Repairing a broken window

There are a number of reasons a homeowner might need to enlist the services of a window repair company: cracked windows, minor scratches and broken or rotten window frames are but a few of the problems that are likely to require the attention of a professional tradesman.

Poorly fitted windows which allow a draught to enter a room can also be corrected by window repair companies, potentially saving a homeowner a significant amount of money in heating costs. Tradesmen can also provide and install specialist windows which can reduce noise pollution or alter the amount of sunlight which can enter a room.

The risk of damage to windows can be reduced by simple maintenance tasks which you can do yourself. For example, wooden window frames ought to be protected by an unbroken layer of paint and a good quality finish to guard against rotting.

However, in the event of damage which cannot be foreseen, such as cracks or serious scratches, it is often best to hire a professional tradesman than to attempt to complete the work yourself, to ensure that the task is completed efficiently and safely.

Minor Scratches

If your window has only very minor scratches which are beginning to look unsightly, you need not necessarily employ a professional tradesman to repair the damage. It is possible to remove minor imperfections yourself by polishing the surface of the glass firmly with cerium oxide mixed with water.

You should ensure that you use a leather or hard felt buffing pad to polish out scratches. Cerium oxide and buffing pads designed for polishing glass are readily available in DIY stores.

It is also possible to buy window polishing kits in shops and on the internet. That said, it is worth finding out what the contents of the kit are before you buy to ensure that you could not buy the items more cheaply separately.

Please note that polishing will only work on minor scratches; if you can feel the scratch when you run your finger over the surface of the glass, cerium oxide is unlikely to be of any help. It may still be possible, however, to fix the scratch yourself by filling it with resin. Detailed instructions on how to accomplish this can be found in DIY manuals or in window repair kits, which can be purchased at DIY stores.

If a scratch is large or very noticeable, it might be less hassle to have the glass replaced. Tape a polythene sheet over the scratch to ensure that no-one cuts themselves on the rough edge, and consult a professional window repairer.

My window has been cracked and is damaged beyond repair. Can I just replace the glass myself?

It is possible to buy replacement glass and complete the task yourself, particularly if you are only replacing a pane of glass on an internal door, rather than one of your external windows. Ensure that you tell the supplier what exactly the replacement glass is for, and where it will be fitted. Take the measurements of the frame with you, as suppliers will usually cut the glass for you.

Bear in mind, however, that it may well be less hassle to hire a professional window repairer for external window replacements. Your money will buy you the peace of mind of knowing that the job has been completed professionally, and that your window is well-fitted and secure.

Whilst it might be tempting to try to save money by attempting the work yourself, remember that a well-fitted double glazed window can lead to significant savings on your heating bill, while a poorly fitted window can allow energy to escape easily. Well-fitted windows will also make your home more secure.

My window has a large crack in it, but the window repairer I have contacted cannot come immediately. What shall I do in the meantime?

It is worth bearing in mind that many window repair companies provide emergency services.

If a broken window is a threat to the security of your home or you feel that its repair cannot wait, it is worth trying to find a tradesman who can respond immediately.

Companies may mention an emergency service in their advertisements, or, if your situation is genuinely urgent, you could try contacting companies listed to find out if they might be able to respond more quickly than they otherwise would.

While you are waiting for a repairman to arrive, it is important to ensure that the window is as safe and secure as possible. If there is a large crack, cover it with polythene and tape it firmly in place to reduce the risk of the window being damaged any further or someone being injured by the rough edges of the crack.

I need to replace the glass in my unit. What type of glass should be used?

This depends upon where the window is and its purpose. If you have children who will be playing near an external window, for example, tougher glass will reduce the risk of the glass being smashed by a stray ball. Experts can advise you of the differences in the types of glass they provide, and advise you of which would best meet your requirements.

It's worth bearing in mind that, by law, glass in the external windows of your house should meet the requirements of the General Product Safety Regulations (1994), which stipulates that glass which breaks safely ought to be used. This means that if the glass is subjected to a heavy impact it will crack, rather than shatter, reducing the risk of injury from sharp pieces of glass.

Glasses deemed to be suitable for domestic use are generally described as 'safety glasses' and include 'toughened glass,' which is treated with heat to toughen it up, and laminated glass, which is formed from two layers of glass attached to a plastic layer which prevents the glass from shattering if it is broken. Whilst safety glasses are more expensive than ordinary glass their excellent durability makes them good value.<.p>

Safety will not be your only concern, of course. The type of windows you choose has an impact upon the style of your house and so you may well want to give some thought to the ascetic effect of your choice, in addition to its practicality. A wide range of different windows are now available:

  • Stained Glass – Stained glass comes in a variety of different designs and colours. Companies generally keep brochures in order to show customers the range of designs they offer.
  • Patterned or textured glass – It is possible to use patterned or textured glass on external windows. However, this glass is more commonly used for panes of glass in doors and windows inside the house. It is perfect for bathroom doors with glass panels and for bathroom windows, as the texture can make the window more opaque. Textured glass can also be used to reduce the amount of sunlight which comes into a room. A variety of styles and designs are available, so you can choose something that complements the style and décor of your home.
  • Georgian Designs – Window companies can also install a number of small or rectangular panes of glass in a grilled pattern.

My window is damaged beyond repair and I have decided to employ a window repair company to replace it. I have heard that a particular type of glass could reduce my heating bills. Is this true?

Yes. Double glazing can reduce your heating bills as it ensures that less heat is lost to the atmosphere.

If low emissivity (commonly called 'Low E') or 'Pilkington K' glass is used, heating bills can be reduced even further. Pilkington K glass has a special coating which works by reflecting heat in the air gap between the two sheets of glass of a double glazed window back into the room rather than allowing it to escape into the atmosphere.

If you look closely, it is usually possible to see a thin transparent coating on Pilkington K glass. Therefore, if you decide to pay extra for Pilkington K glass when replacing a window, it is worth checking that a company is installing the correct type of glass. Whilst you may be tempted to go for the cheaper alternative and use ordinary glass, it is advisable to consider investing in low emissivity or Pilkington K glass, as you will save money in the long term by conserving energy.

Sound Insulation

If you are replacing your window, it might also be worth considering the potential benefits of windows designed to reduce noise pollution. Sound insulation is usually achieved by widening the airspace between the two layers of glass or by using laminated glass. If you find noise to be a particular problem, you might even want to think about using both.

My windows have wooden frames and they are beginning to rot. Do I need a window repair company?

Window frames are usually made of soft woods. Damage can be minimised by ensuring that the paint is well-finished, as this prevents water from getting to the wood. If, however, water damage does occur to the window frame, the rotten rail ought to be replaced as quickly as possible to prevent the rest of the frame from rotting.

If the damage has not spread, it might be necessary to replace only one rail. It is sometimes possible to do this without removing the glass from the frame. However, unless you are sure of exactly what you are doing, it is best to entrust this task to a professional window repairer, rather than risk breaking the glass. If it is necessary to replace the whole frame, it might be worth considering having a more durable metal or UPVC frame installed, to avoid a recurrence of the problem in the future.

Where can I find a reliable window repair company?

A company recommended by someone who has first-hand knowledge of the quality of their work is always best. If there is no-one in your area who has recently used the services of a window repair company, a vast number of window repair companies are listed on the internet. If you do not know anyone who has first-hand experience of a company, don't be afraid to ask for references, or to see an example of their work.

How much will it cost?

Prices vary widely and the cost will depend upon the amount of work there is to do, the type of frame and the extent of the damage. Reputable companies will provide detailed quotations on request.

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