What's the point of a window if you can't see through it? With proper maintenance, you can have clean, structurally sound windows and rooms with a view all year long. Here are 10 tips to maximize the lifespan of your windows:
1. For sparkling glass on windows, use a light combination of vinegar and water. You can also use a mild detergent. Never wash windows or doors with a high-pressure spray. The extreme pressure could crack or destroy caulking. Instead, take time to individually clean the windows. For vinyl-framed windows, a soft cloth or an ordinary long-handled soft bristle brush may be all that's necessary. Do not use abrasive cleaners that may scratch the frame or glass.
2. On vinyl windows and door frames, try Fantastik cleaner to clean such stains as bubble gum, felt-tip pens, lipstick, motor oil or top soil. For tougher stains, such as tar and pencil and oil marks, use Soft Scrub. If children decide to draw on the windows with crayon, Lestoil can often remove their creative efforts.
3. Vacuum around the edges of a window's weather stripping to remove any dirt build-up. Carefully vacuum window screens regularly instead of removing them and cleaning with soap and water.
4. Recycle old hole-ridden socks and use them for cleaning window sills and frames. Slip the socks on your hands and "feel your way" toward a cleaner window.
5. Never insert nails or screws in the interior or exterior of a window frame to hold up holiday decorations or lights. Don't tamper with window frames because they can lose their ability to function properly. There's also the chance that something inserted in the frame could compromise the energy efficiency of the window or even puncture the waterproof channel of the frame.
6. If the window glass gets broken, do not replace the glass yourself. Some windows have Insulated Glass Units (IGUs) that contain harmless Argon gas that helps in the window's energy efficiency. Order and install a replacement unit that perfectly matches the original window.
7. If there's brass hardware on your windows, use a dry, clean, soft cotton cloth to remove dust and dirt from the protective lacquer coating on the hardware. Over time, all brass hardware develops tarnish when the protective coating breaks down. When this happens, remove the hardware from the window and use fine steel wool soaked in a light oil or soapy water on the hardware. Restore the clean hardware's luster with polish and then apply several coatings of a quality automobile wax.
8. Condensation, or "sweating," is natural on all windows and is caused by excess humidity in the air. When this water vapor contacts a surface with a cooler temperature, the vapor turns to droplets. Simonton windows, for example, have features built in to keep the glass temperature as warm as possible and thus reduce condensation. However, there are no condensation-free windows in high humidity conditions. To avoid condensation, control the amount of moisture in your home.
9. Twice a year, thoroughly wash the exterior frames of windows, including sills that are exposed within your home closest to the screens. Remove bugs or dirt that accumulate.
10. To remove the dirt that may build up on window edges and corners, use Q-tips dipped in vinegar. Make sure to thoroughly rinse with water afterwards.
Did you know . . .
You can repair a small hole in a window screen by pushing the weave back together and sealing it with clear nail polish to keep out small insects.
Tilt-in double-hung windows eliminate the need to clean windows from the outside. Simply tilt into the room, clean and then lock back in place.
House plants, bathrooms, kitchens and laundry rooms can all increase your home's humidity level. To reduce the humidity, use fans and a dehumidifier.
Christopher Burk is a product manager with Simonton Windows, a leading manufacturer of high-quality vinyl windows and patio doors.