Are your wood windows showing signs of their age? Wood is particularly susceptible to moisture problems in the form of rot, especially as time and weather do their damage.
But just how bad is it if your windows are rotting? And how do you address the problem? Here’s what you need to know and what to do if your windows have wood rot.
What Makes Wood Windows Rot?
Obviously, the culprit behind rotting wood is moisture—but let’s look a little closer at the issue. As your windows age, they get exposed to rain, hail, ice, wind, and pests—all of which can take a toll on wood. Add to that a lack of upkeep (such as peeling paint that isn’t fixed), and moisture gets into the wood and wears it down.
Signs Your Windows Are Rotting
Wood rot causes several symptoms that you can keep an eye out for. Check your windows for:
When wood rots, it becomes soft and spongy. If you notice the wooden window frame gives easily under your touch or under pressure from a screwdriver, you have wood rot.
Moldy odors and stains
Excess moisture invites mold to grow, so you are likely to see brown and black stains and mildew-like odors in and around your wood windows. If so, rot is also likely to be present.
Moisture also causes paint and wood stains to blister, peel, and loosen. And that damage exposes the wood underneath to dampness which leads to rot.
As wood rots, other related moisture issues crop up—such as discolored or stained shingles and trim.
Gaps or Loose Areas
Rotting wood begins to wear away and lose its shape, which may lead to gaps between the window frame and your walls. Parts of the frame may be loose.
How to Solve Wood Rot in Your Windows
Once your wood windows begin to rot, the problem will simply grow worse—because rot spreads! And it can move from your window frames to other wooden parts of your home’s inner structure. So, it’s vital to address the issue.
Depending on how advanced the moisture damage is and your personal preferences, you can consider these three options:
1. Apply an epoxy treatment
If you manage to catch wood rot very early, you may be able to treat the weak spot with an epoxy coating. This solution only works if the piece of wood you’re fixing is at least 80-85% intact.
To use epoxy, you will first need to gently remove the small spots of wood rot with a tool like a chisel until only healthy wood remains. Choose an epoxy designed for wood, mix it, and apply it to the damaged area with a putty knife.
2. Replace the damaged piece
Once the wood is damaged more significantly than epoxy can handle, replacement becomes necessary. If only one section of the wood window frame is affected (while others remain healthy), then you might remove the rotten piece and install fresh wood in its place.
This approach is obviously much more involved than a quick epoxy treatment. You’ll need to fit the wood piece precisely, ensure the window’s structure remains secure, and match the design and tint to make the repair look good.
3. Install new windows
Once windows suffer from wood rot, it can be hard to get rid of all the damaged areas safely. Rot is sneaky, and it can foster mold and mildew too. The problems can add up all too quickly, and repairs are notoriously difficult to do effectively.
Aging windows with significant wood rot are best updated with new ones. Today’s replacement windows are designed to resist moisture damage, condensation, and mold growth—without requiring constant upkeep. And they’ll boost energy efficiency and bring in fresh air and natural light too.
Window Installations You Can Count on to Last
If you see signs that your wooden windows are rotting, it’s best to consult a professional windows contractor to assess your home. If the rot is significant, it may be time to invest in an upgrade that gives you lasting peace of mind about your Chicago home.