Can These Home Windows Be Saved?

So there you are, cozied up in your favorite reading chair, cup of tea in one hand and book in the other when “yikes!”—you notice a small hole in the window beside you thanks to last week’s hail storm.

A hundred thoughts go through your head—can you repair the window? Should you replace the entire thing? Is it still safe to keep the window in the frame as-is?

You’ve got questions—we’ve got answers. Here’s a quick guide to window repair for your home.

Scratch, Crack or Chip?
While car windshields are made of laminated safety glass, windows in your house aren’t engineered to withstand substantial stress or impact. This is why home windows will shatter when hit with a rock or baseball, while your windshield just chips or cracks.

Glass damage for home windows generally fits into one of three categories: scratches, chips or cracks. The biggest difference between them is the depth of damage done to the glass.

For the most part, scratches are usually shallow and affect just the outer layer of glass. Often, scratches can be caused by branches rubbing against windows; pets, children and recreational activities can leave their mark as well, all of which can usually be fixed. As long as your window isn’t broken, the seal between panes isn’t broken and the crack isn’t too deep, surface scratches are easily reparable. However, if moisture or condensation is visible between the panes, you’ll need to replace it.

Not sure if it needs replaced? Test the depth of the window scratch. If it’s deep enough that you can catch the edge of your fingernail in the scratch, it’s too deep to remove. Clean the window with glass cleaner to reduce the appearance of dirt in the crack, then consider replacing the window if the scratch is unsightly (or turns into something worse).

If the scratch can’t be felt with a fingernail, use a specially designed glass polishing compound with cerium oxide. Apply a small amount and wipe the area with a soft cloth to polish the area.

Like scratches, cracks may not be visible at first—but generally, they are more severe. Cracks can occur even when a window isn’t struck … most are caused by stress. Stress cracks (also known as thermal stress cracks) happen when a thermal gradient causes the glass to expand by different amounts in different parts of the window. Eventually, depending on the temperature and amount of expansion, the glass can become compromised by the stress of expansion and a crack will form. Like putting a hot dish in cold water can cause it to crack or break completely, this can happen to your window, too.

Stress cracks are most common among windows that are exposed to shade (and especially large windows). If your windows are located beneath overhangs or shady trees, your risk for cracks is greater because this can cause dramatic changes in temperature.

Wondering if you have a stress crack? Check to see if it runs perpendicular to the edge of the glass. Stress cracks generally start at the glass edge and extend 1-3 inches from it—growing larger over time. Sadly, the risk for stress cracks can’t fully be eliminated as it’s a natural part of glass expansion during temperature changes. But, if you need to replace, consider installing a thicker glass and choosing features that are ideal for your climate (like thermal windows).

The most likely cause of that nuisance chip in your window is a small object hitting it—like a rock. Lawnmowers and strong storms (and don’t forget kids at play) are popular culprits to send small rocks flying. Before you panic about replacing the entire window, you may only have to fix a specific pane. Window chips are also often considered “acts of god” and are covered by many homeowner’s insurance policies. If you want to fix the chip yourself, follow the same instructions as fixing a scratch.

Should You Repair or Replace Your Windows?
Your windows serve a big purpose: they let light in, they add beauty to your home and they provide privacy (when the blinds are down!). It makes sense to get any window repaired or, if needed, replaced as soon as you can—but consider these items first:

  • How deep is the damage? Can you repair it yourself?
  • What kind of damage is it? Scratches and chips are the most common (and also the easiest to fix).
  • How big is the damage? If it’s a simple fix, no worries. If it’s more extensive, the better option is replacement.
  • Where is the damage located?

Don’t overthink it: window repair for homes is much more likely if the damage is small. If you’ve got something bigger on your hands, replacement is more probably.

Talk to the Experts
The best way to determine whether your window needs repair or replacement is to talk to the professionals. Ask your local glass expert about the best remedy for your home window.

For all of your glass needs, Jack’s Glass offers superior repair and replacement. We’ll work with your insurer to cover any and all approved costs per your policy.

Call Us Today
Jack’s Glass has excelled in glass repair, replacement and design for more than 75 years. Jack’s Glass provides repair and replacement for auto glass and custom solutions for shower and tub enclosures and many other residential glass items. We also do custom glasswork for businesses, and proudly serve Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky with locations in Elsmere, Covington and Dry Ridge.