Nothing lasts forever, and windows are no exception. While modern windows are designed to last up to 10 or more years, eventually time takes a toll. This usually occurs in the failing of the window seal that prevent moisture laden air from getting in between the two – or three – panes of glass that make up your window.
When this seal begins to break down, air is able to carry moisture inside where it begins to oxidize low-E coatings, as well as creates a foggy or greasy area of condensation between the panes.
The breakdown of these window seals is due in a large part to the natural temperature fluctuations that occur inside and outside the home. These fluctuations cause the materials comprising the window to expand and contract, weakening the seal and allowing insulating gases to escape. In many cases, windows will continue to be functional for some time after the seal has begun to fail but, once broken, it is only a matter of time before the window will need to be replaced.
Unless you live in a particularly mild climate without hot summers or cold winters, you will want to ensure that your windows are working at peak efficiency during the more extreme months. This is because the cost of heating and cooling your home can rise quite quickly if your windows are not doing their part to properly insulate your home from the changing temperatures outdoors.
Those who do live in mild climates may be able to get by for some time by resealing the window to prevent further condensation and moisture from getting inside. While this will prevent the unsightly effects of moisture-rich air between the panes of glass, it will not do anything to replace the insulating gas which has already escaped or oxidized due to exposure to air.
Another option for milder climates is to have your windows vented. This removes the moist air from between the frames and ensures that it will not return but does not replace the lost insulating gases.
For best results, once your windows begin to show the telltale signs of a seal failure replace them with modern double-pane, low-E glass windows with a long warranty. It is often best to purchase windows directly from the manufacturer or through a trusted builder as you will get the best product – and best warranty – this way. Most modern windows will easily last up to 10 or even 20 years while some companies offer lifetime warranties that guard against future failure.
When it comes to windows, skip the DIY treatments and trust the experts!