A leaky window can cause big problems, from dampness in the home to structural problems. However, by identifying and fixing leaks at the first opportunity, you can limit the damage they cause.
How to find window leaks?
You might assume it would be easy to spot a leaky window. If it is raining and there is water inside the window, there is a water leak . What could be simpler?
One of the easiest ways to do this is to use a special heat meter that beeps when there is a leak.
You may find that a leak of a few droplets is worse than it first appears. When leaks occur inside a wall, the moisture will be quickly absorbed. So you won’t notice there’s a problem until unsightly stains appear.
The most vulnerable area of the window is the space where it meets the wall. This one should be sealed to keep moisture out, but this seal can break down over time and needs to be renewed periodically. The same goes for the rubber that holds the glazing in the frame and the paint that seals a wooden window.
What Causes Window Leaks?
The location of your leak will give you a fair idea of what caused it. A leak at the top of the window indicates a leak above the wall, not the window. A leak under the window, on the other hand, will likely indicate a problem with the window itself.
A lack of sealant at the edge of the window is not the only factor at work. If there is not enough overhang on the roof, the water will fall on the wall and gradually erode the sealant with each rain. If the dashboard is tilted towards the house rather than outwards, you will have the same problem.
Other problems relate to poor installation methods and materials. Windows should be sealed with flashing rather than typical building paper. This will create a water resistant seal that will protect the window. Likewise, if your windows have been installed incorrectly, gaps can quickly appear between the frame and the surrounding wall.
How to fix window leaks?
Repairing a leaky window frame is often a simple matter of resealing the window. This means removing the existing putty and applying a new coat. Sealing guns are inexpensive and make the job easier by pointing the nozzle into the gap and pulling the trigger.
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Before the sealant has a chance to dry, spread it with a knife so that it covers the entire gap. You’ll want to check that the window is fully sealed before you think the job is done.
Some times, however, the problem can be so severe that the window needs to be replaced, usually when the seal around the glazing has failed.
Although it is possible to reseal damaged windows this way, it is impossible to put argon gas back into a double-glazed window once it has escaped. As such, it’s worth replacing your window as soon as possible.
Another sure sign that your windows need to be replaced is that the leak has spread beyond the window and the surrounding building structure has been compromised.
No window lasts forever, so you can be pretty sure your window is going to fail at some point. So it’s worth inspecting every window in your home about once a month. Check that the exterior threshold is sloped in relation to the window so that the water can drain freely instead of collecting in a puddle.
Wooden windows will need more frequent attention than PVC windows, which are water resistant by design. You will want to touch them up periodically to keep moisture out. The same goes for the drainage channel on sash windows – these can get blocked by dead leaves and other debris, which will prevent water from draining away from the window.
You can often prevent window leaks by paying attention to the ceiling, especially if it is flat. When water forms on some types of plastic roofs, the surface can warp until the water can no longer escape.
That said, sloping tiled roofs aren’t immune either; inspect them for holes and damaged tiles and re-seal vulnerable areas.
Pro tip if you have a leak!
In the event of a leak, it is useful to call in a professional to identify the exact nature of the problem. This will save you considerable stress in the long run.