How to Repair Vinyl Windows

A set of four windows with vinyl frames.
  • 24-48 hours
  • Advanced
  • 200-400
What You'll Need
Replacement window glass
Replacement balance cartridge
Work gloves
Silicone caulking
Isopropyl alcohol
Utility knife
Vinyl jamb liner

Vinyl window frames became popular sometime in the 1990s, so if you have a house that is not more than two decades old, chances are good that your frames are also made of vinyl. Or, if you've upgraded in recent years to more energy-efficient dual pane windows, you also likely have frames made from this material. Vinyl frames offer a number of advantages over aluminum framed windows, but what do you do when something breaks? Here’s how you can go about repairing some of the damage yourself.

Step 1 - Order Replacement Parts

If the glass has broken, you will have to order some new glass panes. Make sure that they are exactly the same size as the previous panes, otherwise you will really have to struggle to fit them in. The best way to ensure your new ones fit is to note the dimensions given on the existing pane and order an exact replacement.

If it is just the locking arrangement that is broken, you can either replace the entire jamb liner piece or simply replace the broken balance cartridge, depending on your skill level.

Step 2 - Remove Outer Sash

Before you can carry out any repair work on the vinyl window, you will have to remove the outer sash that holds the window in place. You may also have to cut some stops depending on your specific design.

Step 3 - Replace the Glass Panes

Glass panes for vinyl windows usually come in the form of integrated glass units. Once you have received the replacement, all you have to do is slide it into place until it locks.

If you are not replacing the entire sliding pane, but just the glass itself, you will have to make sure to remove all old traces of glass and sealant from the sliding frames first. Wear thick work gloves to protect your hands from the broken glass; although these pieces will be thicker and less dangerous, it's better to stay safe.

Then, once the new glass is in, seal it with a thin layer of silicone caulking around the edges. Use a cloth dabbed in isopropyl alcohol to remove any stains or finger marks from the glass before it has a chance to dry. The silicone caulking will take approximately 24 hours to cure. Simply slide the pane into the window afterward and you're finished.

Step 4 - Install the Jamb Liner

If you are replacing the vinyl jamb liner or a broken balance cartridge, follow the instructions given in step two to prepare the window. After the sliding panes are off, remove the broken jamb liner by snapping it out of the window sill with a utility knife. Now simply replace this broken jamb liner with the new one and refit it into place. Secure the screws that hold it and your window’s sliding arrangement should be as good as new. Keep in mind that the exact method may vary depending on the design of your window.

Replacing a balance cartridge will, again, take more specific instruction that will vary by window design. Seek out information from your window manufacturer for this task.