Let's face it, sometimes windows are a pane in the glass. But a foggy or hazy double-pane window doesn't necessarily need replacing. Buying a new double-pane window can be costly, typically more than $100. And while opinions vary regarding what to do when a window has a compromised seal, there's enough consensus to at least consider resealing.
Bill and Kevin Burnett, syndicated columnists who cover home repairs, say go for it. They concede that they're tempted to recommend buying new windows because repairs can fail rather quickly and new windows are more of a sure thing, even though they are more expensive. But aside from risking breaking some glass and putting fingerprint smudges on the inside part of either pane -- which you couldn't clean after resealing -- repair is a viable option.
Author Henri de Marne says there's only one solution for a double-pane window with a worsening haze inside of it -- a new window. He says "there's no way to get rid of the haze and to reseal the dividers between the glass panes." A more open view comes from Norman Becker, a former columnist for "Popular Mechanics," whose opinion falls somewhere between the Burnetts' and de Marne's. He says that resealing is possible, but not a do-it-yourself job.
Step by Step
If you do follow the Burnetts' advice, follow these basic steps: 1) remove the window from the wall; 2) puncture the the butyl rubber seal with a utility knife, then saw through the rubber using a hacksaw blade to separate one of the glass panes from the spacer; 3) scrape the surface of the spacer and remove any bits of gunk from the removed pane; 4) wipe away and vacuum debris; 5) clean the inside of the panes with a 1 cup isopropyl alcohol, 1 cup water and 1 tablespoon white vinegar mixture; 6) dry panes and spacer with a hairdryer; 7) run a bead of silicone along spacer; 8) reapply removed pane by pressing pane down onto silicone; 9) apply silicone to the outside of the pane where it meets the spacer; 10) cover window with towel and let cure for 24 hours.
If you prefer to go the replacement route, contact the window manufacturer to find out whether your windows are warrantied. Many window manufacturers have five- to 10-year warranties. The installation may even be free within the first five years of purchase. If you're not sure who manufactured your window, look at the spacer for an identifying mark and a manufacturing date. If there's information there but you don't know what to make of it, take the info to a local glass company for help.