Window Seal Failure: Why It Happens and What to Do About It
You do a lot to keep your home humming. But lately, despite your best efforts, your windows are looking grimy or just plain won’t do their job. It could be that the seal – the part that keeps your house insulated and good as new – has been compromised in a process called window seal failure.
Usually this problem calls for window replacement. Read on to find out why window seal failure happens and what to do about it.
How Window Seals Work
Let’s first get straight on what a window seal does when it’s performing correctly. Many homeowners don’t know that the glass isn’t doing all the work in your windows. In double-pane windows (also known as thermopane or insulated windows), an inert gas such as argon or krypton goes between two panes of glass.
This forms a seal by displacing outside air. The seal gets a boost from a desiccant, a moisture absorbing substance, inside (think like the little sachet that comes in your new pair of shoes). It’s important to note that window maintenance can preserve argon gas from escaping.
How To Identify Window Seal Failure
You might not notice a window seal failure at first. However, with time you’ll feel it in your house and in your pocket. One clue you’d probably be quick to investigate is a draft. This is air getting in and causing uneven heat and cold.
Or there might be a tell-tale fog or condensation that won’t wipe away. In time this grime will become a build-up that can’t be cleaned off at all. That’s because it’s inside the glass if you can believe it! It’s a nuisance that throws a wrench in your morning and night. But what causes it?
If Your Window Pane Is Warped, Rotted or Peeling
Weather conditions can make the window pane distort. As temperatures change, the frame will expand and contract. In addition, moisture can get in and cause wood to swell and decay.
That makes the window pane pull away from the glass so it’s not perfectly flush. If you notice this kind of deterioration, it’s likely the seal has been compromised too.
If Your Window Has Fog, Condensation or Mold
Similarly, mold from moisture can cause the same kind of wood distortion. Moisture from weather conditions gets inside the pane – worsened by stagnant air. This means the seal between the window panes is broken or the desiccant we talked about earlier has soaked up all the water it can.
Another reason window replacement is your friend: you can select a style that’s made to boost air circulation.
If Your Window Was Installed or Caulked Incorrectly
Sometimes it’s as simple as the window being installed incorrectly. An imperfect fit means air and moisture are getting in. If it’s not fitted properly, it follows that there will be a gap.
This could also occur if you install it perfectly, but make mistakes while caulking the perimeter. Your windows can be pristine and beautiful, but a bad seal will undo all that.
What To Do About Window Seal Failure
Your first question: can this be fixed, or do you need to go window shopping? Here’s what you can do.
- Prevention: Inspect your windows at the start of each season. Keep them clean and clear so you can tell what’s a normal smudge and what’s interior moisture or mold. On the installation side of things, you can try to improve your windows’ performance with weatherstripping.
- Maintenance: Additionally, circulate air in the room to discourage excess moisture. Use fans and, weather permitting, windows for ventilation. You can also consider investing in a dehumidifier or moisture-zapping product like DampRid. (That’s a full-size desiccant made for whole closets or rooms.) These tricks won’t help a compromised seal, but they can stop water from setting in and making the problem worse.
- Replacement: These temporary fixes address the symptoms, but not the seal itself. Once a window seal has failed, the only real option is window replacement.
The Bottom Line on Window Seal Failure
If you’ve determined that you need to replace your windows, you can find a replacement for the style you had previously. (You may even find it an upgrade from the original if you’re new to vinyl.)
Or you can take this as a chance to start fresh with another style. Always go with professionals for your window replacement needs. We offer any style to suit your home. And with quality construction and materials, you’ll have peace of mind knowing they’ll last for many memories to come.