House & Home

6 Window Frame Repair Tips

Posted January 2, 2015

Besides their primary purpose -- holding the window glass in place -- your window frames help to insulate your home. Normally a long-life item which may last you 30 years or more, window frames can, however, deteriorate due to lack of care and exposure to severe weather conditions. To keep them in good shape and extend their useful life, inspect your frames periodically and fix any problems as soon as they come up. Wooden frames, especially, require regular maintenance. You’ll find that minor window frame repair jobs are often surprisingly easy to take care of yourself.

1. Peeling Paint. Scrape and sand the frame. Make sure the surface is clean, dust-free and dry. Then prime with a high quality acrylic primer. Top with an exterior paint made by the same manufacturer as the primer. Latex paint is preferable to enamel because it allows moisture to escape. Avoid painting over movable parts of the frame. TIP: Preserve wooden window frames by repainting them every 3-5 years.

2. Compound Loss. Old wooden frames use glazing compound to hold the glass in place. If sections of the compound are loose or cracked, scrape them out. Prime the surface and apply fresh putty to repair the window frame. After allowing the compound to dry, paint to seal its seam with the windowpane.

3. Jamming. Damp, humid, or stormy weather may cause minor swelling of your wooden window frames, leading to jams. If they continue to be difficult to open even when the days are dry, fix your window frames by cleaning thoroughly and applying a household lubricant or silicone spray. When painting window frames, be careful not to apply an overly thick coat, to minimize future jamming problems.

4. Rot. Wooden window frames need to be checked occasionally for signs of rot. The treatment necessary depends on the severity of the decay. The good news for you and your wallet is that in many cases, rotten window frames can be repaired and do not need to be replaced altogether. (However, if more than 10 percent of the frame has rotted, window frame replacement may well be your best option.) For a DIY window frame repair, take out the rotted section of the wood with a chisel or screwdriver or for larger areas, a saw. Cut away at least 2 additional centimeters, to ensure that only sound wood remains. Remove all debris and dust, leaving the damaged site clean. Small spots can be mended with epoxy wood filler. Larger holes should be patched with a piece of wood cut to size. Glue the piece in place and coat both frame and patch with wood preservative. After the glue has completely dried, sand and fill in any gaps or cracks with wood filler. Dry, sand, and paint as described in Tip #1 (above).

5. Drafts. If your window frames are allowing cold or hot air into your home, your home’s energy efficiency will be reduced, resulting in a less comfortable environment and increased utility bills. Check the frames’ rubber seals and replace any that are worn out. This will also prevent moisture penetration.

6. Cracks and Holes in uPVC Frames. Unplasticized polyvinyl chloride (uPVC) frames tend to be quite durable. However, if they do develop cracks or holes, you can repair uPVC window frames with PVC gap filler, which comes in resin or powder form.

Laura Firszt writes for

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