Windows should be seen—not heard
If you notice your windows rattling when a large truck drives by, during a windstorm, or when you turn up your stereo, it's time to do a little detective work. There are a few quick and budget-friendly solutions to fix rattling windows, but the method depends on the specific problem. Not only is silence golden when it comes to enjoying the view outside your window—secure windows help keep your home at a comfortable temperature all year round. Read on to learn everything you need to know about rattling windows—and what to do about them.
Why Do Windows Rattle?
Typically windows rattle because of loose glass panes that aren’t secure enough in the window frame. It’s also possible that your sash is loose, your mortice plate needs adjusting, or you need to add some weatherstripping. But sometimes, it signifies a greater problem like wood rot. Whatever the reason, if a window rattles, it needs some attention.
How to Stop Windows From Rattling
There are a few ways to keep your windows from making a rattling sound. Here are a few potential fixes.
Caulk Loose Glass
Loose glass panes are usually the culprit for rattling windows. By caulking to secure the glass, you’re also making your window airtight.
Using a putty knife, apply caulk to the edges and corners where the glass meets the window sash. Make sure you fill all cracks.
Dip a rag in vinegar and water, and wipe away excess caulk.
Let the caulk dry for at least eight hours.
Fix a Loose Sash Window
Over time an old sash window may no longer fit in its tracks. This causes rattling in the wind. By applying weatherstripping in the crevice, this will also keep your sash window airtight.
Using soap and water, clean the area where you'll be applying weatherstripping to your sash window, removing dirt and other debris. Wait for the area to dry completely, or else the adhesive stripping won’t stick.
Use the measuring tape to measure each side of the window track, and cut the weather stripping to fit.
Raise the inner window sash and apply two pieces of weather stripping on each side.
Lower the outer sash and apply two pieces of weather stripping on each side.
Close and open the window a few times to make sure the window slides open and shut with ease.
Fix Wood Rot
Rainwater can cause old wood window frames to rot and warp from moisture damage. As a result, the glass may no longer fit properly in the wooden frame. While compromising the airtightness of your window, it also causes rattling.
If more than 10% of the frame has wood rot, you should replace the window rather than repair it. Replacing a rotted frame with wood filler weakens the overall integrity of the window. The more rot that is present, the weaker the window.
Using a chisel, chip away at the rotted wood until you unearth healthy wood. Use a brush or rag to wipe away debris.
Drill holes into the wood, spacing them about an inch apart. This will help the wood filler adhere to the wood. Wipe away the dust.
Fill the holes and apply the previously rotted area with wood hardener. Let it dry, and then apply another coat.
Using a putty knife, apply the wood filler and form it to the shape of the window frame. Let it dry.
When dry, sand the filler with coarse sandpaper and eventually change to a finer grade of sandpaper to smooth out the surface.
Match the color paint of the existing window frame. Line the glass with painter’s tape to protect it while painting. Using a thin paintbrush, paint the window frame and let it dry. Depending on the paint, you may need two coats.
Adjust the Mortise Plates
Mortise plates secure windows when they are closed. When loose or damaged, these don’t properly secure your windows and can cause rattling. You may need to replace the mortise plate or take it off and refit it so that it holds your window shut.
Using a screwdriver, remove the mortise plates.
Refit the hardware to see if that secures the window and stops the rattling. If it doesn’t, head to your hardware store to purchase new hardware ($5 to $15) to secure your window. You may also be in need of new hardware if the mortise plates are no longer operable, rusted shut, or broken.
Inspect your weatherstripping to see if it needs repair. Weatherstripping is a budget-friendly way to stop those windows from rattling, but also to increase your home’s insulation value and decrease your monthly energy bill. Even better? This is a simple process appropriate for amateurs.
There are many types of weatherstripping available. Go for V-channel adhesive-backed weatherstripping along with some foam tape for the ultimate insulation and durability.
Before applying, clean the window, especially the sash, and allow every component to dry.
Measure your window frame, including the sash, and cut the foam tape and V-channel weatherstripping to size. Allow an extra inch on each side for the V-channel weatherstripping.
Peel back the foam tape and carefully press the adhesive side against the bottom of the sash so it forms a nice bond.
Insert your V-channel weatherstripping along the jamb and sash. Peel back the adhesive and press firmly into the jamb. For the sash, open up the window several inches and apply the weatherstripping so it faces up. The goal here is for the weatherstripping to compress when the window is closed.
Drive finishing nails into the jamb.
Repeat with all available windows and, also, consider applying weatherstripping to doors.
Tips for Preventing Rattling Windows
You can prevent rattling windows by practicing regular window maintenance. It’s a good idea to keep your window tracks clean and lubricated; otherwise your frames may get stuck and, eventually, loose. You should also keep an eye out for window damage, and repair it as soon as possible.
DIY vs. Hire a Pro
For handy homeowners, fixing a rattling window is an easy DIY project that shouldn’t take more than an hour or two. But if you’d rather spend that time enjoying some downtime, you can hire a local window repair company to take care of it. Most window pros charge between $30 and $50 an hour for their work.
When is it time to replace my windows?
It could be time to replace your windows if most or many are in poor shape. In that case, new fiberglass windows will increase the energy efficiency of your home and add to its overall visual appeal, inside and out. Replacing your windows also can allow you to find a style that better suits the character of your home.
Constant fixes can be expensive over time, and by replacing your windows, you can be at ease knowing you now have windows that function properly and make your home more energy-efficient.
How much does it cost to repair a window?
It typically costs between $165 and $550 to repair a window, with homeowners paying an average of about $360. The cost of window repair depends on the extent of the damage, as well as where you live. Window repair is more expensive in Michigan ($670), for example, than in Texas ($240).