Home Window Glass Repair

There are times when you need to do a little home window glass repair. Windows sometimes get broken as you are cleaning them, baseballs get thrown through them, dogs sometimes barrel through them. 

Now you are probably going to have to leave the larger windows and the tempered glass in your patio door to a professional but smaller windows can be repaired by the homeowner quite easily.

Single Glazed Windows - Wood Frames

Theres plenty of information on the internet about replacing glass thats held in with putty, so theres not much I can add to that kind of home window glass repair, but most of us live in homes built through the 1950's to 1990's where the glass in most single glazed windows is held in with wood glazing strips, not putty. 

So if you have a broken window, here are some helpful repair steps:

  • Get a drop cloth down on the inside of the house in front of a window to catch any falling glass. 
  • Bring a clean plastic trash can and sit it next to the window. If the window is all ready broken through you can often put on a pair of gloves and just pull out the broken shards carefully and dump them into the trash can. 
  • If the window only has a crack in it, try taking the glazing strips off first, do not break the glass out more unless there is no other option.
  • Eventually you will have to go to the outside of the window and score around the glazing strips on top and bottom with a utility knife. You need to cut through the paint to allow you to lever the glazing strips off.
  • There are special inexpensive tools such as the window zipper that are designed to get under the glazing strips and free them up.
  • Bear in mind that sometimes constructors glue these things on, they may be a real pain and not come off in one piece.
  • Once you have all the glazing strips off, look for any glazing points that may be holding the glass in of the top and the bottom. Pull them all out
  • Pull the glass out the frame and make sure there are no broken shards anywhere in the frame. Look carefully for any protruding nails.
  • Measure the frame horizontally and vertically at 2 or 3 places. Pick the smallest of the dimensions measured and order your new glass 1/4" smaller. 
  • Use new glazing points to clip the glass in place and the silicone caulk all around the glass to seal it in the frame before you install the new glazing strips.

Single Glazed Windows - Aluminum Frames

These are more like the windows you would find in your storm door. Typically these are a lot easier to repair than a wooden window with its glued in glazing strips. The aluminum frames are generally held together by thin long screws. Some awful designs use aluminum clamps and are hard to take apart, usually because they are glued together by thirty years of dirt and grime. 

Here are the steps required to disassemble an aluminum window frame.

  • lay the window frame down flat on a big worktable 
  • Before you take the frame apart, measure from inside metal edge to inside metal edge, vertically and horizontally and then add 3/8" to each dimension. This will be your new glass size.
  • Look carefully at corners of the window frame. Recessed in the aluminum, you will  likely find the heads of tiny screws.
  • You may need to buy a new screwdriver to fit these small screws, often these screws are a very small Robertson square head.
  • There are usually 4 screws to remove, 2 on the top, left and right, 2 on the bottom left and right.
  • Once the screws are out very carefully pull the aluminum frame apart. Try to preserve the fragile glazing vinyl that surrounds the glass.
  • Remove the glazing vinyl from the glass, cleaning out any broken shards carefully.
  • You can reuse the vinyl if its in good shape, but keep the old piece, even if you replacing it, so you get the proper size and length. You can use the old piece as a template for cutting the new.
  • If the broken glass you removed is still intact in the height or width, you can measure the pieces to double check the new glass measurement you made before you took the frame apart. 
  • Order the new glass and start by wrapping the vinyl back around the perimeter. Use masking tape to hold the glazing vinyl in place if necessary.
  • Set the bottom of the glass in the bottom aluminum channel, this is usually the widest piece. Carefully center the glass in the channel. You can use soapy water as a lubricant to help slide the glass and glazing vinyl in the channel if necessary.
  • Install the top channel in the same way.
  • Install the left and right channels and make sure the window is nice and square before attempting to replace all the screws.
  • Install the screws. If the frame is properly assembled, the screws will go in very easily. If theres any resistance, check out the reason, do not try to force the screw. If it breaks you might have to replace the whole window.

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