Have you ever tried to open your window to enjoy a nice summer breeze, but found you couldn’t get it open? While a sticking window may seem like a small issue compared to other home problems, it could be a sign of a more serious foundation issue, especially if your windows stick frequently.
So, how can you tell? We sat down with foundation expert, Gary Seider, to get you the answers.
What are the first signs of sticking windows?
It’s important to remember that in general, windows are installed so that they can to be opened without a lot of effort. You don’t need to be strong – it should be easy for everyone. Designers build and mount windows in a way that makes them easy to open.
Try to open your window by placing one hand at the middle of the sill. If you can’t open it, then something’s not right.
Before considering a foundation problem, what other reasons could cause sticking windows?
There are plenty of reasons why a window sticks. Here are a few we often come across:
- Paint: Windows are supposed to be maintenance free, but if you paint them, they can stick. However, if you didn’t just paint your home or if the home is not very old, then you can likely rule out paint as the catalyst.
- Incorrect installation: Another problem we come across is incorrect installation. This is something you would notice fairly quickly. If the frame is not square, it can distort the window, which would be a noticeable issue that would make your window stick.
- Seasonal sticking: Seasonal changes can impact windows, especially in the winter. When the ground freezes, that water can cause a frost heave. This can push your foundation up, causing your window to open incorrectly. If there is a frozen sidewalk or slab right by the window, this can also cause the foundation to raise, making the window stick. Wait until the ground thaws in the spring to see if your sticking window is just a seasonal issue, but keep in mind that frost heaves can mean your foundation isn’t deep enough. Be on the lookout for other issues, even if those windows stop sticking.
- Material: Sometimes when windows stick, it’s due to the type of material that was used in the window. Wood will gain and lose moisture seasonally. It’s fibrous, so environments with high humidity can make the wood swell, which can cause the window to stick and not open as easily – especially in older homes. Similar to seasonal issues, you’ll want to wait for the humidity to die down to determine if your windows are sticking due to the material or because of larger foundation issues.
How do you know it is a foundation problem?
If your windows stick because of a foundation issue, you have a much larger problem on your hands. To determine if a foundation problem is the cause, check the window from the outside. Examine the frame and where the window and home meet, especially if your home is brick.
Keep an eye out for any gaps on along the sides, top and bottom of the window. If your home is made of brick or stucco, you might see cracks instead of gaps, which indicate settlement. If you find any damage around the window, it’s safe to assume that is why your window won’t open. Since the foundation is changing and cracking, your window is now skewed and cannot open properly.
What are quick fixes for sticking windows?
When dealing with a gap or crack, most people tend to install filler material inside. That’s not a bad solution, especially if you’re trying to prevent air from escaping and trying to keep the warm or cool air inside. But while a filler material will help you keep air in, it won’t fix your foundation problem.
In the end, there is not a lot you can do for a quick fix to adjust a window frame. You could use shim stock to try to push the window back up, but it’s not a long-term solution. Most likely, you’ll need a foundation repair specialist.
Why should a homeowner contact a foundation repair specialist when they see sticking windows?
First, it depends on the degree of severity. If you think your window is sticking because of seasonal or material issues, let some time pass, so you can rule out frozen ground or high humidity. That being said, frost heave could indicate a foundation issue, so you could be calling on an expert regardless.
You can also use crack monitoring equipment to determine if they are shifting over time. This could mean you have a serious foundation issue, and you need to call an expert. If the cracks are seasonal, they’ll go away. If they don’t, it’s time to call an expert to get some foundation help.
If you’re at all unsure about why your window is sticking, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Calling an expert can help you avoid further, more serious foundation damage, so it’s often worthwhile to get a professional opinion.
The foundation repair specialists in the My Foundation Solutions network are CHANCE certified and have years of quality experience in the foundation industry. Click here to contact a specialist near you or fill out the Foundation Repair Analysis form to your right to have My Foundations Solutions connect you with a CHANCE certified specialist in your area.
Meet the My Foundation Solutions Expert – Gary Seider, P.E., M. ASCE
Gary Seider started his career with CHANCE in 1987 where he played an integral role in the design and development of the CHANCE Helical Pier System. Flash-forward to today, and Gary is the Engineering Manager at CHANCE where he supervises engineering applications, staff, services, and heads up the development of new helical technology. With decades of experience in Engineering, Gary has encountered almost every foundation issue out there to become a true foundation expert. He’s developed countless publications on helical systems and even holds four patents covering the apparatus and method application of helical piles and anchors used in foundations around the world. When it comes to your homes foundation, Gary knows the ins and outs of how helical technology plays a vital role in the development of a strong, lasting foundation.