Winter time is great for figuring out which of your windows need attention come spring. Most of the time the windows that are not functioning properly will show signs – either through drafts, leaks, or both.

But despite what a window company might tell you, these signs don’t necessarily mean your windows need to be replaced right away. Of course, if there is moisture damage in your walls, a replacement is imminent down the road. But if you don’t suspect that your windows are allowing water into the surrounding structure, there are two good and easy fixes you can do yourself to extend the lifetime and performance of your windows. Similarly, not all households can afford a replacement right away. Attempting to fix some or all of your windows can put off spending a big chunk of money on doing a replacement in the whole house.




Caulking is the first line of defense for your windows against the outside elements. Applied around the exterior perimeter of your window, caulking is usually clear, white, or black to match the colour of the window.

The problem with caulking is that it is a malleable and soft material. It can also be affected by temperature changes, causing it expand or contract. Even if it doesn’t have gaps right away, after three or five years, your caulking can crack and not be continuous. This is a problem because wood elements inside your window frame and potentially the wall structure are not exposed to moisture in the air and water leaks.

After some time, caulking may crack or simply separate away from the window or the wall, leaving your window vulnerable to moisture damage.

If you want to maintain the performance of your windows for as long as possible, and prevent moisture problems from eating away the inside of your wall, you should check your caulking at least once annually. Thankfully, this is an issue that can be fixed without professional help, and with materials available at the hardware store. Most stores carry the same caulking professional window installers use.

Learning to properly apply the caulking may take some time, but you are looking to get a continuous line of sealant that isn’t too thick or too thin. After caulking is applied all around the window it will need several days or even weeks to fully settle and dry. During this time caulking may bubble, drip, and separate again. You usually have to wait for all of the caulking to dry before you can remove and redo it again.

Keeping an eye on the caulking around your windows is crucial to preventing moisture and cold air penetration into your home.



Most older windows utilize weatherstripping in areas where the moving sash meets the non-moving one, or against the frame. Weatherstripping is meant to fill the space between the two sashes so the gap prevents warm air from escaping, and cold air from leaking into the home.

A sliding window with weather stripping.

As sliding windows get opened and closed over time, the weatherstripping can thin out, and get worn down. Naturally, this will result in lower efficiency and an overall colder air in the room.

But just like caulking, weatherstripping can be replaced with materials purchased at a Home Depot. Most weatherstripping on the market is peel-and-stick and doesn’t require any special knowledge to apply. You simply peel off your old weatherstripping and stick the fresh one on.

Hopefully replacing the weatherstripping can restore some of the original efficiency inside the actual window unit, and avoid a full window replacement for some time.


When should you really replace your windows

When to replace windows will depend on each house individually. The condition of your existing walls is a big factor. A lot of older homes don’t have the protective membrane around the wall insulation, meaning if the caulking is broken, water can penetrate directly into the wall. Remember that a lot of repairs are not meant t

Remember that a lot of repairs are not meant to substitute the window replacement, but rather postpone it until a more convenient time.


Learn everything you need to know about replacement windows:
Find out how much a new window project should cost
See our full line of vinyl window styles
Follow the replacement process in this visual infographic

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