Window Seal Failure is More Common than You Think

For a window to work properly, it should have a tight seal. The window should easily open and close. When shut, there shouldn’t be air seeping through, but homeowners are often surprised to learn that window seal failure is all too common.

In Wisconsin, getting out the tape and plastic is a needless, but “time-honored tradition.” Many Midwesterners worry that without the extra insulation, cold weather will leak into their homes. The truth is, if you have reliable, working windows, they should be free from leaks—there’s no need to get out the tape and plastic come October.

Another common sign that you’re experiencing window seal failure is to monitor how consistent the temperature stays in your home. Do you need to wear socks? A sweater? If you’re living in a drafty house, there’s no reason to settle. Learn the signs of window seal failure in case it’s time to consider replacement windows for your home.

Window Seals Can Fail at Any Age

We’ve seen window seal failure in homes that are less than ten-years-old! It’s always sad when this happens because homeowners don’t expect it. When they buy a newly built home, they think it will last for years before needing repairs.

Unfortunately, contractors often cut corners and choose cheaper windows when they do a major development. They may even get a special deal on bottom-of-the-line windows. At Weather Tight, we’ve noticed that when one home in the subdivision experiences window seal failure, it seems to start an unfortunate trend.

Of course, window seal failure is a common problem amongst older homes as well. As windows age, the wooden frame can expand and contract. Glass can become loose; water, sun, and temperature changes can damage the seal over time. Eventually, even the sturdiest homes will start to see drafts no matter the type of windows.

But when someone buys an older home, the state of the windows is often a consideration. Homebuyers expect that an older home will need a few updates and renovations. It’s the brand new or recently built homes where window seal failure comes as a shock.

Check out this video below from Tod & Todd that shows seal failure in a 10-year-old home.


Window seal failure is much more common than you would think. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the signs, so you know what to watch for in your windows.

Learn the 5 Signs of Window Seal Failure to Watch For

Wondering if window replacement is in your near future? There are a few signs of window seal failure that you should keep an eye on.

1. Foggy Windows

Foggy windows aren’t to be confused with normal window condensation. Every home has fluctuating humidity. Even newer homes with special HVAC measures in place may still experience regular moisture changes due to the temperature difference between indoors and out. When we shower, workout, or cook in our home, we might see even more window condensation. Pets, plants, and people can also contribute to this normal issue.

Window condensation isn’t a sign of window seal failure, but foggy moisture in-between glass panes, on the other hand, indicates a problem. When seals are working correctly, the inert gas acting as insulation in most modern windows stays inside. The window appears clear. When the seal is broken, moisture gets trapped between the panes. Windows appear foggy, cloudy, or impossible to clean. The answer to foggy window repair is usually replacement.

2. Drafts Around the Windows

Another simple way to see if your window seal has failed is to try the wet hand test around the window. A window with a working seal shouldn’t give off any drafty air. When holding your dampened hand up to the windowpane, you shouldn’t feel cold air drafting in. Even when the weather outside is frightful, your windows should be keeping the indoors warm (and delightful).

You also shouldn’t see ice or frost on the inside of your windows. Hardware may get very cold; often made of metal, it conducts temperature. However, glass windowpanes and the surrounding frames should stay frost-free, and even if they feel cold, they shouldn’t get icy indoors.

Don't let your winter mornings be ruined by cold drafts and window seal failure

3. Irregular Temperatures

Another sign that you should consider window replacement is to consider the ambient temperature of your home. Do you get so cold indoors that you need to put on extra socks, a sweater, or wear a hat? Does your home get so cold that it feels uncomfortable? Is your home energy efficient, or do you feel like you’re heating bills increase each month?

You should always feel just right inside your home—not too cold and not too hot. When you set your thermostat, you should get consistency throughout the building. If your home is adequately ventilated and has good insulation, temperatures shouldn’t fluctuate. If they do, it could be a sign that your windows aren’t doing their job very well. Many homeowners can’t believe the way energy-efficient replacement windows improve their comfort.

4. Damaged Window Frames

Take a look at the frame and caulking around your window. Is it black from mold or mildew? Is the paint bubbled, chipped, or peeling? Do you see signs of weather damage from the sun or rain? Window frames often show their age and are among the first ways to spot damage from window seal failure.

When we assess your windows for replacement, we’ll look at the window frame and the surrounding hardware. Depending on the condition of the area surrounding your window, we may recommend a full-frame replacement versus a pocket replacement. To get the best seal possible, you may also have to replace the frame. When we do a full-frame replacement, we can pinpoint any other issues like pests or water damage.

5. Windows that Are Hard to Open and Close

Finally, properly working windows shouldn’t be challenging to open or close. They should be secure, but when you unlock the window, you should open it with ease. You should never have to dangerously “prop” a window open or jam it closed with a broom handle for security. Windows that are hard to open and close can be a safety hazard for anyone, including children and pets.

Replacement windows from Weather Tight are easy to open and close and lock securely. You can open the window indoors for easy cleaning. When you close the window and easily push the lock closed, your window will be sealed tightly and safely!

Windows keep your home comfortable and beautiful, connecting you to the outside world. Brighten up your home and eliminate drafts with beautiful replacement windows from Weather Tight. No matter your home’s age, if you suspect window seal failure, contact us today for an assessment. Let us show you how affordable and comfortable new windows can be!