How To

Window seal broken? No need to replace window, just glass.

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By Jeanne Huber
Special to The Washington Post
Thursday, August 19, 2010

Q We live in a 15-year-old house with double-pane wood windows. After I washed them, I noticed moisture showing between the panes on two windows. The problem windows are 4 by 6 feet, with mullions between the panes. Can I eliminate the water vapor and reseal the windows? I figure repairing them would cost less than replacing them, and the repaired windows would still match the others.

Fairfax Station

A There is no way to reseal windows once they become cloudy. Even if you could patch the sealant, the desiccant hidden within the spacers that separate the panes has absorbed all of the moisture it can; this is why the glass looks foggy.

Because your house was built 15 years ago, you might want to start by checking whether the windows are under warranty. If you don't know the manufacturer, look for an identifying sticker. It's often on the top frame of the window. If you find only initials or a code, a building-supply company may be able to help you decipher the company's name and help you contact them.

If there is no warranty, call a glass company for an estimate of the cost of replacing just the glass units in the windows. This kind of replacement leaves the trim intact. Make sure mullions in the replacement units are the same width as those in the original windows, which will keep all of your windows looking the same.

The cost will be considerably less than installing new windows, but you're still likely to gulp at the amount: $600 to $800 per window for ones the size of yours, estimates Reed Arrak, project manager at Amalfi Glass & Mirror, which works in Northern Virginia, Washington and Maryland (http://www.amalfiglass.com).

Have a problem in your home? Send home improvement questions to localliving@washpost.com. Please put "How To" in the subject line and tell us where you live.


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