Wood windows are still the preferred choice for some home owners, whether because of their appearance or their insulating qualities. Unfortunately, wood can also be prone to some issues that don't affect vinyl or aluminum windows. The following are some trouble signs with wood that may indicate that it's time for a replacement or a repair.
This can happen to any part of the exposed window exterior, but the inside of the window isn't immune. The sill and lower part of the frame tends to be more prone to rot because this is where moisture accumulates. Rot is sometimes visible, or you can check for it by gently probing the window with a screw driver. If the wood fills soft or spongy, you will need to have it replaced. There is no way to reverse rot once the integrity of the wood is compromised.
The seals and weather stripping around the windows are the key to preventing moisture. Make sure that you inspect these regularly to ensure they are still tight-fitting. Check the windows during windy weather or wet weather for signs of drafts or leakage. If seal problems are caught early, you can simply have the window seals replaced instead of dealing with rot problems.
Paint is what protects the wood from moisture. If the paint is beginning to wear thin or peel off, it's time to have the windows repainted before moisture damage occurs. This isn't just for exterior windows – the interior frames also require a decent paint job to protect them from moisture in the air and condensation. Although the interior is slower to suffer water damage, it isn't immune. This is especially true in wet or cold weather, when condensation often forms on the glass and collects on the sill.
Wood swells and shrinks in response to environmental conditions, including temperature and humidity. This can lead to gaps at the joints. These gaps aren't just unattractive, they can also give moisture access to the wood and lead to rot. A silicone or rubberized caulk is the preferred fix, because it has some give so it won't pull away as the wood shrinks and swells. If the gaps are too large for caulk to repair, there is an issue with the window frames and you may need to have them replaced.
Contact a local window contractor if you need help repairing or replacing your current wood windows.