Windows – Common Home Inspection Findings
Windows are a very important element of the home. Homeowners expect them to easily operate and want to see clearly out of clean glazing (window).
The most common home inspection findings related to windows are inoperable hardware, windows that are difficult to open or close, cracked glazing, broken seals, deteriorated rails and stiles, and deteriorated exterior window trim.
Hardware may be missing or broken. Handles, arms, bushings, rollers, locks, and hinges may be missing, damaged or broken resulting in an inability to easily open, close or lock them. Windows in homes built several decades in the past, may contain a pulley, chain or weight system that assist a person opening or closing a window. Often the pulleys or chains are separated from the weights.
Some are difficult to open or close. The operator may have to apply significant pressure to open or close them. Structural movement of the home may shift components, the force of which prevents it from opening or closing. Installation may have been improper, and components of the window may shift or move. In some instances, it may not open due to paints or finishes that seal windows shut. In addition, windows may have been installed that were constructed with products that may not withstand intense sunlight or extreme temperatures.
Glazing or glass components may be cracked, broken or missing. It is common to find one or two glass block basement windows, within a set of windows, cracked or broken. Glazing of a single pane or double pane window may be cracked, broken or missing. Offset breaks or breaks in a window that can be opened and closed may pose a potential for injury.
The majority of double and triple pane windows contain sealant around the edge of the glazing or glass. They often contain a gas that is inserted between the window panes; the gas increases the energy efficiency of the window. If the seal breaks or sealant no longer adheres to the glazing or glass, moisture and other particles in the air may seep between the double panes, resulting in water vapor or water droplets that adhere to the inside of the glazing or glass. The residue that is left behind cannot be cleaned and windows begin to discolor or cloud. The homeowner will no longer have a clear view through the window. Energy efficiency of the window also decreases.
Windows containing wood components, especially exterior wood components, may be susceptible to deterioration from moisture. In some cases, wood rails and stiles, the frame around the window, may deteriorate. Opening one with a rotted component may result in a window breaking into pieces. Some manufacturers have recalled windows with rotted components due to issues discovered in the window manufacturing process.
Components of exterior wood trim exposed to rain or moisture and not routinely properly painted or sealed may deteriorate. Deterioration of the exterior components will continue unless the trim components are properly repaired, painted or sealed.
Repairing damaged hardware may be relatively inexpensive if replacement parts can be found and easily replaced. Some may be repairable and a qualified window repair contractor may be able to fix rather than replace them. When windows are unable to be repaired, replacement of windows may need to occur, which is usually the most expensive option. In some instances, components of the window may be replaced. In other instances, the entire window may need to be replaced.