Homeowner’s Guide to Window Maintenance
As windows age, they must be maintained carefully to continue looking and functioning like they’re supposed to. If your windows are left too dirty, or they develop small problems that aren’t maintained, they will wear out prematurely. That’s why it’s so important to know how to maintain your windows. Knowing how to properly maintain your windows also helps you decide when to do the maintenance yourself vs when you need to call in a professional.
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Homeowner’s Guide to Window Maintenance
As windows age, they must be maintained carefully to continue looking and functioning like they’re supposed to. If your windows are left too dirty, or they develop small problems that aren’t maintained, they will wear out prematurely. That’s why it’s so important to know how to maintain your windows. Knowing how to properly maintain your windows also helps you decide when to do the maintenance yourself vs when you need to call in a professional window cleaning service.
What Are the Basics of Window Maintenance?
Understanding the basics of home window maintenance is important for keeping your windows healthy over time. Failing to maintain your windows properly will cause them to age prematurely and leave you with unsightly windows or windows that don’t function as they’re meant to. Here are a few basics to keep in mind for maintaining your windows.
Annually Inspect Your Windows
Each year, inspect your windows carefully, noting any discolorations, peeling paint, dirt in the tracks, tears in the seals, and more. Also, lock and unlock the windows to see if they come together smoothly.
Look at how your windows sit in the casements and try to spot signs of settling or poor window fitment. Settling can cause your windows to slide poorly and may create gaps in the windows.
Operate any moving parts on your windows, including cranks, locks, and more. Note any issues you have with these parts, including stiffness or difficulty moving them. Look closely at the screens for tears. Inspect the splines around the screens for rips and tears as well.
Keep your list of potential issues handy, so you can correct the minor ones yourself and hire window experts to correct the remaining problems.
Fully Clean the Frames, Glass, and Screens
At least twice a year, your windows and screens should be fully cleaned. This means spraying them down, scrubbing them heavily, and rinsing away any debris that’s accumulated on your windows.
Carefully clean the glass, being sure not to leave behind any streaks or spots. Wipe down the frames and rinse them off carefully for a perfect finish. You can remove your window screens and scrub them down with soap and water and a stiff brush. Rinse them fully before reinstalling them.
Clean and Lubricate the Tracks
Windows slide back and forth in their tracks. These tracks fill with dirt, grease, and contaminants over time. Carefully wipe out the tracks to clear them. Finish maintaining the tracks by applying a lubricant to help your windows slide smoothly. Use silicone lubricant on vinyl slides and plain candle wax or dry wood lubricant on wooden slides.
Lubricate Any Moving Components
Finally, you should apply a general-purpose oil such as 3-in-1 light oil to any cranks, locks, and other moving components to keep them moving freely. If you spend time maintaining all these different bits of your windows, you’ll keep them in good condition and prolong their lifespan.
If your windows are significantly damaged in any way or aren’t functioning properly, you should hire window specialists to make the necessary repairs on your windows. Attempting window repairs yourself can lead to more serious problems.
What Maintenance Is Required on Wood Windows?
One essential part of regular home maintenance is caring for wood windows, which are common in so many homes. While the maintenance steps outlined above apply to wooden windows as well, you also have to care for the finish of your window frames and trim.
Wooden windows are protected by paint and other finishes, and these coatings wear with time. Many modern wooden windows have aluminum cladding on the outside, which resists weathering well, but for older windows, you’ll have to update the exterior side of your windows regularly to keep them functional and protected.
Maintaining your windows is really about checking, lubricating, and cleaning them frequently. If you do these things or hire professionals to do them for you, your windows will last longer and perform more reliably.
What Is the Best Homemade Window Cleaner?
When you decide to start cleaning windows yourself, you need a good homemade window-washing solution for squeegee cleaning. You can make an effective homemade window cleaner without vinegar that removes grime fast. The key is to use distilled or filtered water and high-quality dish soap. Combine those two ingredients, and you have a reliable cleaner.
Use the recipe below to help you determine what portions of liquids to use in your homemade cleaner. If you want to make a homemade cleaner with ammonia, you can add it to the solution for enhanced cleaning power. Be aware that only a small amount of concentrated ammonia is necessary to clean windows effectively.
Homemade Window Cleaner Recipe
- 2 Gallons of Water
- 2 tsp of Dish Soap
- 2 tsp Pure Ammonia
When you create this basic window cleaner, you can use it with a scrubber and a squeegee and achieve streak-free windows. Many professional window cleaners use this solution to clean windows, and some use a variation of the cleaner with slight additives such as ammonia, a wetting agent, or a surfactant like Jet Dry.
Homemade Window Cleaner FAQ
What is the best homemade solution for washing windows?
The best homemade solution for cleaning windows is a blend of 2 gallons of filtered or distilled water and 2 tsp of dish soap. Adjust the ratio between soap and water for more or less cleaning power. Consider adding 2 tsp of ammonia and 2 Tbsp of Jet Dry for cleaning seriously dirty windows.
What is the best way to clean windows without streaking?
Quickly and thoroughly scrub the windows with a basic cleaning solution and then wipe away the dirty water using a squeegee. Use filtered or distilled water and remove it fast enough, and you won’t have any streaks.
Does cleaning windows with vinegar work well?
Vinegar is a powerful cleaning solvent, and its acid compound works well on many types of dirt and grime that clings to windows. Mixing water and vinegar together creates an effective window-cleaning solution. Consider adding a small amount of dish soap as well to avoid streaks when cleaning with vinegar.
What Window Cleaning Tools Do Homeowners Need?
You need a few specialized tools to clean your windows properly. The most important is a window scrubber and a window squeegee. Get high-quality versions of these tools, and you have the foundation of your window cleaning toolkit.
Essential Cleaning Tools
- Window Squeegee
- Window Scrubber
- Window Bucket
- Glass Scraper
- Steel Wool
- Brass Wool
Once you have these basics, you can add in steel wool, brass wool, and a window scraper tool. Invest in a good window bucket, and you will have all the tools you need to clean all your home’s windows.
How Do You Take Care of Old Windows?
As windows age, they become more and more worn. By following a basic guide to maintaining windows for homeowners, you can slow the aging process down and at least keep your windows functional over time.
Good window maintenance isn’t complicated. It’s basically keeping your windows properly cleaned, updating the finish as it wears, and maintaining all the moving components. If you do these things, you’ll keep your windows going for as long as possible.
Keep Them Clean
The most important part of good window maintenance is to clean your windows at least twice a year. Fully clean the glass, the frame, the slides, the screens, and any coverings on your windows.
It’s important to ensure no grime is left behind on your window surfaces. Any debris that remains can cause excess weathering and etching and prematurely wear your windows.
Maintain the Moving Parts
You should lubricate all the moving parts of your windows regularly. Apply silicone lubricant to vinyl tracks, and plain candle wax to wooden window slides to enable them to move freely.
Lubricate any hinges, cranks, and locks with 3-in-1 general-purpose oil or another solvent-free lubricating oil to allow them to move freely.
How to Restore Old Window Frames
As windows age, one of the first parts that begins to wear is the frame. Old wooden frames can rot. They can swell and bubble as they take on water, and they become worn from weathering. If your frame isn’t too bad, you can restore it back to good condition again. You’ll have to grind and sand away any damaged wood before applying a filler to create smooth surfaces. Sand the frame and coat it with an exterior paint finish for a like-new finish.
It’s better to learn how to maintain window frames before they wear out, so you don’t have to fully restore them. Often, you can keep your window frames in good condition just by maintaining their finish and repairing issues around your windows that could result in water damage.
If you have seriously damaged or worn window frames, it’s probably time to consider having new windows installed in your home.
Update the Finish
Finish maintaining your old windows by caring for the frame finish. Carefully scrape and sand away peeled or chipped paint before applying paint and primer once again. Make repairs to the paint finish on your window frames annually to prevent weathering and excess wear.
When Do You Need Window Repairs or To Replace Old Windows?
Windows maintain peak performance for around 15 years before they begin to leak and suffer from issues such as settling. As a homeowner, you’ll have to decide whether to maintain and repair an existing window or to fully replace the window.
While it’s possible to complete some minor repairs to the frame of your window, the seals of the window, or the slides, if the glass of your window becomes damaged, you will likely have to replace it. That’s because modern windows feature multiple panes, and many have a gas layer added in between the layers of glass as well.
If you have single-pane windows in your home that are old enough for a residential window repair where you replace the glass, you should still consider having the windows replaced with modern multi-pane windows for superior insulation.
How Can You Check Your Windows for Leaks?
If your windows are more than 15 years old and in okay condition still, you should check them to see if they’re leaking significantly. To do this, turn off your HVAC system, close all the windows in your home, and then turn on the fan for your heating system. Hold a lit candle or incense in front of the suspected window inside your home.
If you notice air being pulled in through the window rapidly, you have a serious leak. Check around each of the windows in your home in this way, and if they’re leaking significantly, it’s probably time to replace them.
Replacing old and leaky windows will make your home more energy efficient and save you money on your heating and cooling costs.
Talk with a window professional about window replacement costs, potential window repairs that can be completed, and what to do with older windows in your home.
S&K Building Services Maintains Your Windows, So You Don’t Have To
Maintaining windows requires dedicated cleaning, refinishing, and lubricating tools and know-how. It’s a time-consuming process that requires skill, and full window maintenance is overwhelming for many homeowners. If you want your windows maintained well, call S&K Building Services Inc. today for reliable and efficient window cleaning and maintenance services. Get help from professionals, so your windows live a long life.
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