4 Easy Ways to Fix Rattling Home Windows

Marissa Hermanson
Updated July 22, 2021
Boy and dog standing in front of window
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These four easy DIY projects will stop your windows from rattling

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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 inspect your windows. Typically windows rattle because of loose glass panes that aren’t secure enough in the window frame. But sometimes, it signifies a greater problem like wood rot.

There are a few quick and affordable solutions to fix rattling windows. Secure windows help with the safety of your home, as well as its energy efficiency, reducing energy bills, and keeping the temperature indoors comfortable year-round.

Caulking 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.

Project difficulty: 1/5

Materials: silicone-based window caulk, putty knife, vinegar, rag

Time: Around eight hours (including drying time)

How to:

1. Using a putty knife, apply caulk to the edges and corners where the glass meets the window sash. Make sure you fill all cracks. 

2. Dip a rag in vinegar and water, and wipe away excess caulk.

3. Let the caulk dry for at least eight hours.

Man caulking window exterior
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Fixing 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.

Project difficulty: 2/5

Materials: utility knife, measuring tape, rolls of adhesive-backed weatherstripping (Weatherstripping comes in an array of materials, like metal, rubber, plastic, felt, and foam rubber. A professional can help determine which one is best for your sash window.)

Time: An hour or two (including drying time)

How to:

1. 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.

2. Use the measuring tape to measure each side of the window track, and cut the weather stripping to fit.

3. Raise the inner window sash and apply two pieces of weather stripping on each side.

4. Lower the outer sash and apply two pieces of weather stripping on each side.

5. Close and open the window a few times to make sure the window slides open and shut with ease.

Fixing 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.

Project difficulty: 3/5

Materials: chisel, drill with a quarter-inch bit, wood hardener, wood filler, putty knife, sandpaper (both coarse and fine), exterior wood paint, painters tape, thin paintbrush

Time: An afternoon

How to:

1. Using a chisel, chip away at the rotted wood until you unearth healthy wood. Use a brush or rag to wipe away debris.

2. 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.

3. Fill the holes and apply the previously rotted area with wood hardener. Let it dry, and then apply another coat. 

4. Using a putty knife, apply the wood filler and form it to the shape of the window frame. Let it dry.

5. When dry, sand the filler with coarse sandpaper and eventually change to a finer grade of sandpaper to smooth out the surface.

6. 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.

Adjusting 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.

Project difficulty: 1/5

Materials: screwdriver, new mortise plates (if the old mortise plates are no longer operable)

Time: Around 30 minutes

How to:

1. Using a screwdriver, remove the mortise plates. 

2. 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.

When It’s Time to Replace Your 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.

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