Vinyl windows and doors are a great addition to any home, especially since they are low maintenance and easy to clean. But if neglected, regular use and exposure to the elements can cause your doors and windows, as well as the hardware, including hinges, handles, and locks to show signs of wear and tear, and lose their appeal.
Here are some tips for cleaning and maintaining doors and windows made from different materials:
I. Annual Maintenance for doors and windows
Proper and timely maintenance of your doors and windows will not only keep them operating smoothly, but also keep them effective in keeping harsh weather out. Here are a few things to do at least once a year:
- Check the weatherstripping between the sash and frame to ensure that it is still effective in sealing air and water.
- Assess the interior and exterior finish of your windows to determine whether any repair is necessary. When applying paint, varnish, or stains to damaged wood surfaces, be careful not to drip any of these materials on the weatherstrip as it could cause it to lose its flexibility.
- Vacuum dirt and debris from sill and track areas before each washing.
- Ensure that the weep holes, located outside the door or window in the bottom of the frame, are clear of dirt or any obstructions. You can clear the opening using a soft bottle brush.
- Lubricate rollers, trucks, and any moving hardware components regularly. If you live in a coastal environment with salt-air environment, you may need to lubricate on a monthly basis.
- Adjust the height clearance of sliding door rollers. Remember to lift the panel so there is no weight on the roller during adjustment.
II. Caring for Vinyl Window Frames
You can let the rainfall clean most of the dirt that settles on your vinyl frames. But you may occasionally:
- Clean the frame with a mixture of mild dish soap and water – test any cleaner on an inconspicuous spot before proceeding;
- Rinse the surface thoroughly with clean water and dry it with a soft cloth;
- Clean the weep holes and tracks to keep them functioning properly;
- Check the hardware and weatherstripping every four to six months.
Don’t use caustic, abrasive, or petroleum-based cleaners or solvents as they could permanently damage the frame finish.
III. Caring for Aluminum Windows
Allowing moisture, dust, and other debris to accumulate on aluminum surfaces can affect the durability of your windows. Light surface dirt is typically washed off by rainfall, though you can also:
- Wash aluminum frames with warm water, a mild detergent (not necessary), and a soft bristled brush at least every six months. However, avoid using harsh detergents that may scratch the surface.
- Rinse the frames using clean water to remove all traces of the detergent.
- Unblock the drain holes to the outer frame sill channels to ensure that excess moisture drains well away from your house.
- Use a vacuum or brush to keep the window tracks free from dust, sand, and insects. This will ensure smooth function of roller wheels as they glide in their tracks.
- Check for the presence of mildew on the aluminum cladding by placing a drop of household bleach on the spot. Tiny gas bubbles appearing and the spot bleaching out indicates the presence of mildew, which can be removed using a basic solution of 80 ml (1/3 cup) of powder laundry detergent; 160 ml trisodium phosphate (TSP); I litre (1 quart) of household bleach; and 3 litres of water. Don’t increase the concentration, as you risk damaging the finish or coating. Use a soft bristle brush to gently apply the solution, and then rinse it well afterwards with clean water.
IV. Cleaning Glass
Keep in mind that glass should not be washed in direct sunlight. So, on a cloudy day:
- Prepare a mixture of water and mild dish soap
- Rinse thoroughly with clean water and then use a soft cloth to dry the glass to avoid water spots.
Avoid rinsing your windows with a high-pressure spray nozzle as this could damage the surface.
V. Caring for Timber Doors
Wooden doors can dramatically improve your curb appeal with their natural beauty, but they should be well taken care of to keep them looking beautiful and functioning well for years. Here are some tips to maintain wood doors:
- Re-coat painted wood doors every 12 to 24 months to keep them looking good and renew their ability to withstand the harsh weather;
- Re-coat varnished doors annually, since exposure to UV can break down the varnish and expose the timber to damage from the elements;
- Door hinges, locks, and handles should be cleaned, checked for tightening, and lubricated regularly.
VI. Caring for the Screens
Screens play a vital role in your doors and windows. They let the clean, outside air in while keeping insects out. As a result, they pick up a lot of dirt and debris.
To clean the screens, you will have to remove them (work from the outside) and lay them on a flat clean surface. Use a garden hose to spray off the dust and debris with water. Allow them to completely air dry before replacing.
It is advisable to remove screens during winter as they may gather snow and ice that cause them to sag.
When performing routine maintenance, always put your safety first. This means wearing protective eyewear and clothing, being cautious when using ladders, and following the manufacturer’s instructions when using and disposing of cleaning solutions, primers, stains, paints, and other materials.