Now that fall is officially here, it’s a good time for homeowners to check each of their windows to ensure they don’t have an air or water leak that could reduce energy efficiency during the winter. Unfortunately, it takes only a tiny leak to cause damage to a window frame. This will eventually start the rotting process that can destroy the entire structure. It’s much easier for homeowners to contain the damage when they spot and correct it early.

How to Conduct a Physical Inspection of Windows

The first step in completing a visual inspection of windows is to shut all of them. This is true even if the homeowner only intends to check one window because air flow from other open windows could cause inaccurate results. If the window has a lock, pull the lock tight to create a tight seal around the window.

Homeowners should also turn off the furnace or air conditioner when visually inspecting windows. Waiting for the HVAC system to cycle down will provide the most accurate results because it’s important not to have additional air flow. That means homeowners should turn off all fans as well.

Now it’s time to grab a candle or lighter and hold it up to the edges or perimeter of the window. It’s a sure sign of a leaky window if the flame of the candle or lighter starts to flicker or the smokes blows away from rather than towards the window. Homeowners need to be extremely careful holding a flame near windows with curtains or any other material that could catch on fire.

Inspecting Windows Visually

Visually checking windows from the inside and outside provides additional information on whether they are leaking and need repair. From the inside, homeowners should pull back all window treatments and look for signs of daylight coming through other parts of the home where it shouldn’t enter. If the wind blows drapes or curtains even slightly, it could indicate a small gap that could allow warm air to escape this winter.

When standing outside of the window, homeowners should again look for any gaps in the window frames. The cracks could be in the caulking as well as the sides, top, or bottom of each window. With a single-paned window, cracked putty between the panes is the most obvious sign of an air or water leak.

Repairing a Leaky Window

While it can be disappointing to find an air or water leak, fixing it is not complicated. The homeowner should start by reapplying caulking material to the outside of the window if he or she discovered problems there. The temperature outside should be above 45 degrees and the humidity low for the best results. Reapplying putty can also be a quick and easy fix.

If All Else Fails, Replace the Window

Window replacement can be the best option for homeowners who don’t have the time or desire to fix windows. Others may feel that replacing them would make more sense than hiring someone to repair them. Opting for double-paned windows with a high energy efficiency rating can help keep houses warm and heating costs as low as possible. Professional installation can also increase the efficiency of new windows.

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