Even if you just upgraded to brand new windows it is important to know that how long they last greatly depends on properly using and maintaining them.
It is common knowledge that when you purchase new vinyl windows they should come with at least a 20-year warranty. But what most homeowners don’t know is that warranty doesn’t cover human negligence or improper use that leads to breaks. It is also true that most window related problems that aren’t a result of the installation, have something to do with mishandling by the customer.
And although vinyl is a long-lasting material, it is still fairly brittle and can get damaged over time. That is why proper maintenance is important in ensuring that your windows last the entirety of their expected lifetime.
Window maintenance begins with correct operation
Most often window frames or sashes crack, bow, bend or break because of mishandling when closing or opening the windows. And while these problems tend to occur over time, each window has its own unique operational features that allow it to perform correctly and efficiently for a long time. Did you know that it is best to close sliding windows with both hands? An installer should go over the nuances of window operation at the end of the installation.
If you learn to operate your vinyl windows properly and make it a habit, you can prevent a lot of the stresses and breaks that form over time. But proper operation is only a part of the solution. Doing some basic cleaning and maintenance on your windows a couple of times a year will ensure optimal performance and operation. It will also help your windows drain moisture properly and keep it away from the frames and wall structure.
Cleaning the window glass
Glass panes are best cleaned with a mild soap or a vinegar-based cleaner. Streaks are a big concern when cleaning a glass surface so it is often recommended to use a grit-free cloth, sponge or even newspaper. Streaks can also appear if ammonia or alcohol-based cleaners are used.
When cleaning the glass, use light circular motions. If streaks appear on the outside of the window use clean water to rinse them off. Most adhesive residue, oil, or paint can be removed with a little extra elbow grease. Unless you absolutely have to, try to stay away from abrasive cleaners.
Cleaning on the interior side of the glass will also require you to wipe down the surfaces and frames to avoid spotting or water damage.
When cleaning the windows in your home it is the best idea to start on the top floor first. That way any run-off or water can be dealt with when you’re cleaning the windows on the bottom floor.
Cleaning the vinyl exterior
One big advantage of vinyl as a window material is that it is relatively maintenance free when it comes to cleaning. The exteriors of your windows will generally be clean of dust and dirt with rain. However, cleaning your frame annually or even twice a year can help remove the excess dirt and prevent your frames from discoloring or deteriorating.
Vinyl exteriors can be washed with a mild soap or a diluted detergent solution. Just like with glass surfaces try to stay away from abrasive or acidic solvents as they can discolor or burn off the top seal of the vinyl components. Pay attention to the materials you are using to clean with. A microfiber cloth or a soft bristle brush should be enough to thoroughly clean your windows. After you wash the windows with the soap solution rinse them thoroughly with clean water to prevent soap residue from drying on the vinyl.
Cleaning sash tracks
Sash tracks are important in keeping your window functioning properly, ensuring it is as airtight as possible, and draining water away from the house. With rain and wind, debris, dirt, and foliage can end up in the sash track, so it is important to clean it before there is too much build up. Just like with vinyl exteriors, the sash track can be cleaned with warm water and a mild soap or detergent. Clean sash tracks prevent wearing-out of hinges, rollers, weatherstripping, and locks. They also help the water to move out of the drainage channels with ease.
Cleaning window screens
Torn or bent window screens are most often the results of mishandling by the homeowner. This is also something that warranty from most window companies doesn’t cover. Most screens get damaged when the homeowner tries to take them out for, so be very careful when cleaning your screens. Exterior surface screens can be cleaned in the same way vinyl components are cleaned.
An easy to clean a screen is to lay it down on a flat surface. Apply a cleaning solution to the screen and let it soak for a couple of minutes. Rinse the screen with water or a low-pressure spray from a garden hose. Screens can also be vacuumed with a soft brush.
Lubricating and cleaning window hardware
Hardware refers to the metal piece and components that move and lock your windows. Use the same mild soap solution to clean locks, hinges, operator arms, and window handles. Before lubricating make sure you rinse the soap off with clean water.
To lubricate the rotary hardware you can use lithium or automotive grease, or petroleum jelly.
Hinges, rollers, and metal tilt latches should be lubricated with silicone based lubricants. Avoid using petroleum based lubricants on these hardware components.
What NOT to do when cleaning windows:
- Do not use citrus, vinegar, abrasives, ammonia or siding washes on the window hardware.
- If it is possible, avoid cleaning the glass surfaces or window frames while they are exposed to direct sunlight. Soaps or detergents can dry on the surface and leave a hard residue.
- Do not use harsh abrasives, high pressure sprays, acid cleaners, or strong solvents on any frame component.
- Never use blades, knives, steel wool or abrasive cleaners on any glass or frame surface.
Window maintenance is something that you only need to do once or twice a year. With modern vinyl windows, the whole routine can be fairly quick, cheap, and relatively easy on labour. Most importantly, properly maintaining your windows will ensure they stay efficient and perform properly for as long as possible, but also prevent damages as a result of the improper operation.
Learn everything you need to know about replacement windows:
Find out how much a new window project should cost
See our full line of replacement vinyl windows
Learn about Ecoline Windows warranty