Date posted: 29th March 2019

How to repair your windows and doors

Autumn and winter take their toll on your property. Windows and doors are key in keeping the weather out. Coming out the other side, Spring is the perfect time to carry out window and door repairs, so that your windows and doors are in a ready state of repair for whatever next winter throws in their direction. 

If you already have brand new PVC-U or aluminium windows, you can probably afford to sit back, or get on with mowing the grass. They’re designed to minimise maintenance.

If, however, you have older windows or doors, or timber windows, you should probably consider investing a little time now, so that your home is secure and weatherproof when winter comes round again.

How to repair wooden windows and doors

There are many properties in the UK with wooden windows and doors, either because they’re still the original windows; they’re fitted in period properties and there’s a requirement to use original materials; or simply a matter of personal preference – but all will require some care and attention.

As a natural material older windows will move and without treatment, deteriorate. This can include sticking, warping, the loosening of joints and the development of gaps around the frame in response to expansion and contraction.

How to fix sticking wooden windows

Sticking wooden windows are a common problem. This can be caused by a couple of things: either swollen timber; the build-up of paint; loose or broken hinges or in the case of sliding sash windows, overly tight staff beads.

The expansion of timber or build up of paint are the most common. They’re also the easiest to fix.

Build-up of paint on windows is causing them to stick

Build-up of paint is the easiest fix. Timber windows need regular painting to protect them from the elements but it’s really important to takes back older coats before applying fresh ones. If you haven’t done this everything can become too tight and the door or window won’t close or open properly.

The first thing to do is to remove the build-up using a hot-air gun or chemical paint stripper to strip the edge of the window and frame back to bare wood. You need to look for a clearance gap of around 2mm between the edge of the opening window and the frame before repainting – this is to make sure that you have enough space to apply new coats, without recreating the same problem.

If you don’t have a 2mm gap, you need to plane the edge of the window. On a casement window this will mean removing the opening sash from the frame by unscrewing hinges. On a box sash window the process is a little more involved and you’ll need to prise off the staff beads from the front of the frame on each side of the sliding sash.

Sticking wooden windows because of moisture ingress

If too much paint can cause a problem on timber windows, so can too little. If windows aren’t properly maintained moisture from rain and the general damp of the UK climate, can cause wooden windows to expand.

In this case the fix is more-or-less the same as for too much paint. You need to strip things back, expose the original wood – in this case allow it to dry – check that you have a 2mm clearance - and then re-paint.

How to fix wood rot in windows

If windows have been exposed to moisture for a long time, the wood may have begun to rot. This can be a particular problem in cheap softwood windows which were used widely on new build properties from the 1960s onwards.

The approach you need to take is dependent on the level of damage. If it’s a small area of rot in most cases you can dig it away with a chisel and repair it with a high-performance external wood filler, taking care to make sure that the wood has dried out and building up deeper repairs in layers.

If the rot has really taken hold, there is always scope to cut out the damaged section and replace it with new wood, joining the two with screws and dowels.  You’ll need to be competent with your tool kit to do it, however, so we’d suggest this is not something you should take on unless you’re an experience DIYer.

It’s worth noting that while not entirely free of maintenance, today’s engineered timber windows get around most of these problems, offering advanced performance without the same maintenance requirements.

We supply Stormproof timber windows from Dempsey Dyer. With enhanced weather performance they’re available in Sapele, Oak, Accoya and European Redwood, offering exceptional through life performance.

Sourced from verified FSC or PEFC sources, this includes a top performing Window Energy Rating A Rating, when manufactured in Accoya. 

Window hinges have dropped

Another problem which can lead to difficulties when opening and closing windows are dropped hinges. This isn’t a problem that’s specific to timber windows and can impact on aluminium and PVC-U products too.

The fix is dependent on window material, type and age.

Starting with where we left off, hinges on older timber windows will deteriorate over time. Causes can be that they have simply come lose at the frame or the mechanism has failed with use and the hinges will need to be replaced.

The same problems can also afflict older aluminium and PVC-U windows. The hinges wear with time and the opening window sash can catch on the top of the frame as it passes over it.

New PVC-U windows ‘catching’ as they’re opened

In newer energy efficient windows and doors, dropped hinges tend to only be a problem if they haven’t been installed properly in the first place or can be attributable to settling.

Either way, you’re going to know that this is a problem early on. Minor adjustment of the hinges and re-packing/fitting of the glazed unit inside the window and door sash will generally solve this.  This is again a job for a professional.

If you’re PVC windows or aluminium windows have stopped closing properly or are catching as they’re opened and you have had them for a little while, the cause is most likely to be maintenance – or in our experience, lack of it!

Hinges in common with any moving part on any moving thing, require lubrication to work properly. If they’re not maintained opening and closing can cause damage over time.

Hinges should be oiled with a light 3-in-1 type lubricant but be careful not to over lubricate and avoid using spray oils.

The same is also true for lock mechanisms. Make sure, however, that you’re using a suitable lubricant as the application of the wrong product can make things worse!

How to fix gaps around a window frame

Gaps around a frame can be another sign that your windows and doors are in need of repair. This can lead to draughts and moisture ingress, which in timber windows can contribute to the expansion of the wood and host of problems.

The solution is the same regardless of material type – although this assumes that wood is in a good state of repair and painted.

If gaps around windows are 10mm or less, all you need to do is to remove any loose debris from the gaps and cut away any failed sealant and then re-apply new mastic using a cartridge gun. It’s really important to do this at a slight angle to the wall, injecting a suitable exterior sealant into the gap. You’ll get a better finish if you do this in a single bead, only stopping at the corners.

If the gaps are wider than 10mm you may want to consider using expanding foam, which will penetrate and fill hard to reach corners and which can be cut, sanded and painted once fully cured.

The other option is to seal larger gaps with mortar and then once fully dried after around two to three days to seal with a thinner bead of mastic.

How to fix a window that’s misted on the inside

It’s also worth checking the glass and sealed units in your windows to make sure that they’re in a good state of repair. Cracked or damaged single sheets of glass in older windows should be replaced by removing the beads or putty and installing new glass, toughened if required.

We also get regular call outs to misted double-glazed windows. There are lots of companies who offer a misted double-glazed window repair service but we’d argue that while they do a job you need to be aware that windows mist because moisture has got in.

If your insulated glazed units are misted, it means that the energy efficient gas that used to fill the gap between them has escaped, so even if you remove the moisture and reseal them, they will be less energy efficient than they were before, and more heat will escape from your home.

Given that they’re easy to replace, we’d argue that its much better in the long run to simply replace them with a new energy efficient unit.

KJM window repair and maintenance

In addition to the supply of energy efficient new upvc, aluminium and timber windows and doors, we also provide a remedial repair and maintenance service, with dedicated technicians on the road throughout Hampshire, Dorset, Wiltshire and Surrey.

This includes a regular window and door maintenance service to the replacement of failed locks, hinges, hardware, or glass units. 

Please don’t hesitate to get in touch to find out more by calling 01264 359355 or emailing email sales@kjmgroup.co.uk