How To Repair Window Leaks | Should I Repair or Replace?

How To Repair Window Leaks | Should I Repair or Replace?

January 17, 2020
Martin Whitmore, President of US Window & Door
repair window leaks

Window leaks are an issue that shouldn’t be ignored as water is incredibly corrosive to a home and can lead to severe structural as well as aesthetic damage, mold development, and other problems. In this article, we’ll cover how to detect leaks in your windows and whether you should fix the leak or replace the window.

Most people associate rainy weather with relaxation and watching the gentle shower from the comfort of their warm home. For others, rain means gathering towels and buckets to mop up the water that leaks through their windows. Even the smallest window leak is a serious issue. If you don’t address it immediately, it’s bound to cause structural damage, mold, rot, as well as increase your heating and cooling bills.

Water damage can be a difficult and expensive thing to repair since water can greatly undermine the integrity of your home by rusting and weakening metal parts of the foundation. Drywall damage and mold development are just as severe. Mold can grow inside walls for a long time before you even notice it’s there. Exposure to mold is tied to a variety of health concerns, from respiratory, eye and skin irritation to lung disease in severe cases. With that said, you should deal with a water leak as soon as you notice it. Inspecting and removing the leak right away might save you from costly repairs later on.

Top Causes for Leaking Windows

There are many reasons why your windows might leak. The most common one is age. Buildings settle over time as certain materials shrink and expand from being exposed to varying temperatures and weather conditions. This can shift a window frame that was once airtight  to one that now has gaps. A few things in this world last forever and windows aren’t one of them. Years or even decades of exposure to the elements along with normal wear and tear can damage window frames, break the glazing seals, caulking, etc. Finding the cause of a leak is essential in determining whether a simple fix or a window replacement is the right way to go. Here are several reasons why your windows may be leaking:

♦ Poor installation

The number one cause of leaks is poor window installation. It doesn’t matter how efficient and pretty your windows might be, a bad installation is a waste of time and money that will sooner or later lead to more problems. The most common window installation errors are improperly installed flashing and using house wrap or building paper instead of specially designed window flashing that’s waterproof. This makes water seep into the paper as well as the wall area around your window.

♦ Windows that are not plumb or level

When it comes to window installation, this is by far the most common issue. A window that’s not level will collect and accumulate water over time. This issue is easily detected by placing a level on your window and determining whether it’s installed properly or not.

♦ Improper window sealing

Most modern windows are sealed with expanding foam. If the foam is used properly, you’ll never have to worry about leaks. Using less foam than required creates air channels between the window and the wall. This will eventually cause water to leak through. When it comes to sealing windows, accurate measurement is essential to make sure your custom windows fit perfectly into the opening. If your windows are too small, filling the gap properly with foam will be impossible.

♦ Poor caulking

Bad or damaged caulking can also cause leaks. If caulking is broken or missing on your window’s flange and/or seams, a water buildup is inevitable. Fortunately, recaulking is fairly simple and doesn’t require any significant investments.

♦ Improper glass sealing

If you notice leaks inside your window, between the glass panes, that means your glass sealing is bad. Although this doesn’t necessarily lead to water leaks, it means your windows have lost their insulating gas. The purpose of insulating gas (argon or krypton) is enhancing the thermal performance of your window. Compromised glass sealing means this gas is no longer present and your window is a lot less energy-efficient compared to when it was new.

♦ No paint sealing

A great way to check if your windows are properly sealed is via a paint seal. You can do this by moderately overlapping the paint onto the glass. The keyword here is “moderately” because nobody wants paint on their windows. It may sound strange, but the paint cover from the molding onto the glass creates a seal that protects it from moisture.

♦ Home design

In certain cases you need to take a step back and examine how your home was designed. Make sure your home is equipped with overhangs as they drain water from the roof and protect the lower levels of the building. Overhangs will also protect your windows from wind-driven rain. Another thing to keep an eye out for is badly placed fascia boards. In case they’re improperly angled above your windows, they can also cause leaking. Angle the fascia boards outward to turn water away from your windows.

♦ Possible wall leaks

In certain cases there’s a chance that your leaks are not caused by faulty windows at all. If you notice stains at the top parts of your window frames, check your walls for any gaps or cracks to make sure your walls aren’t leaking.

♦ Defective products

Although it’s not a common cause of window leaks, a defective product shouldn’t be ignored. There are several reasons why you might end up with a defective window, from an error in the manufacturing process to poor handling during shipping and installation. In this case, replacement is the only true solution. Check if your windows are still under warranty.

How to repair window leaks

Repair vs. Replacement

Now that we’ve covered the most common causes of window leaks, it’s obvious that not all of them are the same. The best way to deal with the problem depends on the cause and its severity. A repair may be as simple as weatherstripping replacement or as complicated as rebuilding a whole rotten wooden wall. There are certain simple fixes you can do, such as:

♦ removing damaged caulking, cleaning the frame of your window and recaulking

♦ checking the gasket between the frame and the glass, resealing the glass to the gasket with silicone caulk

♦ cleaning any dirt and debris from the bottom of the window frame and unplugging any holes if they exist, as this will allow all incoming water to drain

In case the leak goes beyond the actual window and has affected the area around it, the best way forward is to contact experienced window installation professionals for an assessment and a full window replacement. Replacing windows may be more expensive than a quick fix, but it’s the most thorough solution to your problems. Window replacement professionals will be able to identify the source of the leak and repair any damage around the frame. As we mentioned above, even though water may be coming from your window, the cause may be a larger structural issue.

Picking the Right Window Replacement

In most cases, when an old window starts to leak, it means it’s time to replace it. This is especially true for wooden frames since wood is extremely susceptible to warping from water damage along with exposure to changing temperatures and the elements. If you’re replacing your old windows, you have an opportunity to select a more durable and weather-resistant material, such as:

♦ vinyl

♦ fiberglass

♦ aluminum

The cost for most of these materials may indeed be higher upfront, but all of them are a lot more durable than wood, require less maintenance (if any), and last much longer than a quick fix. Here are some of the key benefits of these materials:

Vinyl Replacement Windows

Affordable, energy-efficient and featuring fantastic resistance to moisture, vinyl is a great choice for replacement windows. Homeowners in San Diego choose vinyl window frames for their durability and stability. Vinyl is formed together with heat-welded joints to make the window resistant to harsh weather changes. These windows also offer fantastic energy efficiency, meeting or exceeding ENERGY STAR® requirements. It’s also important to note that vinyl is relatively inexpensive and requires minimal amounts of maintenance. US Window & Door proudly sells and installs vinyl windows manufactured by Milgard. These windows are architecturally elegant and sound, with three internal and eleven external color options to choose from. If you’re looking for top-of-the-line vinyl windows in San Diego, Milgard’s vinyl windows professionally installed by US Window & Door are the solution for you.

Fiberglass and Composite Replacement Windows

Incredibly durable and featuring a stunning design combined with fantastic versatility, fiberglass windows are a fairly new option on the market. People choose fiberglass windows because of their endurance and longevity, knowing very well they’re going to stand the test of time and be reliable for decades. US Window & Door sells and installs fantastic fiberglass windows from Milgard. These stunning windows offer various combinations of styles, colors, and grids to fit any San Diego design. Each fiberglass window is equipped with SunCoat® Low-E insulated glass to regulate the temperature inside your home while keeping out damaging UV rays. If you’re considering fiberglass windows, Milgard’s products offer unmatched durability and comfort.

Aluminum Replacement Windows

If your finances are a limiting factor, aluminum windows make a great budget option without any compromises in durability or longevity. These frames provide a modern look while still looking great on homes with a more traditional design. Aluminum is ideal if you’re looking to replace larger windows as it’s three times stronger than vinyl and more than forty times stronger than wood. US Window & Door proudly sells and installs high-quality windows from Milgard’s Aluminum series. In addition to the standard models, Milgard also offers thermally improved aluminum windows with increased energy efficiency. These windows contain a thermal barrier between the exterior and interior glass panels that reduces heat transfer to a minimum.

Choose the Best

In the end, it’s important to keep in mind that no window lasts forever. There’s no better protection from leaking windows than proper installation and moisture-resistant materials. If you’re replacing windows, it’s also important to check the manufacturer’s reputation and warranty to avoid any problems later on. Milgard’s Full Lifetime Warranty is unparalleled in the industry, promising to replace or repair any defects in material, as well as cover the costs of all parts and labor as long as the buyer is the homeowner. Milgard also provides glass breakage coverage for certain product lines. All these benefits provide peace of mind for you and eliminate any future concerns you may have over replacement or repairs.

US Window & Door is a reliable, insured, independent family business and one of the oldest exclusive window and door replacement companies in Southern California. We’ve spent over 30 years honing our skills when it comes to window installation and replacement. We only work with the best material and highest quality models on the market while adhering to all industry standards. That’s the only way to be sure our products will last for decades to come. Our team is fully licensed, so we guarantee a smooth purchase and an installation process that has been refined and improved over three decades. On top of that, you get the assistance of an AMMA-certified installer that doesn’t rely on the work of subcontractors to get the job done. After all, our customer reviews speak for themselves.

Contact us at any time if you have questions, feel free to request an online quote to get started or call for a free in-home evaluation and estimate for your window replacement and installation.