Do I Need to Replace My Windows After a Fire?

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Suffering fire damage to your home can be stressful. If you have recently experienced this kind of loss, your windows may not be the first thing on your mind. However severely your home was damaged, if you plan to make repairs and return to the home, there are nonetheless some considerations you will need to keep in mind as you assess whether or not you will need replacement windows.

Types of Major Fire Damage: The Safety of Your Windows

There are several ways that a house fire may damage your windows to varying extents. It’s possible that your windows may just need a good cleaning to clear up the ash and soot; of course, if the heat or firefighters broke your windows, the glass will need replacing. If you had older wooden windows, they may have also suffered structural damage.

If all you need is a cleaning, here’s what you can do:

First, use a hand vacuum or brush attachment to suck out any dry, loose dust and pieces from the window. Then, wipe it down with a clean, plain microfiber cloth. Start by using a mild soap and work your way up through the intensity levels of various cleaning products.

If there is a lot of residue, grease, or soot, you will likely have to continue cleaning, wiping, and scrubbing with new rags until the window is completely clear. For tiny crevices and hard to reach spots, consider using a cotton swab.

Once fully clean, you can assess the damage to the trim and frame and potentially repair it with wood filler and paint. If your window continues to hang onto that campfire smell, you can wipe it down with a deodorizer.

As a final step when you’re completely finished cleaning, you should give the window a final clean, shine, and wipe down.

How to Repair Damaged Windows

What if cleaning isn’t enough? The reality is, if your windows are damaged in any way after a fire, you’ll probably want to replace them. While unfortunate, it’s also very common to need to replace windows after a fire, as firefighters will often use windows as access or entry points and break through them - if not the firefighters, then the pressure that heat causes on glass can cause severe damage to the point of breaking. Even if your windows aren’t visibly broken, that heat from the fire likely stressed the glass, meaning that it could now break much more easily from a tap or a push, which is a big safety and security hazard. The frame could also have damaged seals or weakened integrity, as well.

However, replacing your windows after fire damage doesn’t have to be overwhelming.

When is it Time to Replace Your Windows?

If you have questions about measuring for replacement windows, door window replacement, window replacement cost, or installing fire-rated windows, Canadian Choice Windows & Doors can help. We will take the utmost care to help you assess the damage to your home’s windows after a fire and see whether cleaning, repairing, or replacing entirely your windows entirely is necessary.

Some key signs your windows will need replacing by our professional installers include:

  • The glass is broken
  • The frame is damaged
  • The window no longer opens and closes
  • The window no longer locks
  • The glass breaks with just a knock or a tap

While no homeowner is particularly happy about the expenses of replacing windows after a house fire, it’s likely that homeowner’s insurance can help cover some, or even all, of this cost. Our team can help you work with your insurance provider to figure out what needs to be done, and at what cost.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you have experienced a house fire, it’s likely you have many questions. The following are some of the most commonly asked questions when it comes to windows and fire damage.

  • Can smoke damage windows?
    The main threat to windows in a fire is heat, which weakens the integrity of the glass and causes windows to break more easily. This is not safe for security reasons, and because you or a small child could fall out. The primary result of smoke damage to a window is soot and smell. If these are the only issues with the window, such as in a small house fire contained to one portion of the home, then the window can likely be cleaned without needing any further repair. However, be sure to test the integrity of the glass!
  • What happens to windows when a house is on fire?
    When a house is on fire, the wooden trim around the windows or the frame itself may catch fire if not adequately fire-rated. The pressure of the heat on the glass can cause your windows to explode, making flying glass an additional hazard. Firefighters also often use windows as vents to help control the fire or as access points to enter and exit the home. Overall, windows can bear the brunt of the damage in a house fire, but must also be carefully assessed afterwards.
  • Do windows ever need to be replaced?
    In general, newly manufactured windows tend to come with warranties averaging 25 years. Most professionals consider 20 years to be the lifespan of a quality vinyl window - of course, some older homes have windows that are much older than this! If you live in a home built in the early to mid-1900s, it’s possible your windows could be nearly 100 years old. It’s important to have older windows assessed for safety and security, and whether they should be replaced depends on your needs and your specific situation. After a house fire, your windows will likely need to be replaced, and your insurance should help cover the cost.
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