How To Identify Window Seal Failure And What To Do About It
January 13, 2023
If you own an older home or your windows weren’t installed professionally, chances are good that at least a couple of your window seals are failing, leaving you with less energy efficiency, a less comfortable home, home value depreciation, compromised views and visibility, wood rot, metal rust, and possibly something much harder to detect – mold and mildew that can damage your health.
Below, you’ll learn how to identify window seal failure, what you can do yourself to limit the problem from worsening, and how Keyprime’s door and window experts can help.
What is a window seal?
While older windows were made with a single pane, modern windows are usually double-paned and filled with inert gas (like argon or krypton) to reduce heat transfer of cold or heat from outdoors. Besides their weather resistance and insulation benefits, which are especially critical in Minnesota winters, these insulated gas units or “IGUs” offer unmatched clarity – that is, unless they’re compromised by a common problem – broken window seals.
How to detect a failed window seal
Seals of all types can fail – whether rubber, plastic, felt, metal, or some combination of bonded materials. Manufacturing issues and improper installation are the usual suspects, but perfectly fitted windows will wear down over time. Direct sunshine, cleaning chemicals, harsh winds, house settling, packed and melting snow, and even your typical unchecked moisture takes a toll. Not too many homeowners have the knowledge, interest, or foresight to keep an eye on their windows and window seals.
Here are the common signs of window seal failure:
- Condensation is #1. If your gorgeous views have been hampered by humidity, it may not be the outside of your window. Moist air can seep into a broken window seal as your warm home meets the cold temps outside, causing hazy or foggy windows.
- Cold, drafty home. This one’s obvious. Window seals do just what the name implies. In the winter, if you notice a particularly cool spot inside, it’s to inspect windows.
- Distortion of glass. Gas leakage out of an insulated glass unit may cause window panes to bow inward. This shifting is easiest to see from the exterior, but if you stand in front of your window from the inside, you may notice a distorted reflection compared to other windows in the house.
Other signs of a failed window seal include insect intrusion, damaged window frames, and windows that are hard to open and close.
How to prevent failed window seals
Like with most home-maintenance, a little attention and TLC can go a long way in preventing window seal damage. Here are some easy, preventative maintenance tips for sustaining the life of your triple or double-pane windows.
- Before adding a window film to your panes, check your window warranty. This type of DIY modification can void your warranty and leave you without coverage.
- Inspect your windows occasionally and caulk any gaps between the panes and sash.
- Avoid heat guns and chemical strippers to remove old paint and varnish. Excessive heat or unnatural chemicals can (and will) damage window seals.
- Avoid cleaning your windows with a high-pressure washer that could tear seals or work its way into the sash.
If window seal damage occurs, do I repair or replace?
Understanding your window warranty is the first step – how long the window is covered, whether the manufacturer will provide a replacement IGU if a seal breaks, and whether you’ll be on the hook to hire a contractor to replace this IGU, or if the manufacturer will send their own technicians to your home. If they determine that the damage occurred for reasons other than a defective product, your warranty may be void.
Once you know if you’re responsible for repairs or replacement, consider the extent of the damage and whether the rest of your window besides the seal is of high enough quality and value to justify a repair. In all likelihood, temporary solutions like defogging and caulking won’t be worth it. Replacing the IGU is often as costly as a full replacement.
That’s why hiring a contractor to install new windows is the best option in most cases – especially if you have older windows or two or more damaged windows. Investing in professional installation of the newest window technologies will help ensure long-lasting seals, increase energy efficiency, improve indoor air quality, and add surprising value and beauty to your home.
Keyprime’s expert window team can help. We know Minnesotan homes and weather, and we’ll find the best product for your needs – whether it be wood, clad, or the more popular vinyl windows. Contact us today for a free inspection.