How to Know Whether You Should DIY Broken Window Glass

Here are the pros and cons of replacing a broken or fogged windowpane.

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Masking Tape on Glass Protects Against Cuts

Masking Tape on Glass Protects Against Cuts

Photo by: DK - Do It Yourself Home Improvement ©2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - Do It Yourself Home Improvement, 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Repairing a window used to be simple: break out the old glass, install the new, add glazier points and putty, and you’re good to go.

But with a variety of window frames, like wood, metal and composite, and panes that are single, double, insulated, low-E and more, doing it yourself can not only be difficult, it could void your warranty.

Here’s how to know when to DIY and when to go to a pro.

Single-Pane Windows

Single-pane windows can be single-hung or double-hung (one panel moves or both panels move). But because they are made of only one thickness of glass, they’re simplest to DIY.

If you’re going to replace a broken pane yourself, you’ll need:

·         gloves with a leather palm

·         safety glasses

·         a wire brush

·         glaziers (or push) points

·         window putty

·         a putty knife

·         glass cut to size

If you’re repairing a window in a wooden frame, add linseed oil and a small brush.  

Here’s a tutorial on repairing broken window glass.

Windows are installed with gaskets, caulk or adhesive tape. And installation can vary by frame type. You can get supplies and information on installation from your local hardware store.

Double-Pane Windows

Double-pane windows are more difficult to repair, and require a trip to a window repair shop. Remove the broken or fogged sash and take the whole thing to the specialist. They will measure the window size and thickness, help you determine if the window is still under warranty, and (if necessary) special order a unit.

We recommend buying any repair supplies you need from the specialist. They can tell you whether you’ll need gaskets, adhesive tape or caulk to install the frames, and can also give you step-by-step instructions on installing the window.

If you feel like the job is too big, or you are concerned about voiding the warranty, talk with the repair specialist about the best options, either having one of their techs do the repair or having the company send a tech. Your cost will likely triple, but you’ll have the peace of mind knowing the window was professionally installed, and your warranty is still intact.

Don’t Void the Warranty

Some window companies provide a lifetime warranty, which can be voided if you do your own repairs (or have another company do them). Before starting, contact the window manufacturer. If you don’t know who made the windows, look for a manufacturer’s name or ID on the window frame or etched into the glass.

Once you have the ID, go to the American Architectural Manufacturers Association products directory and plug the ID code into the directory. They will match the code to the manufacturer’s name.

If your windows don’t have a visible name or code, and you’re concerned about the warranty, remove the entire sash and take it to a window repair shop. The experts there can help you track down the warranty information.

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