Your Windows and Your Foundation

These 50 degree nights and 70 degree days are meant for enjoying – not just outside, but also inside your home. 

If you’re like us, you 1) enjoy the fresh air and 2) the naturally available air conditioning (time to give the old HVAC system a rest). Those cool morning breezes feel that much better when you know you’re knocking down that electric bill.  Plus, we’re in Texas, so how many weeks of this type of weather do we get in a year? Maybe four in the spring and four in the fall, depending on your (and your family’s) tolerance of cooler temps?

Of course, to take advantage of all this beautiful weather, you’ll be needing to open your windows.

When you do, think back to the last time you opened them. Are they just as easy as they were last time? Harder? Impossible?

Why is this worth noting?

Well, a sticking window is more often a symptom of a larger issue. One the one hand, especially with older, wood-framed windows, it could be something as simple as expansion due to humidity, and the wooden window frames may stick a bit. However, a window that doesn’t open or close smoothly (or at all) can also be a sign of a foundation issue.

How is my window affected by my foundation?

Think about it. When your windows were installed, they were in all likelihood installed as a single unit, with the window glass already tracked inside the window frame. This unit was pre-built and inspected to be true (90-degree corners, etc…) and able to operate as intended. That pre-fab window assembly was then fit into a frame courtesy of your homebuilder, then surrounded with interior wall material (drywall, insulation, etc…) and external wall material (plywood, moisture/barrier insulation, brick or siding). Post-installation, your builder conducted an inspection to make sure everything was installed correctly and was operating as it should.

So what changed?

Well, everything we just listed – the frame, the external and internal wall materials, all sit on – you guessed it – your foundation.  So what happens when that foundation starts to move? Well initially, maybe nothing. Maybe there’s enough flex/give in your framework to allow some movement, and maybe at first, the shift is incremental. But over time, those forces start to work against your home’s structure, and those subtle changes begin to grow and the next thing you know your window is being forced out-of-square and this manifests itself in windows that stick, that need to be pulled side-to-side as you open or close them, or worse, windows that simply cease to function.

Think of it like when you notice an irregular wear pattern on the tread of your car. You might look at it and say “hmm, something’s wrong with that tire” which is true, but if you do a little research, you’ll learn that – depending on the pattern – you could be looking at larger issues such as misalignment or a possible broken suspension component.  A sticky/inoperable window is much the same thing when it comes to foundations: indicative of a larger issue than merely a window that doesn’t work.

So if you’ve flung open those windows to enjoy this stretch of temperate weather and your windows did exactly what they’re supposed to, congratulations! However, if you’ve noticed that one or more of them are more difficult to operate than before, you might, like that aforementioned tire, take a closer look in hopes of eliminating a foundation issue as a cause of your window problem.

Okay, but how do I do that?

The short answer is: you don’t. Accurate diagnosis of a foundation issue is best left to professionals with professional equipment. And while that might sound expensive, we at Perma-Pier have great news: our evaluations are no charge, 100% free. So why not schedule your no charge evaluation today so you can 1) get your home back in shape and 2) enjoy this beautiful weather while you can!

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