Resealing Windows: How Protecting Your Windows Keeps You Warm

Kenneth Wilson

When the winter comes to chill every heart and home, we shut ourselves indoors and lock all the windows tight. In theory, this would keep the heat from slipping out. But if that window frame is fractured, we’re only welcoming in the cold.

Keeping your windows sealed prevents heat from escaping and the chill from making its home in your house. What’s more, resealing on a regular basis can help preserve their lifespan and regulate indoor temperatures. Whether you rely on personal expertise or professional implementation, resealing should become a mandatory part of maintenance for every homeowner.

Even knowing the basics of its benefits, resealing your windows can intimidate even experienced homeowners. Understanding the methods of doing so and the science behind it will help any potential builder keep their home secure.

Why Reseal Windows?

You might assume that seals only benefit the windows themselves. While they do provide additional layers of protection, their effects extend far beyond their physical reach.

Resealing Windows Saves Electricity

If you have yet to reseal your windows, you can wave goodbye to whatever temperature you’ve set your HVAC to. Unsealed windows create cracks that allow heat and air conditioning alike to escape out of. Not only does the air inside your house leak out, but the outside climate sneaks in.

In order to combat this ever-changing temperature, your HVAC units draw on additional electricity from your household. This amplified energy output escalates utility bills to unspeakable heights, especially at the peaks of summer or winter.

However, sealed windows can save homeowners up to 7.5% on their monthly electricity bills. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that Americans in 2018 paid an average of $117.65 each month for electricity. With the EIA’s estimates, you could save at least $108 every year simply by maintaining your windows’ seals.

Resealing Windows Preserves HVAC Units

All of the electricity that HVAC units draw on to combat changing climates does not only affect your bills. Overworked units suffer from shortened lifespans that abbreviate their effectiveness and rob your wallet in the long run.

The average HVAC unit can provide 15 to 25 years of consistent, substantial service to its conjoined household. However, the leakage of unsealed windows can cause these units to short-circuit one to five years early.

Given that warranties typically only cover 5 to 10 years of a unit’s life, any needed replacement will cost homeowners out of pocket. Resealing windows can save homeowners from unnecessary payments of expensive appliances.

Resealing Windows Helps the Environment

The excessive electricity needed to cover an unsealed window’s deficit damages more than your property. Each portion of energy used further infects our already-polluted world. Carbon dioxide created from air conditioners acts as a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming. Air conditioners account for 6% of the United States’ energy usage. That means that these machines alone annually send 117 million metric tons of toxic gas into orbit.

Keeping windows sealed preserves the environment as much as possible. These seals limit the air that evacuates your household and the gas that afflicts our atmosphere.

Resealing Windows Protects Your House

Unsealed windows allow more in than the outside air – it houses condensation that builds up over time. This moisture damages any material it comes into contact with. Aluminum windows would otherwise last 20 to 25 years on their own, but rust from liquid can erode their durability. Vinyl windows can survive even longer, standing strong after 40 years. However, should they be exposed to the elements for too long, this condensation can warp their shape indefinitely.

Even if water should stay at bay, other threats can sneak inside. Noise from passing cars or obnoxious neighbors sounds all the louder with unsealed windows. Insects can infiltrate your house just as easily as soundwaves, making your home their own.

When to Reseal Windows

Even if you understand the importance of resealing windows, you may not know when to do so. Oversealing could theoretically create as many threats as undersealing could. Learning the predicted lifetimes of your windows and symptoms of malfunctions can keep your mind clear and your wallet full. Those in the industry believe that you should reseal windows every five years. This consistent maintenance preserves the window’s functionality and prevents the seal’s eventual downfall.

However, repairs may be required before one ever reaches the five-year mark. Should any symptoms arise that require your attention, tend to them immediately.

Symptoms of Unsealed Windows

First, check for any liquid accumulating inside the internal panes of glass. Signs of condensation show that water has leaked in from elsewhere in the frame. The threat that moisture poses to the window’s stability necessitates immediate resealing.

Next, it’s time to test for any incoming drafts. Light a candle and carry it slowly along all edges of the window. Any consistent flickering proves that a draught exists due to a fracture in the frame.

The final sign of any needed repairs doubles as the most apparent symptom: physical deformities. Any signs of wear and tear around the seal should garner your attention, as should gaps between the seal and the pane itself.

When to Replace Windows

Other issues may arise that a simple seal cannot overcome. In this case, homeowners should replace windows rather than reseal them. (Related: Replacement Windows: Are They Worth It?) However, to discern which issue is which, we must understand what problems call for a substitute instead of a seal.

Do you see streaking or moisture between the panes of glass? Don’t blame the failing seal – point your finger at the treatment these panes received at their manufacturing plant. Factories place low emissivity coating overtop of the glass in an effort to reflect the infrared and ultraviolet light. The assembly machines then pump arson gas between the panes to implement a sense of insulation. However, should these mechanisms malfunction, it can allow for too great a space between each pane.

Should any liquid build up between the glass, call for a replacement immediately. Ideally, seek out windows created at a different location so as not to repeat this process in the future. Water is not the only threat to a window’s conservation. If any of the frames have rotted or cracked, you should dispose of them immediately. Seal alone cannot heal splintered or spoiled wood, vinyl, or aluminum.

The last symptom to look out for: broken glass. Never apply seal directly to shattered or damaged glass, as it could potentially injure you and void the warranty. Instead, remove the window and any leftover glass before seeking out a substitute.

How to Reseal Windows

Whenever the need to reseal a window arises, there’s one more important decision to make before any other. Would you rather a professional perform the work for you or are your DIY skills up to snuff?

Should a Professional Reseal My Windows?

Despite the appeal of repairing your home with your own hands, not all work needs to take up your time and energy. In fact, under certain circumstances, refraining from interfering could prove safer for your health.

While it is possible to perform a resealing yourself, this is best left to a professional. Any incorrect placement or over-application of the seal could instead harm what you’re attempting to heal.

If the window remains under warranty, this process should come at no charge to you. Windows have a standard warranty of ten years, with manufacturers frequently offering longer time frames to customers. Be sure to inspect your warranty prior to calling a repair contractor, however, as certain deals only cover certain components.

Can I Reseal My Own Windows?

If your window is not under warranty, or if you possess the necessary skills, then apply the seal yourself. This approach will spare your bank account, even if it costs you the time needed to do the labor solo.

Planning to attempt this task yourself? Then you’ll need to bring along three tools: a pair of scissors, a putty knife, and a caulking gun.

How to Caulk Window Seams

The first step is to apply caulk softener to wherever the old caulk still exists. You’ll now need to wait at least two hours before the product works its magic. Once the time limit has passed, scrape the leftover caulk off with your putty knife.

Now to apply a fresh layer of caulk to the window – which requires a new container of caulk to siphon from. First, cut the tip off of your caulk container and break the tube’s seal with a nail to the tip. Then load the tube directly into your caulking gun and prepare for application.

Align the tip of the tube with the seam of the window. Squeeze one line of caulk overtop of the seam until it is fully covered. Be sure to trace slowly and with precision, as the seal can find difficulty seeping into deeper crevices.

After sealing the top of the windows, continue caulking along the sides and across the bottom. With the entirety of the window frame covered, wet your fingertip and smooth out each line of caulk. Once all of that has set, your windows should stay sealed and secure for five years more.

Kenneth Wilson
September 29, 2021
Window Replacement

Kenneth Wilson

Retired contractor. Currently residing in Southwest Florida. Now in semi-retirement, I write and manage this blog focused on helping home owners make savvy decisions when it comes to finding contractors and getting their projects done. I also operate remodeling design service for homeowners.

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