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A beginner’s guide to windows

By: Jessica Meszaros


Windows should be examined and cleaned at least once a year to help maintain longevity.

As spring and summer begin to lengthen the days with warmer weather, it’s a bright idea to start getting your home’s windows ready to stand up to April showers and clean enough to view the May flowers.

First, look at cleaning options for each window. In addition to cleaning the glass, screens and window latches should also be cleaned of built-up grime or dust that could potentially cause breakage or malfunction. Professional window washers also have access to specialized equipment, such as ladders and telescoping window-washing tools, to safely clean hard-to-reach windows without costly rental fees. Avoid pressure-washing windows or any other glass surfaces. Ideally, according to ThisOldHouse.com, windows should be washed at least twice a year to help maintain quality.

Annual window inspections are also common practice. A professional will be able to inspect the overall structure soundness of the window while also knowing to pay attention to smaller details, like the hardware and caulking. For homeowners, be sure to note any imperfections in the windows, warped structural compounds or bubbles in caulking, in advance. Also ask a professional to examine and clean the window track to make sure panels can glide open and be closed with ease.

For security reasons, make sure window locks are functional and are easy enough for all household inhabitants to latch. Windows with stuck or broken locks can serve as an access point for intruders.

Homeowners should survey the general shape of the window to determine its condition. Long, icy winters without any regular movement can render some window parts rusted or fragile, making them prone to stuttering or breakage. A window’s hardware, screws and moving parts should be cleaned and lubricated once a year. Other simple tips, like closing windows slowly instead of banging them, can help increase the longevity of the parts.

Windows aren’t just sources of natural light. They can be the biggest source of heat loss in some homes, meaning that double- and triple-paned windows can impact electric bills. Between each individual layer of glass is a pocket of air or gas. This thermal seal provides extra insulation for both hot and cold months. However, seals can still malfunction or break with age, even on energy-efficient models, meaning regular upkeep and maintenance is still a must. Thermal seals cannot be repaired without replacing the panes entirely. So, if there’s fog, condensation or haze between the glass panes, a homeowner knows the seal has been broken and that it’s time to call in a professional.

For seriously outdated or damaged windows, complete window replacement might be the most viable and financially sound option. For 2019, aluminum window replacement has resurged as a trend after its original popularity with St. Louis home builders in the 1980s and 1990s. Aluminum windows are a more cost-effective alternative than wood or steel models but still come in a wide array of shapes, sizes, colors, finishes, designs and operational types. Today, aluminum windows have received a modern upgrade and are manufactured in a dual-pane glass style instead of a single pane model, thus making them a viable option for 2019 homeowners.

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