Winter is the most demanding time of the year for building structures. Very low temperatures plus strong wind, rain and snow is a dangerous combination for the window joinery in our homes. Therefore, we should take the necessary precautions before the winter hits. A window that is properly prepared for the winter will reduce heat loss, which in turn will reduce the heating bill and extend the life of the window. Otherwise, up to 25% of the energy used to heat the building can be lost through unsealed windows.
The maintenance of the window should begin with the simplest task, i.e. cleaning. Cleaning the windows before the winter is crucial, since the dust on the windows serves as a medium for microorganisms that gradually destroy the protective film of the window profile by creating microscopic pores in the frame surface, through which dirt penetrates the window.
The choice of cleaning agent is also important. In the case of PVC windows the cleaning fluid should be carefully selected, as it must not contain strong chemicals, solvents or abrasive substances. An inappropriate cleaning agent may compromise the window, e.g. discolour or scratch the profile. A safe solution is a branded cleaning agent or a mixture of washing-up liquid and water. The windows should be cleaned with a small amount of the cleaning substance and a soft, seamless cloth.
Concentrated cleaning agents and oily preparations may destroy the gaskets, especially those made of EPDM. A plain washing-up liquid will be sufficient. Also, take care not to spray the glass panels too much during cleaning. Any residual fluid should preferably be removed from rubber elements with clean water.
When the windows are clean we can proceed to check the condition of the window. Start with checking if all moving parts and fittings are working correctly. If you notice that the window will not open or close easily, or is unsealed, you should screw down the fastening bolts or replace the defective elements.
There is a very simple method of checking the sealing pressure. Take a sheet of paper and slide it between the sash and the window frame. If the paper can be taken out easily when the window is closed, this means that the fittings need to be adjusted. In modern windows, the multi-point locking fixtures have a range of sealing pressure. Depending on the time of year, the sealing pressure should be adjusted accordingly. This will help us avoid the problem of insufficient thermal insulation in the winter and insufficient air exchange in the summer.
Furthermore, to ensure that the fittings are in good working order, they should be lubricated once a year with industrial-grade petroleum jelly.
The gaskets are another group of elements of the window that should be checked, as they are particularly exposed to weather conditions, especially in the bottom section of the frame. Gaskets in appropriate condition are flexible and, when deflected, immediately return to their original shape. They are also resistant to low temperatures. In order to maintain the gasket properties, lubricate them with silicon grease or industrial-grade petroleum jelly. Grease with rubber will provide excellent protection for rubber elements against frost and moisture by creating a protective film. However, if you notice that the gaskets are crumpled, porous or fractured, you should replace them. Remember not to install gaskets during frost.
Following the guidelines listed above will ensure that your window performs its main function in the winter, namely, keeping the heat inside. Furthermore, regular maintenance will ensure the good condition of the joinery elements and will extend their life.