If by ‘insets’ you mean the glass panes themselves, it is unlikely the glass itself is leaking – unless the glass is cracked – but more likely the putty (not used so much these days) or the mechanism that holds the glass in place. If that mechanism (or the putty) is failing, it might be possible to get just that part repaired, but if the window and window frame are simply damaged from old age, it might be time for a replacement of the entire window. By the way, people are often surprised at how little it can cost to replace an entire window. What most people expect an invoice for in the thousands can often be in the hundreds for a modern, brand new window, fully installed. In the meantime, let’s look at how a window works, and what functions it performs.
A short history of windows
Glass windows have been around for many hundreds of year, but for the longest time, they were confined to cathedrals and the homes of the very rich. The poorer masses had to contend with openings through which air and the elements could pass through, or they simply lived in dwellings that had wooded ‘doors’ where now glass would go. They would “open a window” to let light in. The rest of the time, they lived in the dark or near dark when they were indoors. An indoor fire might give them some light, along with torches of fire when they needed to visit the outside bathroom for that urgen middle of the night business.
Glass, a few hundred years ago, was expensive. Few people had money, and that was why few had glass windows. Once glass became affordable by almost any homeowner, indoor life changed radically. What’s more, windows became bigger. Houses were therefore constructed differently. Still glass did cost money, and for a while, the mark of a wealthy family was how big their windows were. Crime, too, had an influence, because it was harder to secure a house with windows than a house with boarded up windows and doors. Even today, windows in high crime neighborhoods often have bars fixed in place over the windows to deter would-be intruders.
Glass windows – the panes themselves – were separate from the frames. Window panes could be replaced by breaking away the putty around the pane, installing a new pane, then replacing the old putty with new putty. When it dried and hardened, it would hold the glass pane in place and would be more or less as secure as a window could be.
With the advent of double and triple glazing, a ‘pane’ did not arrive as a single sheet. Two (double-glazing) or three (triple-glazing) panes of glass were joined together within a unit, complete with sealed gaps between the panes. When one pane breaks, however, the whole unit usually needs to be replaced. Those gaps between the panes are factory sealed for a reason. There can be no moisture, dust or anything within that gap, or it may compromise the function and/or appearance of the window later. Whatever is put between those panes in multiple glazing situations helps the performance of the window:
Insulation from the elements.
Noise reduction from outside.
Reduction of ultraviolet light coming into the home.
Maximization of privacy.
If you have even seen a double-glazed window where moisture has managed to get inside that protective gap between the panes, you will understand how important it is that it is a sealed unit. Grubby looking condensation appears and disappears from season to season. It is unsightly and it compromises the correct and full function of the window. If moisture is getting in, then heat may be escaping.
Let’s look at the functions of a modern window:
Insulation from the elements
Heating (or cooling) a house is expensive. If you’ve ever simply left your heating on for an entire month – day and night – you can see how much of your utility costs are directly heating related. If, on top of that expense, you have leaky or faulty windows that are allowing that precious hot air to escape all day long, the heating system has to work harder to keep your home at your desired temperature. It also might be giving you a drafty house, where the air blowing through gaps all winter long are increasing the chances someone in your family will get sick from it.
Noise reduction from outside
Because a window frame presents the thinnest barrier between the inside and the outside of you home or office, it’s where noise transfer is the easiest. In the case of a single glazed pane of glass, it’s where road noise and general outside sounds can make their way into the house easily. Couple with that a leaky window, and the noise can make its way into the house easily. Many people are surprised by the new level of peace and quiet in their house when they first experience their newly installed windows. On a busy street, windows facing the road are often good candidates for triple glazing.
Reduction of ultraviolet light coming into the home
We humans are at a health risk when exposed to too much ultraviolet light. That’s why we have sunblock and why we wear protective clothing and sunglasses at certain times. UV light also damages property such as carpets, furniture and curtains. Windows that offer full or almost full ultraviolet protection increase the life of your carpets, curtains and residents of your home.
Maximization of privacy
Sometimes a slight tint in the window panes gives you enough privacy that people cannot see into your home from the street or from your neighbor’s house., or from the vantage point of a bus driving past your house. If a window you are considering replacing has such an issue, talk to your glazing expert about privacy protection.
New windows on a home can make it look great! Both from an interior and an exterior point of view, new windows can make a room feel more comfortable. And if you are considering a painting project, lining that project up with the replacement of windows can transform the look of a house completely.
Check back next week!