As the old saying goes, if you take care of something, it will last longer. This is just as true for the vinyl windows in your Toronto home. Your quality vinyl replacement windows are built to last a long time anyway, but factors like weather can have an effect on their life expectancy. Just like the vinyl siding on a house, vinyl clad windows need regular cleaning and inspection to ensure that they are still in good shape to keep doing their job right. That job, of course, is to provide lighting and ventilation for your Toronto home, as well as provide a satisfactory thermal barrier to insulate inside from outside.
The Dos and Don’ts & vinyl windows
- Don’t use abrasive cleaners. These can not only damage the vinyl cladding on your windows, but also the seals that keep your windows airtight.
- Don’t use strong chemical cleaners, like engine degreaser or oven cleaner, as these will also damage the material of your windows.
- Don’t use anything that will scratch, gouge, or otherwise damage the windows to clean them. This includes razor blade scrapers or steel wool.
- Don’t try to clean your windows with any type of high-pressure water sprayer like a power washer. This high water pressure can damage the seals or even lift the vinyl cladding, causing loss of seal, or corrosion to the underlying metal components.
- Don’t lubricate your windows with any type of oil-based lubricant, such as WD-40, because they can attract dirt.
- Don’t attempt to paint or lacquer your vinyl windows.
In attempting to take care of your windows, the last thing you would want to do is shorten their lives.
- Start with warm, soapy water and a soft cloth.
- Refer to your manufacturer’s paperwork or manual for the approved cleaning methods.
- Use a silicone based spray lubricant, if lubrication is necessary.
- To safely clean screens, use the soft brush attachment on your vacuum cleaner.
- Stick with a regular, over the counter, ammonia based window cleaner for the tough spots.
If you do have some tough spots that need extra attention, try a little hydrogen peroxide, again applied with a soft cloth, to clean away spots, then re-clean the window in the traditional manner. Note, you don’t want to leave any residue that may contain substances that will corrode the vinyl cladding. Using a power washer to clean your replacement vinyl windows, in most cases, will void the manufacturer’s warranty. Your windows are not designed to withstand the levels of water pressure your power washer can produce, and losing a seal on a multi-pane window can produce fogging between the panes.
If you feel your windows need a little more than just Windex, a regular household surface cleaner like Fantastik or 409 can help, but don’t be tempted to use anything with even the mildest abrasive agent, like SotfScrub, because even minor scratching will do permanent, irreversible damage. Furniture polish, cleaners containing organic solvents, nail polish remover, paint thinner and chlorine bleach are potentially damaging to the vinyl surface as well, so don’t take unnecessary risks.
Vinyl Windows: What Works and What Doesn’t
If you are thinking about painting the vinyl trim on your replacement windows, don’t do it. Paints and varnish can weaken the vinyl cladding, causing it to lift away from the metal, exposing it to the elements, causing corrosion on parts that were never meant to see the light of day. Keep in mind, most types of paint will not adhere to vinyl or plastics anyway, and will blister, flake and peel, making your windows look worse, instead of better.
Using a paint scraper, steel wool or heavy duty cleaning pad like Scotchbrite may scratch the glass or the vinyl. A nice gouge in the seal around the glass may cause “seal failure” which not only fogs the window and voids the warranty, but completely defeats the window’s energy efficiency. These windows are designed with two or more panes of glass with an inert gas between them to prevent conduction of heat or cold from one side of the window to the other. With your home’s heating and cooling bills hanging in the balance, don’t make any hasty decisions about cleaning them.
You will also want to keep the tracks clean to prevent dirt and debris from causing unnecessary wear, or clogging the tracks. A stiff bristled nylon brush, along with some soapy water, will get these tracks clean without much fuss. Remember, if you believe these tracks need some lubrication, stick with silicone based lubricant spray that won’t attract dirt the way petroleum based products do.
Keep It Sweet and Simple
Your vinyl windows are specifically designed to be low-maintenance, and easy to keep clean. Don’t over-think the cleaning process when a little soapy water will work just fine. It is always a good idea to consult your manufacturer’s paperwork or warranty information when you have questions regarding the care and use of your vinyl replacement windows, and if you have a question that isn’t covered, don’t hesitate to look for a toll-free number to call. Most manufacturers include contact information for this exact reason.
If you think your vinyl window has sustained damage from some other source, call the manufacturers immediately to help determine the best course of action. Your vinyl replacement windows aren’t cheap, and if there is a problem that may be covered by the warranty, you will want to get it taken care of as quickly as possible. Remember, it’s all about making your vinyl replacement windows last as long as you can, so don’t cut corners or look for shortcuts. Honestly, the easiest thing you can do is, while watering the lawn or spraying down the vinyl siding, give your windows a quick spray with the garden hose. This will work better than you might expect. And also remember if you are interested in vinyl windows for your Toronto home or office, call Toronto Doors and Windows. We’ll be happy to help!
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