What is Window Hardware?
The term "hardware" covers everything from the frame to the lock. Most problems that are fixable without hiring someone will occur in the handle, lock or latch type of hardware. If you're looking into a new window installation, remember that improper installation is the leading cause of all window problems in general. Always go with professional window contractors.
What Materials Cause Hardware Problems?
The problems you encounter will depend on what material your hardware is made from.
Warping of Wood Windows
Wood window problems will often consist of warping and/or bowing caused by years of expansion and contraction or moisture exposure. Wood windows that have gone into a warped state are very difficult to restore, and replacement is almost always a viable option. Improperly installed wood windows are fixable, but it's a pro's job.
Problems with Aluminum Windows
Aluminum windows can cause problems almost immediately because of the way they transfer heat and subsequently melt or blow seals. When choosing replacement windows, it's best to stay away from aluminum unless it is the only option.
Vinyl Hardware Problems
Vinyl windows are usually very good windows through the first five to ten years, but after that point, the material begins to deteriorate, particularly on windows with the most exposure to the sun. Any real problem with window hardware concerning the frame should be covered under the manufacturer's warranty.
Hardware Problems by Window Type
In double hung windows, the mechanism that allows the sliding can begin to fail, causing problems opening and shutting the window. In a case like this, it's always best to call a pro. In casement windows, cranks can fail, but this is usually a pretty simple fix with most parts available at any hardware store. All kinds of picture windows could leak, but these are still the best bet in terms of maintenance-free service. Bay windows and specialty windows are the most problematic of all window types. This is due to the nature of the construction and the amount of joints between the panes, which create more points for systems to fail. In bay windows with open-able sections, there are even more potential concerns. Any specialty window design and most open-able windows are best left to qualified professionals.
The best thing to remember when it comes to problems with window hardware is this: if it doesn't look simple, it isn't. And if it does look simple, you had better be sure that it is or else risk having a real problem on your hands. Give CalFinder a call and have the window at least looked at. Then, even if you go it alone, you'll have sound, professional advice to base your work upon.
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