Window Seal: What to Do When It’s Broken?

What may cause an Insulated Glass Unit to fail? Read to the end to learn how to tell if a window seal is broken and how to best deal with it.

What is a Window Seal and Why is it Important?

A properly functioning window serves many functions. It not only gives you a clear view of the outside but also increases the energy efficiency of your house. Windows also allow for good ventilation letting in fresh air into your space. Fresh air has many health benefits among them improving your immune system.

Window Seal overview

Improvements in the window technology led to the adoption of window seals. Window seals are found on the perimeter of multipane windows where they create an air tight fit. They serve to prevent gases trapped between the panes from leaking out. These trapped inert gases help keep the temperatures of your house fairly constant. Whether in summer or winter, your house will remain cool and warm.

How Do You Know if Your Window Seal is Broken?

Multipane windows are the most common type of windows as they have better insulative abilities than single pane windows. This type of window has two or more glass panes that are separated by an airspace. The panes are then made watertight around the edges with an elastic sealant made from rubber. The official name for this type of window is Insulated Glass Unit (IGU).  Some multipane window types are modified to contain inert gases such as Argon that help reduce the transfer of heat to or from the outside.

Broken Window Seal

Presence of moisture between layers of glass is the most visible sign of a broken window seal. Beads of water first form in the corners of the window. With time, the beads will spread to the center of the pane. If the window seal is seriously broken, there will be an ever-present fogginess that spreads across the entire pane of the window. Your view of the outdoors when inside the house will greatly be interfered with.

Presence of condensation between the panes is not the only sign that a window pane has failed. Another sign of a broken window is the panes cracking or collapsing inwardly. The cracks are caused by inert gas that is usually found between the panes leaking out. Unusual distortion of items outside the window is a clear sign that the window seal is broken or has failed.

What are the causes of Window Seal Failure?

Well maintained and properly functioning window seals help lower your power bills. The insulation provided by these seals reduces the transfer of heat or cold to the outside. This increases the energy efficiency of your home.

causes of Window Seal Failure

To properly maintain your window seals, you need to understand what causes window seals to fail. The causes include, but are not limited to:

  • Faulty window installation

Faulty window installation

Careless and unprofessional installers may damage the window seal during installation. Window seals also get damaged during shipping. Inexperienced technicians may also use a defective sealant or not give it enough time to set.  All these mistakes may cause a window seal to fail as soon as it is installed. These careless mistakes in installation put pressure on the glass panes.

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  • A lot of Sunshine on the Windows

Sunshine on the Windows

Changes in the amount of sunshine and heat levels cause the window to expand and contract. When the sun shines on the window, it expands and exerts pressure on the seal. At night, the heat levels reduce, and the glass contracts. This repeated cycle of expansion and contraction, known as solar pumping, puts pressure on the seal causing it to fail.

  • Moisture

Moisture on the Windows

When your windows are constantly exposed to elements of weather, especially rain, the window seals can degrade. Water will seep into the seal and cause it to lift, allowing more air and water into the window. Moisture will make a wooden window frame rot, while a metal window frame will rust. To prevent this from happening, choose a window that is suited to the climate where you intend it to be installed.

  • Chemicals

chemicals used on Windows

If you use chemicals such as a paint stripper, the chemicals may dissolve the material used to make the sealant.

What do you do when your window seal fails?

window seal fails

Your power bills will for sure increase once your window seal fails. You will want to use an air conditioner when it is hot and a furnace when the outside gets cold. What options are available when a window seal fails? Read on to find out:

  • File a warranty claim

Sellers of windows normally provide a manufacturer warranty for each window sold. The warranties range from 3 to 5 years. When buying a window, always go with manufacturers that provide the long warranties.

Manufacturer warranties, just like any other contract, assign responsibilities to each party. The manufacturer will not honor the warranty if it is established that the window seal failure was as a result of your own negligence.

Most manufacturer warranties do not cover replacement labor costs. You will be required to meet the cost of replacing the window as the manufacturer only provides a new window. When buying a new window, take time to read and understand the warranty information. It is also important that you keep the warranty literature in good condition.

  • Replace the Insulated Glass Unit (IGU)

Insulated Glass Unit

If you go with this option, you will only have to replace the failed IGU unit. This option may not bring the window back to its full insulating power. Fixing only the broken seal is relatively less expensive than replacing the entire window.

With the decreased insulation, this option proves to be expensive in the long run. With time, as the insulation ability of the window decreases, your power bills will start to go up.

  • Replace the entire window

Replace the Insulated Glass Unit

This option can be considered when the window is old and its hardware already worn out. The option is viable when the window’s warranty is expired. The window may also be entirely replaced by the manufacturer if the window seal failure happens while the window is still under warranty. In as much as this is the most expensive option, it comes with a host of benefits.

It allows you to take advantage of emerging and innovative window technology. The new innovative technology offers better insulative abilities. If the problem of window seal failure appears on more than one window, you may consider undertaking a whole-house window replacement project.

  • Leave the window as-is

You may realize that the seal break is not as significant as you had imagined. Should this happen, you may choose to leave the window the way it is. This is the least preferred option because the problem is only going to get worse. It is better you find a solution to the seal, even though it looks insignificant.

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