Assess Window Damage After a Storm


Broken glass is a sure sign of window damage after a storm, but there are less obvious signs, too. Shattered glass has to be replaced to protect your Madison WI family and property. Whether or not that means replacing the entire window or just a repair is a job for a professional assessment.

Window Damage | Madison WI | Sims Exteriors & Remodeling
You can’t see it but window glass expands and contracts with temperature changes, stressing and weakening seals.

The main threats to windows this time of year are:

  • Hail
  • High winds
  • Water

During the winter you can add ice to that mix.

Detecting Window Damage After A Storm

Some damage like broken or cracked glass is easy spot. Some is not. Here suggestions on what to look for:

  • Damage from hail – often easy to detect when you see or hear the ice pellets hitting your home. When they’re big enough they leave dents in siding, roofing and vehicles. Large hail breaks glass. The common hail damage to windows includes:
    • Cracked or broken glass
    • Broke, dented or torn screens
    • Cracked glazing
    • Dented flashing above or below the window or window frame
  • Wind damage – high-speed winds can shatter unsecured windows and there’s always a threat of flying objects. The common concerns include:
    • Cracks, holes or dents around the glass
    • Broken or loose panes
    • Loosened or dented window frames
    • Chipped or cracked paint
    • Missing caulk or cracked glazing
  • Water damage – broken or cracked glass is a way in for moisture and water damage is the easiest thing to miss. Left untreated, leaks in and around windows lead to mold gaining access to your home. To check for water damage to your windows look for obvious signs of leaks like stains on the interior walls. Be very aware of moisture condensing between glass panes. That fog or dew drop appearance is a sign of serious problems on the horizon.

Recognizing Damage To Window Seals

If your windows look foggy it’s likely the window seals have failed. High winds and pounding rains are behind it. Plus, window seals aren’t designed to last forever. Over time the elements gang up on the windows and the seals cannot hold.

Window Damage | Madison WI | Sims Exteriors & Remodeling
Not as obvious as a broken pain, storm damage that leads to leaks and clouded windows is just as serious.

Multi-pane windows have a gas between the panes of glass. Without moisture the gas won’t conduct heat so it protects your home from winter’s cold and summer’s heat. Changes in outside temperatures cause the gas to expand and contract. You can’t see it but the glass actually changes shape. With older windows this constant changing leads to microscopic fractures and cracks in the seals. As windows age and get pounded by more storms the cracks get bigger. Eventually the seals leak and you get foggy windows.

You might think the worse enemy of your windows is storm damage, right? It’s actually the dramatic changes in temperature our Wisconsin climate creates. Sure, all the outside elements that come in contact with your windows – dirt, debris, hail or a wayward toy – cause damage. And they weaken and sometimes break window seals. But it’s most likely a long-term combination of all the elements that finally finish the job.

How Your Multi-pane Windows Work

To protect your home’s windows you should understand how multi-pane windows are designed. The panes of insulated glass are installed in two or more layers with special gases trapped between them.

Window-makers understand the physics involved and many include a chemical agent – a desiccant – along with the gas to help absorb moisture. It makes sense, but doesn’t last forever, either. Unfortunately, over the lifetime of the window winds and storms will wear down the seals and the fog appears.

If you have new or like-new windows the chances of broken seals are slim. Unless there’s an extremely severe wind even or the window is hit by something. Natural weathering is a slow process but Madison’s weather doesn’t help. High humidity in the summer and the threat of ice in winter increase the chances of moisture penetrating window seals. The least little bit of moisture between the panes causes the fog to begin.

Fog in multi-pane windows begins with a slight condensation and progresses to a mist and water droplets to a thick haze. The haze is from water repeatedly condensing and evaporating on the inside of the glass leaving a mineral stain.

Storm-caused Window Damage – Now What?

Once you’ve determined you have windows damaged be a recent storm there are steps to take to protect yourself and your property, including:

  1. Take notes – document the damage (what’s damaged, where, etc.) including every detail. Add photos of the damage taken both inside and outside (when it’s safe, of course) to share with your insurance agent.
  2. Protect yourself – clean up any broken glass and cover damaged windows to keep the storm damage to a minimum.
  3. Use your insurance – submit a claim to your homeowner’s insurance provider and set up a meeting with your insurance agent as soon as you can. Timing is critical both to protect your property and get action on your claim.
  4. Contact a trusted window contractor – you may be able to determine a window in your house has been damaged, but are you experienced enough to know the full extent of the problem? You will be facing a decision on whether to make repairs or replace a window. You want the benefit of the best, professional advice before making a move, right?

The question of replace or repair is difficult. Beyond that, calling upon a skilled window contractor to make repairs or complete a replacement window installation is vital.

Sims Exteriors & Remodeling has been repairing windows and installing window replacements in the Madison area for decades. No company in the area matches its experience.

We have a wide range of high-quality window options from which to choose. Call 608-825-4500 or email us and we’ll set up an inspection and consultation. Tap our years of experience for the best solution to window damage for Madison WI homes.

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