Sometimes it happens overnight: you go to bed and your window is perfectly fine. You wake up the next morning, and see the crack. Cracks come in different shapes and sizes. Sometimes a crack in your window might be one long, thin line running from trim to trim. Sometimes it’s more contained – just a few veins stretching out at the corner of your window.
Neither of these cracks say anything good about the health of your window, or your home. A cracked window can mean a drafty home, or it could spell problems with your window down the line.
But why do windows crack? Sometimes the reasons are obvious. A bad storm or debris can cause windows to crack. Other reasons might not be so obvious but much more common.
This is the most obvious reason for cracked windows. In the midst of a storm, debris from nearby trees might hit the window, causing it to crack. There may even be hail or sleet storms in which the storm itself could cause the window to crack. Sometimes it’s unavoidable, but you can help decrease the chances of storm damage by trimming nearby trees. Keeping your exterior screens on your windows is a good way to protect them from hail, tree branches, and debris.
Not every window cracks because of storm damage. Sometimes stress cracks can appear. With warmer temperatures, the window will try to expand, and this can sometimes cause cracks. It’s especially susceptible to stress cracks if part of the window is cooler than the rest and thus resists expanding. This is why stress cracks are most common in windows that are partially covered in shade. These cracks can be difficult to prevent, but window panes with greater thermal resistance, like high quality vinyl windows with features like double or triple pane insulated glass, argon or krypton gas, and low E coatings, can help.
It’s important to keep in mind that stress cracks don’t just occur in summer. In winter, when the temperatures drop drastically, stress cracks can still appear because of the higher interior temperature and much colder exterior temperature.
Pressure cracks are similar to stress cracks in that they seem to appear out of nowhere. They can be created by drastic weather changes, but they can also form when windows are installed incorrectly. In Northern climates, building products like windows and doors need to be allowed enough space in their openings for expansion and contraction due to the extreme temperature changes. If a window replacement contractor doesn’t leave enough space around the window to allow for proper expansion and contraction, windows can become extremely tight in the opening, putting a lot of pressure on the glass when they expand. Pressure cracks typically run all the way across the glass and when you see them, there’s typically no chance of repairing the window. In most cases, it will need to be replaced.
There’s no way to fully prevent cracked windows, but the higher the durability of the window, the less chance of cracking. At Zen Windows, our replacement windows are all immensely durable, crack resistant, and made to withstand the climate in Des Moines. In the off chance that they do crack or break, the glass is replaced by our glass breakage warranty at no cost to the homeowner. Want more information? Contact us today for a free estimate.