One of the most difficult parts of transitioning from being a renter to being a new homeowner is the realization that you can no longer call the landlord when something breaks. Even worse is discovering that home repair emergencies never really occur at a convenient time. One repair issue that most homeowners will have to face at some point is making an emergency repair to a cracked or broken window to protect their home's interior and prevent air infiltration. If you are a new homeowner, faced with a freshly cracked or broken window, the following information will help you make temporary repairs until a permanent one can be made.
Stabilizing cracked window panes
Minor cracks in a window pane can occur for a number of reasons, including:
- some sort of impact, such as being struck by a rock, bird, ball or tree branch
- severe settlement of the home's foundation
- exposure to intense heat or cold
- vandalism or an attempted burglary
If the damage is limited to cracking and most or all of the damaged glass is still held in place by the window frame, you will need to stabilize the crack to prevent it from becoming worse or causing injury to someone standing nearby, if the cracked glass should fall.
To do this, cut two strips of duct, packing or masking tape to the length of the crack and gently apply one strip to each side, centering the crack as much as possible. Large or crooked cracks may require using several shorter pieces of tape, but remember to always place the tape on both sides of the glass to keep it as stable as possible.
If you plan on having the window replaced or repaired quickly, any type of sturdy tape will work. However, if you will have to wait more than a few days for permanent repairs, you may want to use a high-quality, clear adhesive tape that can withstand weather while minimizing the appearance of the cracked glass.
Patching a Shattered Window Pane
If the window glass has been badly damaged or shattered, causing some or all of it to fall out, you will need to make a patch to seal the window and protect your home's interior from the elements until a window replacement contractor arrives to remove and replace the window. To do this, you will need:
- leather gloves to protect your hands from being cut by the broken glass
- masking or duct tape
- a piece of cardboard, cut to fit the dimensions of the broken window pane
- a piece of plastic sheeting, cut a few inches larger than the dimensions of the broken window pane on all sides (if you do not have any plastic sheeting, you can use plastic film cut from a garbage bag as a substitute)
First, remove the broken glass carefully while wearing the protective leather gloves. If some of the glass seems stuck inside the frame, gently tug back and forth on each piece until they are loosened sufficiently to remove them.
Next, center the piece of cardboard onto the piece of plastic film, taping the excess material down firmly onto the back side of the cardboard. Work slowly, keeping the plastic film taut so that it forms a waterproof barrier on the side of the cardboard that will face the outdoors.
Finally, tape the cardboard securely in place, following the window frame and using care to seal any openings where air infiltration can occur.
These repairs will help you protect the interior of your home from the weather until you can arrange for a window replacement or repair contractor to make a permanent repair during regular business hours. However, if you live in an area where security is an issue or the damage takes place during very cold weather, consider explaining your predicament to your window replacement contractor and ask if they can come as soon as possible.