As the weather begins to warm up around the country and we rejoice in allowing the gentle breezes of spring to circulate in our homes, we thought it would be a good time to once again pay some attention to windows—a potential huge benefit for home-shoppers but also a possible major expense. Repairing or replacing a few problem windows can cause an unexpected inconvenience and a strain on a family’s emergency savings account. Swapping out the entire set, including attic and basement units, can make a major dent in a homeowner’s wallet.
And if you’re thinking of putting your home on the market, quality windows that won’t need replacing for a couple of decades can be a nice selling point, especially during this unprecedented seller’s market.
It’s why the certified home inspectors at A-Pro Home Inspection take the time to give all windows a thorough look, both inside and out. At first glance, a window might appear to be in fine condition, but a closer examination from an experienced home inspector may reveal problems that could cost the homeowner money and lead to serious structural defects if not handled. Even if brand new, substandard installation practices can make a window prone to future issues.
If you’re a seller having A-Pro perform a pre-listing, 500-point Certified Pre-Owned Home Inspection, you are encouraged to do the following in regard to your home’s windows prior to the inspector’s arrival:
- Make sure windows are accessible so they can be inspected without complications
- If necessary, position furniture in a manner that provides an easy path to your windows
- Remove fragile/valuable items from windowsills
- Open blinds and curtains
- Reinstall cranks on casement windows if they have been removed
Your inspector will be aware of the types of windows they’re inspecting and some of the common problems associated with each kind, including fixed, casement, tilt-and-turn, double-hung, awning, hopper, and horizontal sliding. Further, when assessing windows, the inspector will also take note of the materials used (vinyl, wood, clad wood, or fiberglass) when searching for typical concerns.
Here is a checklist of common window problems the home inspectors at A-Pro have reported on over the last 27 years:
Stubborn Windows: Completely stuck or jammed windows that require unusual exertion to dislodge can be more than just an annoyance. They could be a red flag of foundation settlement or settled, deteriorated, or shifted crawl space supports. Additionally, window openings that are not square and diagonal cracks appearing in the corners are also indications that foundational issues may be at play. On the flip side, the inspector will report on broken windows that will not stay open on their own—another defect that will need to be addressed.
Gaps: As we’ve discussed in past blog posts, poor workmanship ranks as one of the top reasons components fail to do the job for which they were intended, whether putting in a new roof or renovating a porch. And let’s face it, installing windows is a task best left to experienced pros. If you hear an installer finish the job by saying, “Well, I guess that’s good enough,” expect problems down the road. Even when installed by longtime contractors, the precision needed is sometimes lacking. This can result in gaps at the corners of sashes and between side casings and window frames. Sometimes gaps will be the result of failing or absent sealants.
Cracked Glass and Damaged Screens: Your inspector will point out obvious window flaws, including cracked glass and ripped screens that can allow moisture and insects into the home. Like the gaps mentioned above, these conditions will allow conditioned air to escape and outside air to enter, creating an uncomfortable indoor environment that can lead to higher utility bills.
Failed Double Pane Windows: A misty or foggy appearance in multi-pane windows may be an indication that the seal has fractured due to expansion and contraction of the space between the panes. In some cases, thermal imaging can be used to detect failed double pane windows.
Improper Flashing: Water leaking in and around windows may be a sign of flashing issues. When done correctly, window flashing directs water away from window frames rather than allowing the home to become permeated with damaging moisture. Your inspector will check for signs of moisture damage, including staining.
Wood Rot: Windows take their fair share of abuse from the weather. Over time, rain gathering on windowsills may cause wood to deteriorate. The inspector will also check the window framing for soft, crumbling wood as well as mold.
A-Pro also wants to remind you that you can do your part to keep your windows in top shape by periodically checking on the condition of caulking and sealants; repairing or replacing damaged screens; cleaning dirt, debris, and moisture out of tracks; checking for damaged flashing; looking out for water penetration; and keeping framing free of dirt and debris.