Temporarily fixing a broken window

The approaching spring and summer season is arguably a time when it's more likely that you might have to deal with a broken window. Baseball season will be starting up before you know it, and players near your home might leave you with a cracked or smashed pane. Or a bad summer storm might send a tree branch or other debris into a window.

A broken window leave you with several problems. Smith-Berclair Insurance, a Memphis company, says that not only will your home be more vulnerable to the elements and less energy efficient, the opening might also prove a welcome invitation to burglars.

Odds are you don't have a spare window lying around, and it might be some time before you can replace the glass or get a professional to do the job. But there are a few steps you can take to better secure the window in the interim.

If the damage is particularly bad, you'll want to start by removing any broken glass that remains in the pane. Don't forget to wear work gloves to protect your hands from the sharp edges. Duct tape is a handy way to pick up glass that has fallen on the ground. If the glass fragments are stuck in the sash, apply linseed oil and let it sit for a couple of hours to soften the putty; otherwise, use a chisel to remove the putty.

If the whole window is affected, you can apply a temporary patch. One option is to cut a piece of cardboard to fit the frame and duct tape it into place. Or you can staple a tarp or heavy-duty trash bags onto the frame. Either method will work to provide a barrier to the elements. If only a single pane was broken, this solution will work on the smaller scale as well.

Cracked windows aren't as much of a hazard, but they should still be replaced as soon as possible. According to the home improvement website RedBeacon, etching a small arc around a crack with a glass cutter will prevent it from spreading farther. It's also possible to apply super glue to the crack, once the area has been cleaned carefully with acetone, to keep the glass in place.

Another tried and true method is to use masking tape to secure a cracked window. Tape up both the exterior and interior sides of the crack. This will also prevent rainwater from entering through the window.

Depending on your aesthetic tastes and the amount of damage, you might not even need to replace the entire window. Shellac or clear nail polish can be effective in filling small holes. Once the first layer has dried, add another one and repeat until the layers are level with the rest of the window. It's possible that the hole will be imperceptible enough that you'll be satisfied with this fix.

For more serious window damage, however, don't delay repairs. Most of these solutions are only meant to be temporary while you arrange to have a replacement window put in.


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