Broken glass, damaged frames, rotted weather stripping. There are many home window repairs that you can DIY with relatively few tools and not too much effort.
Windows, the Eyes of the Home
Windows are an extremely important feature of the home. If they are damaged, they aren’t functioning well, and they are ultimately costing you more money in energy bills.
Ugly or bad windows greatly affect a home’s resale value. Any cracks or visible damage will be a strong deterrent to any buyer and can decrease the price you can expect to bring in for your property.
Luckily, there are many DIY repairs that any homeowner can learn how to perform to fix common window problems and repair average wear and tear that occurs over time. With some simple repairs, windows will look and function much better and end up saving you money or increasing your home’s overall value.
DIY Home Window Repairs
Many types of window damage and just standard wear and tear can lead to energy loss that increases your utility bills or simply make your windows look bad. Perform DIY repairs to fix these problems without replacing the entire window and without spending a ton of time and money on the project.
If the paint on your windows is chipped and peeling, this is a super easy fix. Start by scraping away the old paint and then add a new coat of primer and paint.
Use exterior paint or window paint, which is formulated to be more weather-resistant. Paint designed for outdoor use is optimized to handle moisture and temperature changes, much more so than interior paint.
A fresh coat of paint on the windows can make a huge difference. Take this chance to change the color of your window trim, perhaps to something that will really pop against your home’s exterior.
Small scratches are just a little problem but they are unsightly and potential homebuyers don't like them. There are actually several methods to repair shallow window scratches that are all fairly simple.
Clean the window with liquid dish soap and water and let it dry. Place a dime-sized drop of toothpaste on a damp rag and wipe it over the scratches with small, circular motions.
Rub the toothpaste in for about 30 seconds. Wipe the toothpaste off with a clean rag and polish the window.
Small scratches are a relatively easy fix. However, bigger cracks can be repaired with simple fixes as well.
Window Sash Replacement
If a pane of the window is cracked or broken, it's a huge problem. This breakage can create energy loss and it becomes unsightly if you do a temporary repair, such as placing cardboard over the window.
A single-pane window can be replaced with new glass, but this process is fairly intense. It is often easier to replace the entire window sash, something you will have to do if the broken window is double-glazed or double-paned.
A window sash kit contains the top and bottom sashes of the window. Get the right size window sash by measuring the height and width of the window.
On a wood window, cut the edges of the window stop, the vertical strip that holds the window in place. Pry it off the window, carefully, with a small prybar.
Search for the rope attached to the iron cylinder that serves as the window weight, which is inside a hidden cavity. You can attempt to remove the weight or simply cut the rope and let the weight fall into the cavity.
New sash replacement kits will have a coil spring to replace the weighted system.
If the window is vinyl, aluminum, or fiberglass, the sash will already have a spring-balanced system. To remove the sash here, depress the outermost flexible track.
Pull inward, putting pressure at the top of the sash. When one half of the sash is removed, the other half will come out.
Visible Chips and Damage
If your wood window is visibly chipped, scratched, and damaged, this is normally due to pretty standard wear and tear and most of it can be fixed.
Use penetrating liquid epoxy on windows that have been damaged by water. Fill in all holes, chips, and scratches with epoxy putty.
Once the epoxy is dry, the window can be primed and painted.
Windows that are not made with wood can be repaired with caulk. Any cracks or holes can be sealed this way, whether your windows are aluminum, vinyl, or some other material.
Replace Weather Stripping
Remove the window sash and cut old weatherstripping with a utility knife so it can be peeled off the window. Press new weatherstripping into the groove of the window.
You will hear a click as you press the weatherstripping into place. Spray silicone lubricant on a rag and wipe it on the weatherstripping.
Once the weatherstripping has been replaced, put the sash back in. You will notice a decrease in your energy bills once bad weatherstripping is replaced.
Fix a Crack
If you have some small cracks in the glass of the window, replacing an entire pane of glass or the whole sash is...a bit much. Use a glass epoxy to fill the crack and repair the glass.
Apply the epoxy directly to the crack with a putty knife. Let it sit for five minutes.
Scrape away excess epoxy with a razor blade, then wipe the repaired area with a cloth dampened with acetone. Let the glass cure for 24 hours before you do anything else.
Polish the glass with standard glass cleaner to see how the repair looks.
Replacing the Caulk
Over time, caulk gets old and can break up and chip away. It will develop cracks and no longer be an effective seal around your windows.
Replacing old caulk on the interior and exterior around windows can make a huge difference if the caulk has become old and cracked, and chipped. You will be creating a new seal around windows that will make them more energy efficient.
Use a putty knife to scrape away all the old caulk. Placing new caulk on top of old will do no good, as the new caulk will simply flake off with the old stuff as it breaks down.
Once the old caulk is removed, run a continuous bead of caulk all the way around the window frame where it meets the house. Use two hands on the caulking gun and work steadily, slowly, and precisely.
Smooth down the caulk after it is applied. Work in small sections at a time to get a clean look.
Use the right caulk in the right places. Use exterior caulk for the outside and use caulk that is compatible with your home material, such as using masonry caulk on brick.
Use paintable latex caulk on interior windows and choose one that is waterproof and mold-resistant.
Broken glass is a big issue, and it's one that many homeowners must face. You don't have to replace the entire window because of one broken pane of glass.
Remove the broken window carefully and wear gloves throughout the entirety of this project. Use a scraper or maybe even a chisel to remove metal glazing points, putty, and pieces of glass still left in the frame.
Pry any molding off with a small pry bar and scrape away all the old caulk as well. You need to start with a smooth, clean frame.
Wire-brush the entire frame and wipe it down with a damp rag. Apply a thin, even coat of linseed oil around the frame.
Measure the height and width of the pane opening to make it as accurate as possible. Subtract 1/8 inch from each measurement to get a correct measurement for the glass.
Press a ball of glazing compound into a thin piece of rope and press it into the corner of the rabbet, the step-shaped recess cut into the edge of the frame. Press it firmly into place with a putty knife.
Place the pane of glass into the window frame, making sure it is flush against the rabbet.
Press a glazing point into the wood every 6 inches all the way around the glass, starting from the middle of the frame.
Roll out another putty rope and press it around the edges of the glass. Press against the rope as you go all the way around the frame.
Apply linseed oil to a putty knife or glazier's knife and use this to press down the putty as you apply it. Pless the knife firmly against the putty as you go to create a smooth finish.
Work slowly and precisely through every single step to ensure the new pane of glass is perfectly placed. If it is off even a little bit, you will get air leaks that are just as bad or even worse than the cracked window glass.
Can Home Windows Be Repaired?
There are many DIY home window repairs you can perform yourself, even if you aren't a glass expert or home repair specialist. Even beginning DIYers can perform window repair tasks that will make windows look better and seal out the weather even more effectively.
Window Repair FAQ
Can foggy windows be repaired?
Double-paned windows can develop a "foggy" look that indicates condensation is trapped between the two panes of glass. Because these panes are designed to be permanently sealed, only a professional can repair foggy double-paned windows.
Foggy double-paned windows are only foggy because the seal between the panes has been compromised, so this is not a simple repair. Often, this means the entre sash or entire window must be replaced.
When should windows be replaced instead of repaired?
If you're experiencing a lot of water leakage around windows, they most likely need to be completely replaced. Major leaking and structural issues are not easy repairs, and in most cases, repairs are only a temporary fix for these large problems.
Any window that has excessive damage will need to be replaced, rather than repaired. As you examine the window, you will get a sense of how damaged it is and whether or not you should attempt a repair or get the entire window replaced.
How long should home windows last?
Windows, when installed brand-new, will last between 15 to 30 years until they need to be replaced. The life of your windows depends on a number of factors, not the least of which is the weather conditions your windows face due to your geographic location.
How much goes repairing windows cost?
Doing the repairs yourself is also a highly affordable alternative to hiring a professional. A professional will charge by the hour, as well as charging for all the materials used.
You can do the work yourself and buy the materials yourself and still save a ton of money, compared to hiring a professional. Many window repairs can be performed by even a beginning DIYer with any level of home improvement skill.
How much does window repair cost?
The cost of your window repair can fluctuate greatly, depending on the type of repair you're doing. Common window repair materials, such as epoxy and caulk, are relatively affordable.
New panes of glass, however, are a little bit more expensive, as are window sash kits that are used to replace a sash.
However, even the most costly of window repairs will be more affordable than replacing the entire window by far. You will save a great deal of money with window repair rather than resorting to a window replacement.
On average, window repair can cost less than $50 to as much as $500, depending on the type of repairs you're doing. If you are repairing multiple windows, this price will increase.
The national cost of window replacement, by contrast, is $750 per window. This price goes up for double-paned windows, which are more expensive.