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Can I Repair My Broken Windows, or Do I Need to Replace Them?

August 13, 2016 / Author: Colin Gibson

From water damage to astronomical heating bills, faulty windows can cause a variety of problems. Given that replacing a house full of windows can cost upwards of $10,000, repairing your existing windows is usually preferable to replacing them, when possible. The following guide will help you to identify the source of your problem and find the best – and most cost-effective – solution.

What to Do When Your Windows Leak

Leaking windows can cause drywall damage, rot, and mould, and therefore need to be addressed as soon as possible. There are three main causes and corresponding solutions for leaking windows:

Exterior window seal problems: These tend to occur when the caulking around either your window or exterior flashing has cracked or chipped away. This is the easiest problem for a contractor to fix, as all it usually takes is to remove and replace the old caulking.

Improperly installed or shifted windows: Windows are sloped so that any water that falls inside them or in the sill is carried away. Whether due to improper installation or a shifting of the window or house over time, windows can lose their ability to carry moisture away from the house. When caught early, this problem can usually be repaired.

Roof leaks: Often when water damage is seen around the window area, the real culprit is a leaking roof. Roof leaks have a number of causes, some of which we detail here. An experienced contractor will be able to isolate the cause of the leak and repair it accordingly.

Fix Your Leaks Before They Cause Rot!

One of the most obvious indications that you need new windows, rot is usually a sign that your windows have been leaking for some time. Rot is most commonly found on older windows.

Aside from the problems caused by leaks, as discussed above, that rot alludes to, it also causes another problem: mould.

Inevitably, rot leads to mould. According to Health Canada, the effects of mould can include eye, nose and throat irritation; coughing and phlegm build-up; wheezing and shortness of breath; symptoms of asthma; and allergic reactions.

Rotting and mouldy windows aren’t just a problem for old windows; some newer subdivisions build their homes with wood that hasn’t been aged properly, causing it to rot prematurely.

If the rot or mould is just on your windowsill, you might be able to replace part of the frame. If the rot extends under the sash, or includes the sash, you will likely have to replace the entire window. A good window installer will be able to advise you on your options and best course of action.

Poor Insulation: A Different Kind of Leak

Poorly insulated windows cause heat to leak out of your house in the winter, and cool air to leak out in the summer. This leads to an uncomfortable living environment and an expensive energy bill.

There are two main factors that contribute to poor insulation:

Loss of window seal: When the seal around your glass panes (called the “sealed unit”) breaks, the gas escapes and your window loses its ability to insulate. If you can see condensation or dirt inside your sealed unit, you know you have lost your seal. In newer windows, the sealed unit can usually be replaced without having to install a new window and is often covered under warranty. In older windows, especially those made of wood, the entire window may need to be replaced.

Very old windows: Windows that are very old may have been installed without sealed units and the gas that serves to insulate newer windows. If this is the case, the only option is to have new windows installed.

Having trouble figuring out if your windows are insulated properly? Aside from the above-mentioned condensation inside the sealed unit, if your window feels cold to the touch inside during the winter, it is not properly insulated, and you are spending more money to heat your house as a result.

Broken Handles, Cranks, and Locks

Last but not least, broken window hardware can be tolerated for only so long before a fix is required. Sometimes the parts can be replaced, and sometimes they can’t be. Follow these steps to find out how to fix your window’s handles, cranks, and locks:

Get in touch with the manufacturer: Your window may still be under warranty; in which case, the manufacturer will send a technician to fix it for you. Even if it’s not under warranty, they may still make the part, in which case you can pay to have a technician come and repair it for you.

Call a reputable window installer: If you can’t find the manufacturer, or if they can’t help you, a good installer may be able to find hardware that will work with your existing window. If they can’t find the right hardware, they will be able to give you an estimate on a new window.

From energy cost savings to the peace of mind that comes with knowing that your home is protected from water damage, there are many benefits to having new windows installed. For more information, contact Edmunds Home Improvements today.