They say that April showers bring May flowers, but when you have a window leak, springtime showers mostly bring anxiety and aggravation. You don’t need to be a home improvement pro to know this simple rule: when it rains, the water should stay on the outside of the house.
If water is getting past your windows, the first step is to identify the route that the water is taking: is it coming through the window itself, or penetrating through a gap in the materials surrounding the window?
Leaks in the Window Itself
If water is penetrating between the glass and the bordering material, or between the panel and the frame, then there is an issue with the physical structure of the window. Most common in older windows, a leak in the window itself is usually the result of a failed seal, but can be caused by something as simple as a crack in the window glass. If the windows are relatively new, replacement parts are often available from the manufacturer. Older windows may be repaired by glazier or window specialist, or the windows may be candidates for replacements. If they are especially old or non-efficient (such as aluminum-constructed windows) then you’re probably in the zone where replacements may make immediate financial sense.
Deciding which path to take is a matter of doing a little cost-benefit analysis. Chances are your new windows will be an upgrade in thermal insulation. How much that upgrade will convert to dollars and cents depends on the amount of that efficiency, measured by U-Value and Solar Heat Gain Coefficient. For more on these terms and what they mean in relation to your windows, check out this article, “The Benefits of Installing New Windows and Doors.”
In addition to energy savings, new windows can improve the look of your home and potentially boost its value. Consult with a real estate agent to find out how much new windows might affect your home’s market value, and ask if there is a particular style that is best suited for your neighborhood.
Water Leaking Around the Window
No matter how well-constructed an individual window may be, it’s still essentially a plug in a big hole in the side of your home. Keeping water out of that hole requires proper performance from both the window and the sealing materials around it. This includes flashing, caulking, siding, house wrap, and flashing tape.
If you’re seeing water breach the window, then try to find the root cause. If you rectify the situation early enough, you can save yourself a healthy bundle of cash. If you let it sit, however, then the water may damage the framing, the drywall, even the window itself. (While the exterior side of a window should be able to withstand severe rains, the sides and interior of the window is often not water-resistant, and no window is designed to be permanently sitting in wet and soggy conditions.) Examine the exterior of the window, paying extra attention to the contact points between the siding and the flashing around the window. All materials should overlap in such a way that water will shed without becoming trapped, and any caulking should not demonstrate cracking or shrinking.
Whatever the source of your leak, it’s vital that you address it ASAP. Don’t be fooled into letting it slide if you stop seeing the leak. The water may be redirecting elsewhere, trapping moisture and leading to the growth of mold and mildew.
Find the Perfect Contractor to Fix your Leaking Windows
If you want your windows fixed but don’t want to pick up a hammer, the good news is that a contractor can most likely take care of your windows for you. Once you’ve identified whether the leak is coming from the window itself or the surrounding materials, jump on Pro Referral to find a contractor. Look for a window and door installation specialist, or at least someone with extensive experience in that area, and be sure to ask for references.
If your home was built before 1978, or you suspect that it has lead paint, make sure that your contractor is RRP Certified. This ensures that they will take the proper steps to protect your family from any lead contamination.
Once you’ve selected a contractor, consider having them examine the rest of your windows while on site. You may have issues with your exterior water barrier in more than one place, and your contractor may be able to nip any pending problems in the bud. Even if you get charged a fee for this additional inspection, you’re much better off than if you let the issue fester until it becomes critical.