When winter comes around and the air begins to grow cooler, problems with glass windows and doors often reveal themselves. Conditions that only cause minor warm drafts in the warmer months of the year can become serious problems in Maryland and Virginia winters, as the cold and moisture take action on the glass, metals, wood, and plastics that make up your windows and doors.
Even if your windows don’t fail you completely in the winter, it’s not uncommon for poorly fitting, poorly constructed, damaged, or old windows to develop all manner of annoying problems during the winter months. Here are a few problems to look out for and your options for each.
Without specialized windows and doors, it’s often impossible to avoid some condensation when the temperature outside is significantly colder than the temperature inside, but excessive condensation can be indicative of a real problem. For example, large amounts of condensation may suggest gaps around the window or even in the glass, allowing cold, moist air into your home.
Of course, this can also be indicative of problems unrelated to your windows, such as excessive indoor humidity, which would best be tackled by an HVAC specialist.
Sometimes you don’t need condensation to tip you off to leaks; sometimes the first problem you notice is a leak in your glass door or window, allowing frigid streams of air into your home. This is, of course, a major hit to your energy efficiency and comfort at any time of year, not just the winter. Drafts without an obvious source may also be a result of old windows with glass that lacks insulating properties; this can happen as heat leaks straight through the window to outside, leaving the air inside cold.
Do your power bills skyrocket when the weather gets cold, despite good insulation in your walls and an effective heating system? Then your windows or doors might be costing you big, especially if they feature older glass panes without the insulating properties of a modern design. Fortunately, this problem is easily resolved with a simple replacement of the offending window or door, but unfortunately, there’s no simple DIY fix for this problem; you’re going to need a professional.
If your windows are leaking cold air or humidity, or if they’re directly allowing water or snow into your home, then you’re at risk of major damage around the frame and nearby parts of your home. Even without full leaks of water, enough humidity accumulating in the wood and plaster around your windows and doors can cause dramatic water damage, warping, molding, and rotting anything it touches. Be particularly alert to water around your windows in any form, and pay close attention to wood and other susceptible materials if you suspect you might have a leaky window or door.
This can be resolved by carefully controlling the humidity in your home, but your safest and smartest choice will be to improve the weatherproofing of your windows, probably via a full replacement with more modern designs.
Good windows mean a world of difference for your home’s well-being in the cold months of the year. Poorly sealed and insulated windows don’t just run up the power bill as you run the heater an extra couple of hours each day; they can cause serious damage far beyond the cost of modernizing your entryways and windows. Make sure you spot these little problems before they become big ones.
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