Windows are often the culprit for both air and water leaks inside the home. This is especially true for places like Florida, where it’s hot, humid, and often raining. For that reason, it’s good to know how you can perform both a visual and a physical check of your windows to ensure that they won’t be the reason why you suddenly get mold or other damage to your home.
Most people wrongly assume that checking for leaks is super challenging to do. All you have to do is follow a few easy steps to grant yourself the peace of mind that your windows don’t need repair.
Having said that, let’s talk more about how you can perform a basic leak check independently. If you suspect there may be an issue with a window or would like to confirm with a thermal inspection, call a public adjuster and request a free inspection.
How to Do a Physical Inspection of Your Windows
Doing the physical inspection of your windows is the first step you need to do. It’s a relatively quick process to go through, and how long it will take you depends mainly on the number of windows present in your home. To do it, you will only need a few supplies you probably already have.
- Close All Windows
You probably already guessed, but the first step you have to take is to close all the windows. It’s impossible to check the windows when they’re open, and if you’re able to lock your windows, then that’s even better to do, as it will provide the tightest possible seal. It’s important to note that even if you’re checking only the windows in one room, it’s a good idea to close the windows in all the other rooms as well, as a way to limit the flow of air coming from outside. This will make your check even more accurate.
- Turn Off Fans and/or the Furnace
The next phase of this inspection requires you to turn off your home’s furnace or air conditioning. Give the system a few minutes to cycle down to ensure that there’s no additional air movement happening in the home. Your goal is to have the air as still as possible, so make sure you turn off all fans (including floor fans), and other kinds of air conditioning units. Otherwise, you risk compromising your results.
- Light a Candle
Step three might sound surprising, but the reality is that the best way to determine whether there’s a leak in your window is with a flicker of a flame or a flicker of smoke. Get a lighter, some matches, or a candle. Long, skinny taper candles typically work best, but other kinds can also do the job. The main thing you need to ensure is that you can hold onto the object steadily.
- Start to Move the Candle Around the Window
Once you have your candle lit, you need to slowly move it around the edges or perimeter of the window. It’s crucial that when you perform these tests, you’re careful not to set anything around you on fire – so make you avoid curtains or drapes. If your window has two operable sashes (like a sliding window or a double-hung one), you can also move the candle along the place where the two sashes connect. If you notice the flame flickering or the smoke blowing sideways, that’s a sign that the window is probably leaking.
How to Do a Visual Inspection
Once you’re done with the physical inspection of the windows, it’s a good idea to perform a visual one as well so that you can be sure everything’s in order – both on the inside and on the outside. This is a critical test to perform if you did the physical test on a day when there wasn’t a ton of wind. Also, even if your test didn’t show any issues with the windows, doing a visual check-up won’t cost you a ton of time, but it will give you the peace of mind that everything is in order.
Remove your curtains or pull them back and look carefully around the windows for any signs of daylight entering your home where it shouldn’t be. Along with that, on more windy days, close the windows and see whether your curtains or drapes continue to move, even when they shouldn’t. Remember, even a tiny gap can cause an issue, so you must be thorough when checking.
Once you’re done with the inside check, it’s time to inspect your windows from the outside. Look carefully for any small gaps in the frame around your windows. Along with that, look for any cracks in the caulking along the sides, top, and bottom of the windows. If you have a single-paned window, check the putty between the glass panes to ensure it’s in order and not cracked. If you notice even one of these problems at any point during your check, then that is a sign that your window may be causing air or water leaks. In a state like Florida, where you’re constantly battling rain, heat, and humidity, even a small leak can lead to bigger issues in your home, such as mold, wet walls, and more.
What Causes Window Leaks?
You may be wondering what causes window leaks, and the reality is there’s not one thing in particular that could lead to such an issue. However, there are a few key causes of window leakage. Let’s take a look at what they are.
Problems With Installation
If your window leak isn’t caused by worn-out hardware, then poor installation might be the reason for your leak. This can mean flashing with weak gaps, windows that aren’t fitted properly, or nails that aren’t made to be corrosion-resistant. Ultimately, you will probably have to either replace or repair such windows because these kinds of issues can’t be masked.
Wear and Tear
Most window leaks are caused by chemical components of the sealant breaking down over time. Typically, you can tell that a sealant has degraded when there’s condensation around the edge of the window whenever there’s humidity or rain. Another sign is discoloration of the sealant.
Of course, there are other possible wear and tear issues, such as damaged locking mechanisms, which make your windows unable to be completely shut, or holes in the glass that can occur during storms. The good thing is that window hardware is inexpensive and can easily be replaced when needed.
Flaws in Design
The most costly of all window leak causes has to be this one – flaws in the design. That’s mainly because it points to an issue that has nothing to do with the windows themselves but rather with the overall design of your home. In cases where windows leaking is caused by a lack of overhangs or by cracks in the wall, the repair will be expensive, and it will be difficult to find this issue on your own. So if you’re experiencing frequent leaks of water in your home and you don’t notice any issues with the windows themselves, it might be a good idea to call a professional who can check whether there’s a more complex problem behind all that leakage.
You should be aware that sometimes problems in your home might get misdiagnosed as leaking windows. Some of those include missing shingles, clogged gutters, or cracks in your walls. These are all things that may lead to air or water getting into your home and causing issues, so sometimes it’s a good idea to have a professional come and check out your entire house before you pay for repair or replacement of windows. Ask An Adjuster offers a free 11-point inspection for these kinds of scenarios.
What Damage Can Leaky Windows Cause?
Generally, leaky windows can cause a lot of damage. For example, if you let water get in your home through the window, that can lead to condensation and water pooling around the window. All that moisture can result in rotted window frames, damaged floors, and, in more extreme cases, a compromised foundation. Along with that, leaking windows can lead to higher energy and cooling bills, as air can exit more easily. Finally, all that moisture entering your home can also lead to mold, especially in places like Florida, where it also tends to be hot.
Unfortunately, sometimes a problem that can easily be solved (such as a leaking window) can lead to more permanent damage if not repaired as soon as possible. That is why it’s vital that you proactively look for such issues and do your very best to fix them as soon as you can.
If you suspect that your windows might leak, make sure not to ignore the signs. If you notice any extra moisture in your home or if mold has recently developed, that’s a clear sign that you must ensure your windows don’t require repair.
Hopefully, after reading this article, you’ve learned all about the issues that leaking windows can cause, how you can check whether yours have any issues, and what typically causes windows to leak.