the window panes and re-seal the unit to prevent moisture from entering again. This can fix the condensation problem so that your windows no longer look foggy; however, your window will no longer be as energy efficient as it originally was: the insulating gas has escaped. Your best bet here is window replacement.

Questions? Contact Us!

We hope this in-depth look at a few common window problems has helped. (You can also check out the rest of our blog posts for even more useful information.) If you still have questions or need more information about window replacement, we’d be happy to talk to you. Call us today to talk to a Jack’s Glass residential window expert.