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Fall Back to Basic Window and Door Care

By Gates Dearen
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Now that the dog days of summer are just about over in Florida, it’s a great time to assess the condition of your windows and doors.  Even if your windows and doors are relatively new, they are not bulletproof. This should be all too apparent for those of you who weathered Hurricane Irma recently.  Wind and weather can take their toll on windows and doors, just like they do on your home’s roof.   With Fall being just around the corner, these tips will help you get a jump on the season before Winter arrives.
It’s All a Big Frame
Whether you’re considering your doors or windows, you need to assess their frames for starters.  Both windows and doors have frames, and they are likely culprits when it comes to the loss of efficiency and/or function. 
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Door frames start with a casing that covers the gap between the door jamb and the wall.  It also contains decorative molding, which you need to inspect for any cracks since this is the part of the frame that is exposed to the elements.  The best way to inspect the frame is to open the door, which will also expose the sill at the bottom of the door.  Make sure the door opens and closes securely.  While inside your home, close the door and check to see if there is any daylight coming through the frame.  If you see daylight, you will need to either adjust the door’s hinges, or you need to replace the weather stripping.  This should close any gaps. 
Window frames are a little more complicated since they not only allow you to open and close the windows, but modern windows have 1 or 2 sashes which allow windows to be slid up and down and canted inward for easy cleaning.  Just as with the doors, you want to check the window frames for cracks and the sashes for ease of operation.  Balky sashes are clear evidence that something is not as it should be and this usually spells the loss of seal integrity.  This is also a good time to check for any rot or decay if your window frames are made of wood.
The Doors
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When it comes to the doors themselves, there are several other areas of concern that you need to be made aware.  If your doors have sidelights, which are decorative glass insets that allow sunlight in, they can also potentially let air in and out.  One of the best ways to determine if the sidelights leak is to close the door and light a candle.  Hold the candle close to the sidelights and see if the flame flickers.  If it does, your sidelights have a leak, which needs to be sealed. 
High winds can loosen more than window panes.  They can undermine locks, split doorjambs, loosen strike plates and separate thresholds.  After a major storm has come and gone is a good time to inspect your entry doors from top to bottom.  When you consider the fact that a windstorm can easily exert a force of up to 800 pounds, the last thing you want to do is find out the hard way that your doors aren’t up to par.  If your entry doors were manufactured before 1964, it is highly unlikely that they are wind rated or properly debris resistant. 
With the door open, check to see if it has become even slightly warped by wind or water.  The best way to do this is to take a yardstick and hold it to the door.  If the door bows even slightly away from or toward the yardstick, then it is warped.  Are any of the door panels cracked?  This is another sign that the door needs to be repaired or replaced.  You would be surprised at the amount of water that can get through even a slightly cracked or warped door. 
The Windows
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Where most houses have only 2-3 entry doors, they have far more windows.  Not to mention the fact that where doors are made of wood, windows are made of glass.  Their fragility and complexity can lead to their undoing.  The best way to inspect your windows is to look first at the glass, then at the other components. 
While cracks in window panes are obvious, other forms of damage are more difficult to detect.  For instance, if you notice condensation between the panes, this is a sure sign of weather intrusion.  What this means is that the seal or the weather stripping has failed which allows either air or moisture to enter your home.  If left to its own devices, this could result in water damage or the pane could pop out during the next windstorm.
The two best ways to detect this problem early is to tilt your windows in or out and give them a good shake to see if any panes rattle.  If a pane is loose enough to rattle, it is in imminent danger of failing and needs to be repaired or replaced immediately.  If the panes seem secure, close and latch the window before performing the same candle test you did with the door.  This will show you if any air is escaping from or intruding into your house, which indicates that corrective action is needed.
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If you really want to determine whether your windows and doors are weathertight, you can have a home air pressure test performed by trained professionals.  The way this is accomplished is to mount powerful fans into one of your home’s doorframes.  Once activated, the blowers will lower the ambient pressure in your home.  Then by using a smoke pencil, even minute air leaks in windows or doors will be readily apparent.  While conducting a home air pressure test might set you back a few dollars, just think of how much less it costs when compared to the amount of damage that could be caused the next time the wind howls and the rain comes down in buckets. 
More importantly, by eliminating any air or water intrusion now, you will save money on your electric bill for years to come.  The bottom line is if you spend a little time and money now, you will save that much and more in the future.
If you are considering replacing any of your windows or doors, feel free to contact me at HomeRite Windows and Doors in Jacksonville.  
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HomeRite is a window and door dealer that specializes in energy efficient, quality products with warranties and service to match. The company has been in business since 2005. HomeRite is partnered with a manufacturer that has been producing high-quality products and providing excellent customer service for over 60 years. Windows and doors from HomeRite are some of the highest quality, most thermally efficient windows and doors on the market.

HomeRite products add substantial value to their clients’ properties. HomeRite is a member of the United States Green Building Council, a non-profit organization comprised of leaders across the industry working to advance environmentally responsible buildings.

Gates Dearen is the co-owner of HomeRite Windows and Doors in Jacksonville, FloridaHe and Richard Walden have been serving the building products industry in Florida for over 25 years. They strive to match homeowners with the right windows and doors for their homes and budgets. They make the home improvement process pleasant with first-rate, energy-efficient products, affordable pricing, and award-winning installers who employ the best practices and who always treat customers and their property with the utmost respect.


  1. Yes, fall is almost here and it time for me to do my regular house checkup. So far I have been happy to only find a windows left open. No leaks except those self inflicted.

  2. I'm sure a lot of people learned how vulnerable their windows and doors were after Hurricane Irma. Lesson learned?