How to fix a broken window pane

Published On: May 03 2012 12:24:18 PM EDT   Updated On: Apr 23 2015 04:57:28 PM EDT

KMS Woodworks, Networx

Windows these days can be pretty high tech, it is not uncommon to see double and even triple paned window filled with Argon and coated with special materials to limit heat gain, or reduce heat losses. The days of a simple sheet of glass set in a wooden frame with glazing points and  putty are rapidly fading into history. If your have a broken pane, the fix can vary from “simple” to, “I’d better call in the pros.”


A few months ago I got to repair a broken pane in a client’s window. This window was an old architectural gem that was being used as an interior window to let light into the guestroom from the main living room area. It was easily 50 years old and was of the traditional single pane, points and putty configuration. Repairing a window like this is pretty straight forward and involves these basic steps:


Double Pane “Modern” Windows


The above steps work great for the older single pane style windows. But these are becoming pretty rare in homes. Chances are your windows are more modern, energy efficient and a bit harder to repair. I have repaired some windows that were set in wood or metal frames that allowed disassembly and re-assembly. Here a pane is often set with a gasket in lieu of the older putty. Screws or moldings allow the pane to be removed and re-installed. If your window falls into this category, its still a viable DIY project. Depending on the how the sash or panel in configured this can sometime be a bit easier than the old putty installs.


Sash Replacements


Many windows today are built from “welded” vinyl and therefore are beyond the reach of most DIY homeowners’ skill sets. In these cases it is normally required to replace the entire sash or in extreme cases the whole window. These windows are often on the lower price scale, and easy replacement is one of the sacrifices made for this cost advantage. 


Some window replacements do not involve broken panes, but merely bad or broken seals. In the near 20 years I have been in my home, I have replaced a few of the large panels in my sliding doors. In these cases, I removed the slider or fixed panel from the door and took it to my local glass company. They quickly (one-day turn around) replaced the pane and I re-installed the panel or slider. This “partial” DIY repair saved me the cost of travel and field costs…which in many jobs can be 50% or more of the cost. Parts and labor for one of my sliders was less than $150, and obviously transporting a 30” x 80” window is not available to many homeowners, so in those cases its best to call in the pros to complete the whole job.