How to Fix Common Window Problems


Replacing windows and doors in the home can be expensive. Running into thousands of dollars for replacements. With a little labor most homeowners can fix window problems and restore them to proper working order. Minor problems such as drafts, rattles, even broken window frames can be fixed without special skills using common woodworking tools.

1. Window problems: a quick overview of window parts

There are three basic parts of a window: 1) the windowpanes or pane; which are glass panels of a window, 2) the muntins; those small strips of wood separating the windowpanes, 3) the sash; which is the outside frame that holds the muntins and windowpanes in place.

2. Repairing a stuck window

Double hung sashes need to be removed from the window frame.
• Remove the trim pieces and lift out the window frame
• Sand or plane the left and right edges allowing the sash to move freely in the frame
• Prime and paint the edges and reinstall the sash
• Reinstall the trim

Windows with hinges need the hinges removed, cleaned and lubricated.
• Open the sash and remove the hinges
• Scrub the hinges to clean, lubricate with WD-40 or other rust inhibitor
• Reinstall the hinges

3. Caulk a drafty window

Drafty windows are usually caused by the caulk deteriorating in wet weather or exposure to the elements.
• Remove old caulk; apply caulk remover, then scrape with a putty or utility knife
• Clean the area with a sponge and soapy water, dry with a clean rag
• Use a caulk gun and apply an even stream of caulk around the window
• When caulk is dry, prime and touch up with exterior paint

4. Replace a pane of glass

Most homeowners can repair a sash with a broken pane.
• Wear gloves and safety glasses
• Remove glazing compound around the broken pane with a putty or utility knife
• Carefully remove the broken pieces of glass
• Clean and sand the muntin surrounding the pane
• Cut a paper or cardboard template as a pattern for the new pane
• Carefully mark the new glass with a black marker, use the template as a guide
• Cut the new pane of glass with a glass cutter
• Install the new pane with glaziers points
• Install new glazing compound; roll it into a string, press into position with a putty knife
• When dry, prime and touch up with exterior paint

5. Repair a sliding window

Many times sliding windows simply need the tracks cleaned of dirt and debris.
• Clean the window track with a stiff brush
• Use steel wool or carburundum or aluminum oxide sandpaper to repair small nicks
• Clean the track with a small nozzle attached to a vacuum
• Sashes out of alignment can be moved by removing the track screws
• Tap the track with a hammer and block of wood to move the track into position
• Re-assemble the track and sash

6. Repair a broken sash

Window sashes or frames can be repaired several ways. If a corner has split off and the broken piece has been saved, it can be reattached by using waterproof wood glue or liquid nails.
• Clean both surfaces of the break
• Apply glue, clamp in place with a pony clamp, or pipe clamp
• Sand the surface of the sash, prime and paint with exterior paint
• If the broken piece is not available, remove the sash from the window frame
• Carefully build up the broken area with wood putty
• Block sand the surfaces to match the broken piece
• Prime and paint with exterior paint

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