Windows can last 20 to 25 years, and by the end of their lifetime, can show various signs of deterioration. However, problems with your windows can be caused by other factors, like the humidity levels of your home. Our Renovation Advisors break down the 7 most common window problems and their causes for you!
1- Condensation on windows
Condensation forms with the contact between of hot air and a cold surface, in combination with humidity. This means a little condensation on your windows can appear without need for alarm. It may be that the window is only too cold compared to the rest of the house. Heating sources installed directly under windows is a good way to avoid this problem.
However, if the humidity level of your home is abnormally high, condensation will continuously form because of the difference in temperatures between the inside and outside of your house. If this is the case, other things in your home will also fall victim to this type of condensation. This could include pipes, the roof or even exterior walls. If condensation is persistent on your windows, check to see if there are humidity stains on the walls. High humidity issues need to be taken seriously because they can lead to the growth of mold. High humidity may be caused by an excessively damp basement.
Start with establishing if the humidity level of your house is average or high. You’ll need a hygrometer to do this. If you have an air exchanger, check to see if it has a dehumidifying function, and this will allow for the humidity levels to be regulated automatically. However, if the problem comes from a water infiltration in the basement, the roof or the walls, it must be fixed at the source to avoid causing structural issues. In this case, major renovations may be required. See the table below to know what the recommended humidity level is based on the outside temperature:
2- Ice on the bottom of the windows
In winter months, it is possible to see ice form at the bottom of your window. Other than a high level of humidity, poor installation of the window can also be the cause. To save on costs, some installers will simply insert the new window in the old frame. If the frame is not properly resealed, cold air will find its way into the frame, and ice will form. Check that the frame is in good condition and well sealed to avoid such problems.
3- Air infiltration around the windows
Air infiltration can also be an issue if you have ineffective window casings. Windows casings are designed to help seal cold air currents out, and keep warm air in. If you feel a cold air current when you put your hand near the window frame, it’s likely that the window casing is damaged. This can lead to energy loss, which will ultimately lead to a hike in your heating bill. If your windows are still in good condition, correctly caulking your casings would be a sufficient solution.
4- Water infiltration under the window
Cracked caulking joints caused by UV rays and changes in temperature can let water in. Even though it may take years for this problem to be visible to the naked eye, it is certainly not a negligible issue. While Mother Nature can be the cause, poorly applied caulking can also be the source of water infiltration. There must be sufficient caulking to cover both the exterior wall and the window frame. The minimum width should be 16 mm, and the thickness should be 12 mm.
Another cause of water infiltration is that the protective devices put in place have been improperly installed. To ensure a maximum watertightness of the window, it is necessary to have flashings which are made of one solid piece. They must also have a 6% slope, extend beyond the siding, have a secondary membrane of sealing, among other things. In short, a window installation may seem easy, however, there are plenty of details to consider for the installation to be done well. Proper installation is essential to ensure the longevity of the structural integrity of your home.
5- Difficult opening and closing of the window
It can be frustrating to have to struggle with an old mechanism in order to get a window open. If this is the case for you, it may be as simple as having an old window that needs replacing. Because of its frequent use, it’s possible that the frame has warped over time, making it hard to open and close. If you have crank windows, it’s important to not force the closure by closing it too tightly. Close the window and let the locking mechanism close it the rest of the way. If your windows are relatively new, get the ineffective pieces replaced or repaired.
6- Deterioration of a wood window frame
In older homes, it is common to see wooden frames around windows. These are more likely to deteriorate from exposure to weather or insects more than PVC or aluminum frames. They will have even less of a lifespan if they are subjected to a lot of condensation or water infiltration. Bubbles and cracks in the finish may form, paint may peel or even worse, mold may settle. At this stage, a single layer of paint is not enough to protect the wood!
7- Fogged double- or triple-pane windows
Another problem that can occur, though less common nowadays, is that the rubber window seal deteriorates and moisture gets in between the double panes of your window, creating permanent fogging. If your windows are fitted with an aluminum spacer, fogging is much more likely than with PVC, and can cause thermal bridges, leading to condensation. In addition to obstructing your view, a double-pane window with fogging is not as well insulated.
Be mindful of companies that claim they can defog your windows. The holes that would be drilled into the bottom of the window would essentially turn them into single-pane windows. This means a decrease in their efficiency. This is a temporary solution, because while it allows better air flow and reduces fog, it does not treat the source of the problem. Opt instead to change the thermal barrier. By selecting low-emission glass, you’ll protect more efficiently against ultraviolet light and reflect heat.
Repair or replace?
Sometimes, repairing the seals, changing the defective mechanism or reducing your home’s overall humidity levels can fix the issue with your windows. However, if your windows are too old or you’re dealing with mold, repairing is likely a temporary solution. If you have mold, it’s important to find the source of the problem quickly, as mold is bad for your health as well as your home’s.
Replacing inefficient windows is also essential to help reduce your energy usage, especially if you are experiencing issues with air infiltration. According to Hydro-Quebec, choosing energy-efficient windows can help you reduce your energy costs by 10%. If you’re thinking of getting them, you may be able to take advantage of the Canada Greener Homes Grant to give your renovations a boost.
Why hire a window installation specialist?
Aluminum, PVC, hybrid, double or triple-glazed windows, casement, sliding…There are tons of choices when it comes to choosing your type of window! A window and doors contractor will know which types of windows are best for your home, depending on the climate of your area. In addition, a contractor familiar with your sector will be able to tell you whether you need a permit or not. They will know what standards must be respected regarding ventilation, security, natural lighting, and even the appearance of doors and windows. A large investment like replacing windows requires careful installation and quality.
Get quotes from qualified contractors for your windows
Ready to install new doors and windows? We understand the difficulties that come with finding a reliable and high-quality contractor for your project, so let us take away that stress! Our Renovation Advisors can invite up to three Verified Contractors to submit quotes for your renovation and help you decide which one brings the most value to you. Call us today or fill out our form to get started!
**Note that our contractors do exclusively complete replacements of windows and doors, they do not do repairs.