One of the most important parts of a complete home inspection is a visual and operational checkup of the structure’s windows. More than just glass and wood, windows can reveal a great deal about home: how well it has been maintained, its level of energy efficiency, and whether other problem may be lurking elsewhere, such as wood-destroying insects and moisture penetration.
Windows that need to be replaced or repaired per the home inspector’s recommendations often become a major point used to negotiate a final sale price for a home. On average, you’re looking at from $3,000 to $10,000 to replace all the windows in a three-bedroom home—and that doesn’t account for custom work. It’s why a fair and balanced evaluation of a home’s windows is critical. For the seller, a home inspection report indicating that the windows are in good shape can become a nice feature to promote the listing.
Here are a few common window issues found by the inspectors at A-Pro Home Inspection:
Air Leakage: Statistics indicate that about 10% of a home’s air leakage occurs at its windows. A visual exterior and interior inspection will indicate if there are gaps between window frames and the home’s siding that may be causing energy loss.
Wood Frame Damage: When checking the exterior trim of windows, one of the most frequent issues discovered by home inspectors is decaying and warped wood. This occurs when water collects in spots where it has no means of escaping. Surfaces that are not properly sloped can trap water and compromise the structure. This problem can be more than cosmetic because rotting wood can provide an easy entry for rainwater, leading to damage of the home’s framing. The inspector will check for staining, which may indicate interior decay.
Window Pane Damage: The inspector will report on any window pane cracks, which can pose safety threats, energy loss, and increased risk of shattering under stress.
Poor Construction: When a home inspector sees that caulk has been used instead of flashing to block water penetration at the top of window trim, this is cause for concern. Well-installed flashing, in the form of a metal strip, does an excellent job of preventing interior water damage. This is not the case with caulking, which can lose its effectiveness over time.
Fogging: Damaged seals in insulated windows can let moisture and dust settle and condense on the glass’s interior surface. A blown window seal is often the cause of the hazy film appearance on some windows. This can also reduce the window’s R-value (its capacity to block heat flow).
Opening Issues: Inspectors will manually attempt to open windows and report on those that are completely stuck or difficult to open. In some cases, stubborn or stuck windows may be an indication of foundation settlement.
Missing and Broken Parts: Locks that don’t work, missing or damaged screens, and obvious problems such as the absence of handles will be noted.
A complete window assessment is part of an A-Pro 500-point home inspection. To schedule an inspection, call 360-489-6100