Window repairs are an unpleasant task, but may become a necessity due to weather, vandalism, or accidents. Damaged or broken windows can cause a lot of mental disquiet, as they leave your home open to the outside world. It is best to replace a broken or damaged window as soon as you possibly can, to minimize the effects of weather on your interior, as well as prevent hoodlums from picking your house as an easy target. Being able to "do it yourself" will allow you to correct the problem as soon as it arises. Being capable of basic window repairs will also save you money, as hiring a contractor to do this work will incur both material and labor costs.
When removing a pane of broken glass from a window, wear protective gloves and goggles. If the window is on the ground floor, you can repair it without removing it. If, however, it is on a higher floor, and it is a removable frame, such as a casement, then it is much safer and easier to take the casement off and repair the window on a work bench. A fixed window, however, will have to be repaired with the help of a strong ladder (Clearly, if you have access to a scaffold tower, this is a much safer alternative.)
Step 1: Removing Broken Glass
If the window has shattered completely, leaving jagged edges sticking into the putty, try to pull out each bit individually, starting from the top. Make sure you have several sheets of cardboard to lay the broken pieces down on. Continue until you have removed all the glass possible and then continue to step 2.
If the window has fragmented but has remained in the frame, start by fixing sticky tape all over the broken window. A strong packing tape is adequate but 'gaffer tape' or 'duck tape' is preferable.
If there is just one or two cracks, use a glass cutter to score the glass the whole way round, about an inch in from the frame and then to score additional lines from top to bottom and from side to side. Next cover it with several lengths of tape, as described above.
Cover the area under the window with a sheet of plywood or a tarpaulin. If you are working from a height, make sure that no-one will walk underneath by putting up barriers and warning signs.
From inside, tap right round and across the window until the glass falls out and is only held by the tape.
Step 2: Removing the Putty
Once you have removed most of the glass, use an old, blunt wood chisel and a hammer to clean out the putty the whole way along the rebate. Wherever you come to a tack, or sprig, pull it out with a pair of fine pliers or pincers. Again, start at the top since the putty will have bits of glass in it. When you have removed all the putty, sand the rebate down lightly and then treat it with a wood preservative.
At this point, stop and clear up all the broken glass, old sprigs and old putty. If you are putting it in your own rubbish bin, make sure that it is well-wrapped up so that no shards can damage anyone handling it.
Step 3: The New Glass
Measure the opening from the inside of the rebates and order your new glass. It should be 3mm smaller than the opening on all four sides. In the meantime, fix either a sheet of strong polythene or a sheet of plywood over the opening.
As well as the glass, you will need new sprigs and either linseed putty or an acrylic glazing compound. (If your glass is double-glazed, you need to use a butyl compound, which is flexible and non-setting â€“ the instructions are the same as for putty.) Acrylic glazing compound is more expensive than linseed putty but comes in a tube and is easy to apply using a sealant gun.
If you are working with linseed putty, warm it first. Apply a bed of putty (read this for glazing compound if that is what you are using) right round the rebate with a putty knife. Lower the edge of the new glass onto the bottom of the rebate, pressing it into the putty and then push it gently into the frame, only pushing at the edges of the glass. Tap the sprigs into the frame, 6 to 8 inches apart, all along the glass. Use the blunt edge of the chisel for this and ensure that the sprigs are lying flat against the glass. Apply a second layer of putty to the outside of the rebate, so that it covers the sprigs and can be moulded to slope upwards against the glass at an angle of 45 degrees with the putty knife. Keep wetting the knife in warm water so that you can go right round the window and work the putty smooth. Clear any smears of putty off the glass.
Linseed putty will need about 3 weeks to set firmly â€“ acrylic putty is ready to paint after a few days. When you paint it, let the paint overlap the putty by a few millimetres onto the glass. This forms a weathershield over the putty.
Where Can I Buy Window Repair Materials?
Window repair materials can be found at most hardware stores - whatever your local hardware store is, they should be well equipped with window panes, frames, acrylic glaze, and tools you don't already have. Hardware stores are also great places to get expert advice from people who have "been there, done that" - their tips and tricks might make your job significantly easier. You can also do your shopping online, and there are numerous hardware retailers that would love to have your business. Even Amazon, which formerly specialized in books, has window repair supplies, so you should have no problem finding what you need. Of course, if you have a broken window, you probably want the problem solved as quickly as possible, so waiting for supplies to arrive may not be desirable.