Do an annual home check, including windows and doors

Your home — like your body and your car — needs regular checkups to keep it running smoothly. An annual walk-around is a great idea to check for any potential maintenance issues.

Include in your inspection all of the major systems that protect your home: roof, gutters, exterior finish, windows, doors, foundation and steps, plus the interior systems like heating, cooling, chimney and electrical. Look for obvious signs of deterioration, damage or potential problems. Check for conditions that may allow moisture to enter your home — from plants and sprinkler systems too close to the house to low-lying areas that direct water toward the home. Likewise, watch for any deteriorating wood, cracks, damaged caulk, old weather-stripping, and other potential sources of leaks.

A quick walk-around can tell you what needs to be repaired and maintained. Some quick-and-easy home maintenance will help protect your investment for years.

When checking your windows and doors, here are some items to include:

  • Inspect the interior and exterior finishes around windows and doors. Is the paint or stain in good condition? Signs of flaking and peeling may mean that it’s time to refinish the unit.
  • Look closely at all exterior surfaces for cracking, deteriorated wood and other damage that might be caused by condensation or other water penetration. Are any interior surfaces such as walls, floors or ceilings discolored or showing the effects of moisture?
  • If you spot a problem, try to find its source. For example, discolored wood around a window might actually be caused by moisture entering the house some distance away. With a roof leak, for example, it is not uncommon for water to run down the inside of the wall and show up at the window. Contact an expert to obtain help if needed.
  • Check window sills and tracks for dirt and other debris such as sand, leaves, insects and pine needles. Open the windows and clean out the area with a soft brush. Do the same for sliding patio doors. Debris can hamper the air-tight effectiveness and overall performance of doors and windows.
  • Feel for uneven sliding and sticking when you open and close a window. Try using a non-oily lubricant on the opposing finishes. Paraffin wax works well and does not attract as much dust and grime.
  • Look at the weather stripping around all doors and windows. Re-attach any loose portions and replace portions that are ripped or torn.
  • Operate the locking mechanisms and make adjustments if they feel loose or don’t work smoothly. Locks not only help keep out potential intruders, but they hold doors and windows tightly to lock out rain, wind, snow, and insects.
  • Inspect any weep holes and breather holes if your windows have them. Weep holes allow excess moisture to escape and breather holes allow air exchange within certain components. Clear blocked holes with a wire, toothpick or similar device.
  • Check all exterior sealants and caulking on and around all windows and doors. Pay particular attention to areas susceptible to punishment from rain, water and extreme sunlight. Remove damaged material and reapply sealant.
  • In coastal locations, rinse all exterior metal components and cladding to minimize the corrosive effects of salt spray and fog damage. This should be done at least quarterly.
  • Look for signs of air leakage around the window. Improperly installed windows or doors which permit air leakage not only decrease energy efficiency, but can allow unwanted moisture into the wall cavity.

These steps cover the more common maintenance issues with windows and doors. If you have concerns, or want a more thorough review, contact an expert.

Homes can be a great treasure — both emotionally and financially. And like our bodies and our cars, our homes deserve a regular check-up. The annual walk-around home check is a great opportunity to get things in shape.