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Keep those windows working well

29 Jun 2017

Their main purpose might be to let you see out and let the light and air in, but to do that well, windows need a bit of tender loving care. At this time of year, windows keep the weather and rain out, but if the paint is peeling, the aluminium is corroded, or the putty or seals are dry and cracked, or if the frames stick or don't close properly, they won't be up to the job.

Fix small problems early - the longer you leave them, the more costly the repair will be. Instead of sanding back and repainting your wooden frame, for example, you may end up having replacing the entire frame. Or you may end up with water damage on the wall and floor around your window that will need to be repaired.

There are hidden costs, too, of letting unwanted moisture leak into your home.  Leaking windows make your indoor air damp, encouraging mould to grow on your windows, ceilings and walls. Mould spores are very unhealthy to breathe, especially for young and old people, and those with asthma or other respiratory problems. Damp air is much harder to heat so you'll spend more money on heating. 

Poorly fitting window frames, cracked or broken panes, and worn seals or putty also let in cold air, and let warm air escape. Heating a house with gaps in your windows is like having your car heater on with your windows open – you’re not going to get too warm!  

The first step of maintenance is cleaning. Wash down the inside and outside of frames and clean out any blocked drain outlets. Don’t forget the window panes, especially any mould that may have grown from condensation. Wipe away condensation every day.

While you’re cleaning, check for other problems. Is the window shutting properly? Fix any fastenings that don’t work. Sand back sticking wooden frames, or get windows re-hung, if necessary.

Is there corrosion or pitting on aluminium frames or peeling or cracked paint on wooden frames? You can repair pitting by cleaning, sanding and repainting according to the paint manufacturer’s instructions. Sand back, prime and repaint wooden frames – if you do this early, you may only need to touch up particular areas. If you leave peeling paint unfixed, water may get into the timber underneath and it may start to rot. 

Top tip: Use Resene Enamacryl for window trims and surrounds - it's a tough, gloss waterborne enamel that's perfect for this type of job. Or for a semi-gloss finish, use Resene Lustacryl waterborne enamel.  If you’re brushing it on use the new Resene Brushing Additive to get an even smoother finish. 

Seals on aluminium windows deteriorate over time as age and sunlight shrink the rubber, causing it to pull out or leaving gaps. You may need to reinsert the rubber or have it replaced. On wooden windows, putty gets cracked or damaged when it gets old or when it isn’t protected with painted. If this has happened, the putty will need to be replaced; you can do it yourself or get a professional in.

Window maintenance is like all your home maintenance – do it little and often to save money in the long run and have a comfortable and healthy living environment.

Information courtesy of Consumer