A: You won’t be able to tell if there is no longer any argon in the glass. But, the most common way you can tell if you have a leak period, is if there’s condensation forming in between the two panels of glass on your double-pane window.
When it comes to air and water leaks in the home, windows are the source of the leak about 75% of the time. As Jonathan mentioned it’s impossible to tell if there is argon gas still present between the panes.
However, a quick visual and physical inspection will tell you if your windows are leaking. If there’s condensation between the panes—the window is compromised and yes, it’s likely the gas has escaped. At that point, you would need a replacement, as replacing the panes is not a feasible option, you’d just replace the whole window.
However, some leaks aren’t from the panes at all, some are from the actual window casement—the frame the window sits in. Those are a much simpler fix but we’ll cover that in a moment. For now, let’s talk about how to check to see if your windows are leaking. Early detection of window leaks is critical to preventing further damage to your windows and higher energy bill.
Just because your windows may be brand new and top of the line doesn’t mean they won’t leak. All things being normal, they shouldn’t—but, improper installation and insulation can cause leaks.
So let’s go through a quick guide on how you can check to see if indeed, your windows are leaking.
How To Determine If Your Windows Are Leaking
You need to give your windows a thorough physical inspection to narrow down the likely cause of the leak. Typically it’s a quick and easy process, it just depends on how many windows are in your home.
Close All Your Windows
Sure, captain obvious, but we just want to make sure we’re as clear and concise as possible to ensure a valid conclusion. Also, make sure you lock the windows so that the seal is as tight as it can be. Even if you’re only inspecting windows in one room, you still want to close all windows in the home. This will ensure there’s not a draft that might cause a false positive. Accuracy is key to make sure you correct the issue at hand.
Turn Off Your AC/Furnace And Fans
Again, it’s important to remove any moving air in the home since you’re testing for air leaks. So, make sure your ac or furnace is completely off. Wait about 5 minutes or so to let the system completely cycle off until all air has stopped. What you’re aiming for is for your home to be as still and quiet as possible.
Light A Candle
If there is air leaking in or out of your home a simple flame from a candle will tell you. Sounds too simple, but it works. Any candle will work, although we recommend a skinny tapered candle, like the kind on a dining table. You just need to be able to hold it steady. However, if you don’t have a candle, incense will work in a pinch. Once you light the candle, move it around the window slowly following the edges of the window. If your window is double hung, move it along where the two sashes meet. if the flame flickers or you see the smoke moves oddly—it’s a leak. When using the incense if the smoke moves suddenly in a rapid fashion—it’s a leak.
Not that you don’t know already, but make sure that you keep away from any curtains or window treatments when doing the candle test.
Take A Visual Inspection
While it’s a good practice to test your windows from inside the home for leaks, an exterior visual inspection is also critical. This will allow you to see if there might be any other contributing causes to your windows leaking. Even if the candle test already showed that your windows are leaking, you need the whole picture.
If you don’t inspect the windows you could fix one problem but overlook another contributing issue. Then, you’re back at square one and going through the process all over again a few months later. It’s always better to over-test than to not do enough.
Pull back your window curtains and raise your blinds. Pay close attention to the seams around the perimeter. Do you see any light coming in through a seam? Do your curtains move a bit when the wind is blowing outside and your windows are closed? Even the slightest gap in windows can expand to a much larger and costly problem. If you see something odd, make a note of it and include it on the next step—heading outside to check your exterior.
Just as you did with the interior inspection, you’re looking for gaps in the frame around the window. Also, look to see if the caulking is done properly or see if it has cracked. If your window is a single pane check the seal between the sliding panes to ensure it’s not cracked either. If you notice that it is, you’re dealing with a water leak or an air leak—maybe both.
DIY Fixes If Your Windows Are Leaking
If you find after testing that your windows are leaking there might be a few things that can be done. It all depends on the cause of the leak and the severity. Some leaks can be fixed easily, others are more complex or require complete replacement instead.
Re-caulk The Window
One of the first things you can do to see if it corrects the issue is to re-caulk around the window. It will take a bit of prep work—you’ll need to remove the old caulk. There’s complete kits available with a caulk removal tool at most hardware stores. Otherwise, you can just use a putty knife to remove it.
Caulk comes in a tube with a nozzle at the end, something like a pastry bag for icing a cake. Actually, the process is not much different. You want to cut a hole in the tip at an angle that’s about the width of the gap you want to fill.
Apply the caulk around the edges with a steady flow and then smooth out any rough edges and excess. Make sure it’s not too cold when you do this—above 55° and not very humid is the best for optimal results. If it’s too cold outside the caulk won’t be pliable enough to work with.
Re-glaze If You Have Single Pane Windows
If you have single-pane windows that are relatively old, you can try replacing the putty that secures the glass in place. The process is almost the same as caulking except you’ll need to remove the glass to get the putty off. Then, once you clean off the old putty, you’ll set it back in place after laying down a bead of caulk. You’ll then place glazing points on the wood and cover the perimeter of the glass with a thick layer of glaze. Smooth out the glaze, and clean it up, it will cure on its own.
Not The DIY Type?
Does all of this sound overwhelming? Maybe you aren’t the DIY type or you don’t have the time for it. It’s also a valid point to consider that, even if you do these repairs, with cheap windows it may be in vain.
Single pane windows also called builder windows, are the cheapest of the cheap when it comes to windows. They live up to that description both in price (the old $99 window sound familiar?) and in performance. They have little to no insulation and are horribly inefficient.
You might want to consider replacing your windows with energy-efficient replacement windows. Yes, the cost is greater than these minor, inexpensive repairs. However, in the long run, you will reap the benefits of lower energy bills, a more comfortable climate, and better sound dampening.
If Your Windows Are Leaking We Can Help You
Now that you have gone through the crash course on how to check for window leaks, you can decide. Do you really have the time or the patience to go through all the work to repair something that may not make a difference?
Maybe you’re thinking to yourself “What’s it going to cost me to replace my old drafty windows? We have a question as well—What’s it going to cost you to KEEP your old drafty windows?
Contact us today and check out our great financing specials and affordable, energy-efficient windows.