Tips for Maintaining Exterior Windows
Your home’s windows provide natural light, protection from the elements and a clear view of the outside world. Keeping them clean helps contribute to your curb appeal, but you’ll also want to check the frames, weather stripping and mechanisms once a year, and make sure your seasonal installation of screens and storm panels is done properly. With regular care, you’ll preserve your windows’ looks and prevent damage, too.
Inspect, clean, and lubricate your windows, frames, and window hardware annually.
Care and Maintenance
Follow these care and maintenance suggestions for your home’s windows.
To Maintain the Windows
Check all hardware on the window. Check the opening and closing mechanism, including the hinges, locking mechanism, jambs, and sliders. Make sure screws are tight and that the rest of the hardware, such as the locks, operates smoothly.
Inspect the weatherstripping to make sure it’s effective.
Check the condition of the gaskets holding the glass.
To maintain the window weep holes
Window weep holes channel water to the exterior of your home. They can become clogged by dust and bugs, making regular maintenance necessary.
Follow These Suggestions to Maintain the Weep Holes:
Vacuum or dust window tracks monthly to keep them free of dirt and debris. Spray silicone on the track after cleaning. Roll the window back and forth to lubricate the rollers.
Don’t put cotton balls in the window track, as they can restrict the flow of water to the exterior of your home.
To Clean the Glass
If the outside of the glass is lightly soiled
1. Clean with a solution of 1 cup of vinegar to 1 gallon of water. Apply this solution with a lint-free cloth or sponge.
2. Dry the glass with a chamois, lint-free cloth, or paper towel.
3. Use a rubber squeegee to speed the drying process.
If the outside of the glass is extremely dirty
1. Wipe it with a piece of crumpled newspaper.
2. Wash it with a solution of 1 tablespoon of household ammonia (or 3 tablespoons of denatured alcohol) to 1 quart of warm water, or use a commercial glass cleaner containing ammonia.
Prevent condensation from forming on the inside of windows. In most cases, you can control the problem by reducing the humidity level in your home.
Don’t use a metal scraper to clean the glass. A scraper may scratch your window.
To Maintain the Window Frames
If your window frames have an aluminum mill finish, they should never need painting. If your aluminum window frames have a bronze or white finish, the frames won’t oxidize. If they don’t have a bronze or white finish, you can either allow the normal graying process to take place or protect the frame from coloring.
Follow these suggestions to maintain the window frames:
- Lubricate aluminum window frames with a silicone lubricant. This product is available in aerosol form and can be purchased at most home care centers.
- Clean aluminum window frames with a mild detergent solution.
If you allow the normal graying process to take place:
- The finish will age to a uniform gray color. This oxidation actually will help protect the window frame from the elements.
If you prefer to preserve the bright, new look of the frame:
- Apply a coat of wax to the frame.
- To restore aluminum that has already turned gray, polish it with steel wool. Prevention, though, is easier than polishing.
Vinyl and wood
Wash the frames with only a mild, nonabrasive cleaner and water. Never use abrasive or acidic cleaners. Before using any cleaner, test it in an inconspicuous area of the frame. Dry window frames after cleaning them.
To Maintain the Seal Around the Window Frame
If the seal around the window frame breaks, call the manufacturer for repair.
To maintain the seal, see Exterior Caulking.
For more information about windows, visit the manufacturer’s website.
If Your Home Is Part of a Homeowners Association (HOA)
Check with your HOA regarding maintenance, and be familiar with all HOA documentation.