Who doesn’t love to open their windows to let in that fresh air? You may lose that small sense of serenity an open window offers if your windows aren’t in shape. Tussling with a glued-down window, or one that jerks on and off its tracks will make you want to give up on letting the breeze in.
With consistent maintenance, you’ll find yourself able to beckon in that cool air, listen to those chirping chickadees, hear the gentle sway of grass. Here are some tips to keep your windows in tip-top shape.
There are four main types of material used for windows: wood, vinyl, fiberglass, and aluminum. Each of these materials requires unique care, most of all wood. If you want your windows to last, take care to give each type of material the specific attention it needs.
Regular inspections are key.
Keep them clean and dry. As a natural material, it’s highly prone to cracks and mildew growth. Dust the frame with a dry cloth, then wash it with a mild detergent, warm water, and a soft cloth or sponge. Don’t overwet your cloth as the soapy water will run into the frame and make a moldy home there.
Make necessary repairs as soon as possible. The finish that was originally applied when installed may begin flaking, which exposes the wood to natural types of decay. If you notice this, sand the area with fine grit sandpaper. Fill cracks with wood filler, then smooth the surface with a putty knife. Allow repairs to dry overnight.
Pay attention to paint and/or finish. Some paints may trap moisture leading to decay, so look for an outdoor latex or oil-based enamel paint. If you prefer to stain your window, choose something semi transparent: it should balance the best of both sun and moisture protection.
Vinyl, Fiberglass, and Aluminum Windows
Wash them often. Clean the glass and interior regularly and often, but don’t use abrasive materials or cleaners: rough sponges or cleaners that contain things like calcite (most common in powdered form) have the potential to scratch and damage your window frame. Give the exterior window some occasional attention too; you can get by on maybe once-a-month visits. For both, use gentle soap and water and a soft cloth. Make sure you get rid of soap residue; it’ll bake in the sun and leave an unpleasant film that could become permanent.
Keep the tracks clean. Dirt inevitably piles up in the tracks of our windows, but left unchecked it will continue to accumulate and eventually stop up the window’s movement. It can also affect the energy-efficiency of your windows. It can also affect the wear of your hinges, weatherstripping, locks, and rollers. Every time you clean your windows, give the tracks your full attention, too.
Lubricate hardware. Don’t use petroleum based products which will gum up and attract dust and dirt. Use silicone-based lubricants and apply small amounts during regular cleanings and when you find things aren’t running as smoothly as they should. For the hardware, avoid abrasive solutions like those high in acid: citrus cleaners, vinegar, or ammonia are common cleaners to avoid.
Once the window frames are all in working order and gleaming to perfection, your last task is to clean the glass. You can use a generic glass cleaner or an even mix of vinegar and water. Use a microfiber cloth to wipe it down, then polish with a dry cloth for a gleaming finish.
Regular maintenance will increase the longevity of your windows, which will save more time and money in the future. Take care of your investment through consistent inspections and cleaning.