Storm Windows Need Maintenance Beyond Washing with Windex

Admiring your reflection in a newly polished streak-free window isn’t the end of window maintenance. If your storm windows are not properly maintained, they will stop protecting your home from storms, moisture will seep in, and your windowsills will rot. Storm windows can save you a lot of money on your heating bills, but they do have their little quirks. They can squeak when they open, and they get stuck when you urgently need to empty a smoke-filled kitchen. Yearly maintenance of your storm windows will get your quirky windows working all year long, and it will ensure your weather protection is kept intact.

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Corrosion on window sashes and frames can cause windows to squeak and stick. Materials accumulate on the sashes and frames when a window has been left to sit for years without cleaning, but you can avoid this by cleaning your sashes once or twice a year with a fine steel-wool pad. If you have some serious dirt and grime collecting in the window channels, you might need a table knife or small putty knife to chisel off the gunk. If you have wood channels, you can sand down the channels with 100-grit sandpaper.

To give your window channels a protective coating, dip a cloth in some paste wax and wipe it on the metal. Rubbing candle wax will keep your windows sliding smooth. Or you can spray some silicone lubricant onto the window tracks to keep the windows easy to open and close.

If your excuse for avoiding yearly maintenance is that you can’t open your window to clean in it, try a hammer – but don’t bang the sides of the window with a hammer directly. If paint has dried a window shut, put a putty knife in the side crevice, and gently tap on the handle with a hammer to loosen the seal. If tapping a putty knife doesn’t work, get a small block or scrap piece of wood, place it on the metal or wood part of the sash (not the glass) then use a hammer to give firm taps to the block. Hammer as gently as you can to loosen the seal. Don’t miss.

While you have the window open, look at the bottom for some little holes called “weep holes.” These holes keep condensation out from the middle of your windows. To keep your windows from weeping with condensation, use a thin piece of wire to poke out the debris. (A twist tie should work.) Wipe up the debris when you’re done. Condensation can also be caused by poor weatherstripping, or a window that is misaligned. If cleaning your weep holes doesn’t solve condensation problems, you’ll need to do some more investigating.

Window maintenance should always include checking your weatherstripping. Weatherstripping protects your heating and cooling bill from inflation and your windowsills from decay, but some types of weatherstripping such as foam, felt and caulk can wear down over time. Take a good close look at your weatherstripping at least once a year to make sure you don’t need any fillers or replacements.

Outside appearances aren’t everything. Put down the window cleaner and get a good look at the inside of your windows to see what window maintenance you can do this year. Keep the inside of your windows clean and free from debris, and you’ll admire how well your windows work as much as you admire how they look.

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