It’s easy to think about the typical ways we prepare for the summer heat in Arizona such as making sure the sprinklers and drip systems are adjusted to water the landscaping more often. Weather-stripping anywhere daylight peeks through around a door. Clearing out the garage to make room for the cars, so they don’t sit in the beating sun. Cleaning the BBQ. Perhaps stocking up on refreshments before the summer’s first pool party.
But did you know there are a few things that should be done to prepare windows for summer, too?
What’s most important? Clean glass.
Dirty glass can severely reduce the energy efficiency of your windows, right when you need it most.
Does this surprise you? Many people know that one of the most energy-efficient components of a window is the low-E reflective coatings, which prevent heat and UV rays from entering the home. But here’s what many don’t know; when the exterior window is dirty, it traps the heat instead of reflecting it. The energy efficiency is severely reduced, which shows up in warmer rooms and higher air conditioning bills.
Therefore, one of the most important ways to prepare your windows for summer is to clean the exterior glass.
You’ll want to clean the inside, of course, for clear windows and a beautiful view, but the exterior is what matters when it comes to preparing a home for the summer heat.
Clean windows reflect the sun, dirty windows don’t.
You’ll want to remove and clean the screens, too, They also hold onto heat when dirty — but check the manufacturer’s website to make sure the cleaning product and methods you want to use won’t harm anything. Mild soap and water or glass cleaner are typically fine but don’t use vinegar or a scrubbing solution. Be sure to avoid using a pressure washer since that high-pressure spray can tear a hole right through the screen; just a garden hose and bucket are best.
What’s next? Inspect the caulking or sealant.
While you’re cleaning the windows take a good look at the caulking or sealant that runs around the outside of the window frame. It seals out water and air and can last for 10-15 years, depending on the type used, but it doesn’t last forever. Make sure it’s painted, and if you see any cracking, peeling, or bubbling, it’s time to prep the old and apply the new. (Here’s more on caulking.)
You can also make any minor repairs if you catch an issue during the inspection. Cracked glass should be repaired by a glass repair company, and if you have a window or two that needs total replacement, that’s something a handyman can typically handle. You wouldn’t call a window and door company unless you needed all of them replaced. However, if you’re seeing condensation between the panes of glass on a window that’s still under warranty coverage, call the factory to handle the issue.
Make sure the weep holes aren’t blocked.
While checking the seals, also peek at the bottom of the frame to check out the weep holes.
Never heard of a weep hole? You aren’t alone.
It’s those little holes on the bottom of the frame if you’re standing outside home looking at the window.
They serve a very important function in a window by helping water drain out of the frame, so it doesn’t overflow onto the sill. When there’s condensation on the window inside the home, it must go somewhere, so it drips down into the track and exits through the weep holes. When rain hits the window, or you’re washing them, water runs down the glass onto the track, into the frame, and out the weep holes.
Without these holes, the water would overflow onto the windowsill, causing wood and drywall damage.
If you’re thinking those holes need to be filled with caulking so insects can’t come in, don’t do it! They can’t be painted over, either. Many a well-meaning homeowner unintentionally causes water damage to their home by blocking these weep holes, which is not covered by the manufacturer’s warranty or homeowner’s insurance.
If you aren’t sure where to find the weep holes on a window, try this test. From inside the home, slowly pour a cup of water into the bottom track of the window. Not the windowsill, of course, but the track of the window where the operating panel slides back and forth or slides down to rest. You’ll see the water level go down, and if you quickly look through the window at the bottom of the frame on the exterior of the window, you’ll see it running out of the window frame through the weep holes.
If you have a window that isn’t protected by the elements, you may have seen water accumulate on the window track from inside the home. Therefore, rainwater runs down the glass into the track, exiting the frame through the weep hole. It’s not a problem, it’s simply how the window functions. If it’s overflowing onto the windowsill, it’s probably not an improperly performing window; it’s simply that the weep holes are blocked.
Check if any landscaping is touching the window.
And for the last task? If you’re doing one last round of yard work before the scorching weather arrives, trim back any landscaping that touches your windows. If a branch of purple bougainvillea is rubbing on the glass, for example, it can scratch the glass or window frame, and drop debris that blocks weep holes. Cutting it back ensures you won’t have any issues.
That’s it! These are four simple ways to ensure your home’s windows are ready to handle whatever summer brings. Let the heat commence!
This DunRite article was originally published on Rosie on the House.
Hear Sal and Rosie on the radio!
(Begin listening at 18:48 to hear DunRite Owner Sal Sucato talk about summer window prep.)