This past winter produced record snowfalls and cold temperatures for many parts of the U.S. The gradual thawing of built-up snow and ice may have exposed your home’s exterior, particularly your windows and doors, to damp conditions for a prolonged period of time. You may have also experienced cold drafts from some of your windows. This can be a sign of worn weather-stripping or deteriorated exterior caulking. Spring is a great time to inspect your existing windows and doors to ensure proper operation and resistance to air and moisture infiltration. Below is a quick checklist of things to look for:
- Inspect the caulking around the exterior of your windows/doors for cracks, breaks or separation. If sections are damaged or missing, it’s advisable to replace all the caulking in that area. Remove the old caulking, clean the surface area and apply a new bead of silicone caulking to create a good seal between the your windows (or doors) and your home’s exterior.
- If you have wood windows or patio doors, make sure the exterior wood is free of rot and is protected with paint or stain meant for exterior usage. Paint that’s chipping or peeling should be cleaned off and the surface repainted to prevent moisture penetration.
- Ensure your windows and doors are free of mold and mildew, which can be caused by prolonged exposure to damp conditions. Use cleaning products that won’t stain, scar or damage the materials used in the construction of your existing windows and doors.
- Clean the sills of windows and patio doors to remove built-up dirt and debris. This is particularly important for sliding patio doors to ensure problem-free operation.
- Check that window screens fit properly and are free of holes or tears. If you have a damaged screen, your local hardware store can help with replacing the existing screen with new screen material.
- Check that existing weather-stripping is plush and undamaged to minimize air infiltration. Replacement weather-stripping can be purchased at most hardware stores and is easy to install.
- If you have double-hung windows, make sure you can easily lift the sash and that it remains in place once opened. If the sash starts to drift back down or requires significant force to lift, a problem with the existing balance system may need to be addressed.
- Check that window/door hardware—like handles, cranks and locks—are operating properly and are not loose. If necessary, the manufacturer of your windows/doors should be able to provide replacement parts or instruct you on where to get them.
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