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Regular inspection lengthens windows' lifespan

November 8, 2012 - Windows & Exterior Walls

Today's tip is to inspect windows regularly. Environmental conditions take their toll on windows: finishes fail, sealants lose flexibility, components rot or corrode, insects bore into wood and movable parts deflect or corrode. Unfortunately, without regular window maintenance the damage becomes cumulative and eventually replacement becomes the only economical option.

Ideally, every window should be inspected annually. However, this may be impractical in facilities with large areas of glass. If that's the case, inspect a representative sample, usually between 15 and 20 percent of the total. Make certain the sample includes all types of windows installed and all exposures.

Different kinds of windows have different symptoms, but there are some common problems to look for. Start by examining the condition of the interior surfaces around the window. Look for water stains, rot and other indications that moisture has been reaching the interior. Photographs will help document the findings.

Frames and sashes may change size with use and exposure to temperature cycles. As a result, a gap can form between window components, increasing both air and water infiltration. Check the fit of all window components.

Operable windows should be opened all the way then closed. For wood windows, any binding in operation could signify swelling or warping— both indications that moisture is penetrating some components.

Examine the caulking between the frame and the building wall. Many window designs use a flexible seal between components. With time and wear, the seals can lose flexibility and fail.

Inspect the finish on the exterior of the window for defects. In most cases, paint failures on wood windows can be traced back to moisture. Paint failure on metal windows can accelerate the deterioration of the window’s metal parts. Identify not only where the paint has failed, but also the cause, if possible.

For wood windows, check all surfaces for rot and decay using a metal probe. Identify all areas where rot is detected. Note the most likely areas where moisture is gaining access to wood that shows signs of rot and decay.


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