You know it when you see it: fog and condensation indicates a failed window seal. If you've got double- or triple-paned sealed windows, you've got a seal that is supposed to remain impregnable. But overzealous painters wielding heat guns or homeowners with pressure washer
s--or just time--can cause the window seal to fail.
Replacement window companies will tell you to replace the entire window unit. But is this the most cost-effective answer? Well, in some cases it may be necessary to replace the entire unit. However, in most other cases, there are easier fixes than calling in a window company.
1. Fix a Failed Window Seal by Calling in a Glazier
Remember them? Probably not, since glaziers seem to be a dying breed--along with chimney sweeps. But glaziers can work miracles on glass, including sealed windows. For much less than a replacement window company will charge, a glazier will come in and replace just the glass portion of your window. Bonus: no tear-outs, no mess.
2. Fix a Failed Window Seal by Fixing Just the Seal Itself
Specialty companies such as Crystal Clear Window Works go one step further: they don't even replace the glass. What they do is deal with the problem itself. They install a valve and seal, expelling the condensation until the inner portion is dry. This bonus: preventing landfilling of perfectly good glass.
3. Fix a Failed Window Seal by Leaving It Alone
Chances are good your windows are more than you need. If you live in a mild climate, you may never reap the benefits that double-paned, low-e windows have to offer. One failed window seal will make little or no difference in your heating or cooling bills. Compare a sealed window with a window with a failed seal. Is one measurably warmer to the touch than the other? Unless you live in an extreme climate, you can most likely get by with a failed window seal or two.
4. Replace Entire Window Unit, Frame and All
The most expensive option. Here, a replacement window company comes in, removes the window sashes
and any fixed window units with surrounding framework, then installs a replacement window. This option also means interior trim removal and possible paint touch-up. However, if your frame needed replacing anyway, this may be a viable option.