Wood rot is a common problem around windows. It occurs when the wooden frame or sill gets wet and does not dry out properly. You may think that because the outside of your window is exposed to the elements that it is waterproof. Under ideal conditions, this is true. But, when your window leaks or has breaks in the seal, water can seep into the wood causing rot. If left untreated, wood rot can spread to adjacent wood and may even attract termites and other insect pests. Follow these tips for preventing wood rot around your windows and avoiding costly window repairs.
Clean the Frames of Storm Windows
Cleaning the frames of the storm windows goes a long way toward preventing moisture from becoming trapped between the storm window and the main window where it can wreak havoc with the wood. Storm windows are designed with weep holes that allow any buildup of moisture to escape. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, storm windows must be equipped with weep holes. Look at the bottom of the storm window frame for small drainage holes. If they are blocked with dirt and debris, clean them with an old toothbrush or use a toothpick or piece of fine wire to clean the holes. Vacuum the track to remove insects or other debris. Follow up with a good scrubbing with a stiff brush to remove stubborn debris.
Close Storm Windows during Storms
Nearly everyone closes their storm windows in the winter when the snow and ice begins to fly, but it is easy to overlook the importance of closing the storm windows in the summer. Get in the habit of closing your storm windows whenever it rains to keep moisture out. Rain showers and thunderstorms can easily expose your windows frames and sills to excess moisture that is better off left outside.
Reseal the Window Glass
If you have older windows in your home, you already know that the putty or sealant around the windowpane can dry out and crack over time. Check all your windows for any signs of damage to the sealant and replace it to seal the window properly. If the old putty resists your efforts in removing it, use a heat gun or hair dryer to warm and soften it before removing it. Cover the glass with aluminum foil or a piece of sheet metal to prevent damage to the glass from the heat.
Check that the Window Closes Properly
Loose windows that do not close snugly are a common cause of moisture seeping into the wood surrounding the window. Slide the window open and closed a few times to check that it moves freely on the track and that it closes snugly. Clean the track if the window does not slide into place easily.
Seal the Window Frame
Sometimes the problem with moisture infiltrating around the window lies with the window frame and not the windowpanes. Check that the window frame is properly sealed. Cracked or loose sealant, flaking or peeling paint or loose boards all invite moisture that can cause damage to the structure of your house. Repair and secure boards or siding, repaint the wood and replace the sealant around your window frame with weatherproof chalking to stop problems with moisture that can cause wood rot.
Replace Your Windows
If the wood rot is severe, you may need to replace the windows and the frames. You can do it yourself if you are handy with home improvement tasks, but unless you know what you are doing you may be better off to call in a professional. Your contractor can assess the problem, check the extent of the damage, and make recommendations for repairing it now to prevent further issues in the future.