When you live in a four-season climate, like the Midwest, you know that it’s vitally important to prepare for winter weather in advance. You’ve likely invested in a durable coat, practiced driving in slick conditions and stocked up on your favorite hot beverage to help you prepare for winter’s chilly mornings.
Your winter preparation should include home maintenance steps that reduce the risks of damage from freezes, precipitation and low temperatures. In addition to winterizing your air conditioning unit and gutters, you may also need to think about a less obvious, but vulnerable area, your windows.
In this blog, we list five threats to your windows that are created when temperatures plummet and snow starts to fall, and how you can prevent these common issues.
Winter conditions can dramatically change the moisture in and around your home. While cold temperatures and heated indoor air often have low humidity, the lack of moisture often means that showering, washing clothing and running a humidifier can have a more dramatic impact than usual.
Some condensation on your windows is normal, but if you notice large amounts of moisture or moisture gathered between the panes of dual pane windows, there may be an intrusion issue. Check for gaps in the weather stripping and cracks in the panes that may be letting in moisture.
In addition to condensation, gaps in the seal around a window can cause cold air drafts. Drafts may also occur if your window glass and frame are not appropriate for your climate.
If a room feels significantly colder near the window, check for gaps and cracks. You may need to replace the weather stripping or use caulk to close the vulnerable areas. If the drafts are caused by the quality of glass, you may need to replace the pane. Consider upgrading to a dual pane or insulated design.
3. Frame Rot
If you have wood window frames, they require regular maintenance in order to resist the effects of moisture and cold weather. Wood window frames are particularly vulnerable when damp and low temperatures occur simultaneously because the freeze can cause expansion and warping.
Additionally, if your frame stays wet over time, the moisture can lead to wood rot development. Rot weakens the frame which increases the amount of expansion and shrinkage that occurs during temperature changes, the risk of splitting and the chance of other issues like pest infestations.
If you are choosing new window frames for your cold-climate home, look for high-quality, durable materials treated to resist rot. If you choose wood frames, keep up with the necessary maintenance.
If you currently have wood windows, schedule an inspection each fall and each spring so you can anticipate and address any rot issues before they cause structural damage.
4. Heat Loss
Perhaps the most common window problem in the winter is excessive heat transfer. This transference is slightly different from drafts, which occur when air travels in or out around the window pane.
During heat transfer, thermal energy passes directly through the glass. This process means that your windows can create heat loss even if they don’t have any weather stripping issues. Single-pane uninsulated windows are most likely to have high amounts of heat transfer.
If you notice that your window panes are cool to the touch, start opening your curtains when the sun comes up and closing them as soon as the sunlight passes to conserve heat. You may also want to install window films or other coverings to conserve heat.
Using storm windows during the winter can also reduce heat transfer, especially if you have insulated storm windows.
For a long-term heat conservation solution, replace your inefficient window panes with glass designed specifically for your climate. Cold weather calls for a higher U-value glass. The U-value represents the heat transfer coefficient of the glass. A higher number means less heat travels through.
5. Ice Obstructions
Whether your home endures ice storms or just overnight freezes during the winter, your windows are at risk whenever ice forms. Ice obstructions can block your windows from opening and closing correctly, which can, in turn, pose a safety hazard since it would affect egress in an emergency.
Additionally, ice obstructions endanger your window panes and frames. As ice forms and melts, it may cause harmful shrinkage and expansion, as well as water damage. In extreme circumstances, ice can render hardware unusable or even crack the glass.
To minimize ice issues, keep the areas around your windows clear. Prioritize climate control that helps your glass panes stay at a warm enough temperature that no ice forms on them directly. Also, use the advice about condensation from section one to reduce the risk of ice obstructions forming from condensation moisture.
Use these guidelines to ensure that your windows stay beautiful, structurally sound and efficient no matter what the winter weather throws at them.
When you need replacement window glass or expert recommendations to protect your window investment, trust the professional team at Glasshopper Schor Glass. Give us a call today!