My Window Doesn’t Work: Top 5 Most Common Repairs

What you need to consider when faced with a repair is the overall condition of the window, the jamb and the sill. An expensive repair on one window may just turn into another expensive repair on another window a few months from now. So depending on the repair you’re faced with today, consider the repair type against a series of potential repairs you may be faced with with all your other windows.

Of course cost is always an issue, but the expense of ongoing repairs can often lead to a higher overall outlay when faced with a replacement. In any case, always price out the replacement cost for a window you’re planning to repair. This is your chance to get a quote, and you may be surprised that the cot difference between a repair job and replacement isn’t as much as you think.


Fixing a Window Limiter

Repairing Sticky Windows

Wooden windows typically stick seasonally when the wood swells. Vinyl windows can be hard to open and close when they’re out of alignment. There are a few tricks you can try before doing any heavy lifting. Try rubbing some candle wax along the sticking edge of wooden windows. You’ll see where it sticks because the paint will probably be worn off. Failing that, you can use a small hand planer and shave off a little bit of the wood. Take off a little extra for paint, otherwise you’ll be right back to where you started.

Sometimes the constant expansion and contraction of the wood can lead to window hinges and hardware becoming loose or sticky. Also check those and either loosen or retighten them as required. Putting a dab of oil on them would also result in a bit of an overhaul.

When it come to vinyl windows, the screws (2 on each side) may need to be loosened and re-tightened very carefully to bring the window back into alignment. Since vinyl windows don’t shrink or swell, frame alignment is usually the culprit. Oiling the hardware periodically also helps keep your windows working properly.


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Old Wooden Window Sill in Need of Repair

Repairing Rotten Window Sills

Whether you have vinyl or wooden windows, the sills can rot out if water collects at the base of the window without adequate drainage. Usually, only part of the sill is rotten, so there’s no need for major repairs. You can just mark the rotten part off with a pencil, cut back to good wood, and cut a new piece to fit. Remember to countersink the screws in the new piece so they don’t stick out. Plane or sand the new place to match, add a little putty to cover the crack between the two pieces, sand smooth and you’re done! Ready for paint! If the whole thing is rotten, then you’re best off to remove the window and replace both the jamb and sill. When you get into this kind of work, professional help may be advisable. At this stage, replacing the window too may prove to be the most economical way to permanently solve the problem.

Fixing Vinyl Window

Vinyl Window Repair and Maintenance

Generally, vinyl windows don’t require a lot of upkeep. The most common issus are broken latches, stiff hinges and dirty vinyl. If you need to adjust the alignment, follow the steps outlined above. If you need to replace a latch, carefully pry of the cover hiding the screws, if there is a cover. If you have a replacement latch (generic “fits all” latches are widely available), then it’s usually just a matter of a couple of screws and a quick replacement.

Cleaning your windows will make them look brand new, so it’s worth while doing. You can buy cleaners made for smooth vinyl windows, which may be the best approach, or you can use soap and water. If that works, and removes any dark staining, then that’s all you need. Make sure you clean the window seals as well. There are rubber seal lubricants which should be applied every couple of years to keep your window well sealed and to keep the seal from disintegrating from UV or drying out.

Repairing Broken Glass Panes

Take care with this, as glass shards can cut deep and fast, almost without you even noticing, after it’s too late. Before you do any of this, wear protective gloves and safety glasses. Then, carefully tape up the pane to be removed. This keeps the shards from falling out an from cutting you. And make sure you use a drop cloth under the window. Glass is hard to vacuum up.

You may have to use a putty knife to remove old seals or a pry bar to remove any vinyl bead trim. The putty can be, and should be replaced, but vinyl bead trim can, and should be removed carefully and reused. In any event, if the window is under warranty, don’t do the work yourself, as it may void the warranty for the entire window.

If you have glass broken in a single pane lead-glass window, the process can be simpler than you think. You’ll probably be able to pull out the glass piece easily. Make a cardboard template of the glass piece and have a new piece cut to match from a local glass supplier. The reinstallation can be done using a caulk sealant. Using a dispenser, run an even bead around the perimeter of the folded lead. Now you can position the pice in place, fold the lead back again until it’s flush with the surface.

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