Q&A / 

Home Window Repair

Home window repair is not as hard as it may seem. Granted, there are hundreds of different window types, styles, and hardware all cutting across at least one hundred years, but you’ll discover that many home windows repair techniques are the same. I can clearly remember working on a sticky crank mechanism in the original steel casement windows in my childhood home. What’s more, I can remember the first time I took apart a traditional up / down wood sash window to replace a broken rope that connected to the cast-iron weight that counter balanced the sash.

Modern windows have become slightly more complex with the spring-loaded jambs that have taken the place of the clumsy, yet effective, cast-iron window weights. If you have to repair a modern spring balance, you often have to replace the side jamb. These jambs are typically held in place with hidden clips.

If you can’t figure out how to get the jamb out, always visit a local distributor who sells that window. Their service manager can take you to the showroom and demonstrate how to take apart the moving parts of the window.

Home window glass repair is a very common task. Rocks, balls, furniture, etc. can break glass with ease. With old windows, it’s usually just an exercise in removing the old putty on the outside of the window. You’ll then see tiny metal clips or spring-loaded clips that press the glass tightly against the mortised frame. These clips need to be removed to get all the glass out and the new glass panel in place. It’s not hard to get these clips out, but it’s very important to use them when you install new glass. Without the clips, the glass panel can easily be pushed from the inside, and it will pop out of the frame falling to the ground below.

Some window glass can’t be repaired this way. For many years if you broke the glass in an Andersen casement vinyl-clad window, you had to buy the entire sash with the new glass. It’s extremely easy to remove the sash from the hinges, but the price tag of a new sash may take your breath away.

Home window repair parts can be tough to find the older the windows are. You can discover a treasure trove of them if you establish a relationship with the sales manager of a local window-replacement company. Think for a moment. Imagine how many houses a company like that works in each month. The salesmen/women for a window company get inside many houses and may see what you need.

There’s a great chance houses near you have the same windows. If you tell the window-replacement company that you need certain parts, they may allow you to salvage them from windows they take out of a house. You just have to take photos of your windows and any logo information you may see on the window jambs, frames or hinges and take these with you when you visit the window-replacement company.

When it’s time to do a broken home-window repair, don’t panic. Try to be prepared in case you have a catastrophic accident and the window is open to the elements. Have plywood handy so you can cut a panel to protect your home. If repairs are not so imminent, just try to see what the problem is and contact the local distributor who handles that brand of window. Sometimes the name of the window manufacturer is imprinted in the lower corner of the glass, on the crank hardware, on the locking hardware or the hinges.

One thing you need to monitor is the condition of window sills and the lower parts of wood window jambs. Back in the 1980’s, a defective clear wood preservative was used on many window and door products. It was determined this chemical was defective causing the windows to rot. It happened at my own home.

Each spring, test your window sills and jambs with a screwdriver to see if the wood is soft. If you discover soft wood, there are additives that you can impregnate the wood with to strengthen it. If the rot is fairly bad, you can use epoxies to rebuild the wood profile. In any event, you need to make sure the window parts are painted well to ensure water can’t get into the seams where the jamb meets the window sill.

Column QA


7 Responses to Home Window Repair

Leave a Reply

You have to agree to the comment policy.