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How to Repair a Broken Glass Window

How to Repair a Broken Glass Window

Updated: 02.12.2024

By Nina Tsoy

Window glass is akin to our eyes; when damaged, it must be taken care of immediately. A broken house window also looks unsightly and can be hazardous. Typically, the best solution is to call an emergency glass repair company, or you can try to fix it yourself.

If you choose the latter, this blog will teach you everything you need to know about how to repair a broken window pane.

Repairing Cracked Windows: What You Need to Know

Broken house window

The sooner you fix a broken window, the better. You can learn how to do it yourself, although if the crack gets too big such as if pressing your palm against it would make it break or bend it’s time to call a professional.

A bad storm, a ball thrown by your neighbor’s child, or a rock from your mower can all cause a window to crack, leaving you with an unexpected home improvement project. The key is acting quickly before the crack or window opening worsens.

How to Temporarily Fix a Broken Windowpane

If, due to different reasons, saving your current window glazing is the priority, then consider taking the following step as a temporary fix for a broken house window:

 #1. Secure the Area

Once you have determined the cause of the broken window, it is essential to secure the shattered glass. Start by cordoning off the affected area. Shut the door or separate the space with a barrier, like a sheet of cardboard or partition.

Put on sturdy shoes to guard against any scattered pieces of glass. Afterward, inform your family of the hazard and caution them to stay away from the room until you have cleared the space.

#2. Clean the Surface Carefully

How to fix a broken window

When cleaning up broken glass:

  • Wear protective clothing such as long pants, closed-toed shoes, and thick gloves;
  • Pick up the larger pieces with a heavily layered paper bag, then place them in a garbage bag before disposing of them in the trash;
  • Sweep the tiny shards into a dustpan and empty them into a paper bag for disposal;
  • Vacuum the area to remove any bits of glass you may have missed;
  • Fill a bucket with warm water, add cleaning soap, and mix until foamy. Using the rag, carefully wash the glazed area from both sides. After that, rinse the area with plenty of clean water.

#3. Dry out the Cracked Spot

Thoroughly dry the cracked area before attempting to repair it to ensure a successful repair and save time. Utilize a hair dryer or any other fan around the house to expedite drying. If any moisture is left in the crack, your repair efforts will be futile.

#4. Degrease the Place 

Degreasing is necessary when repairing a cracked window because it removes any oils and dirt that may have built up on the window’s surface. This helps the repair materials bond better, resulting in a more robust, longer-lasting repair. It also prevents the repair materials from being contaminated and breaking down prematurely.

Acetone or gasoline is your best bet. Ensure that the material you use to apply it leaves no fibers on the working surface. If you are using cotton wool, opt for synthetic instead of natural. An alternative option is a piece of medical bandage.

#5. Use Temporary Window Fixes 

A temporary fix for a broken house window may not be aesthetically appealing, but it can help you avoid further damage.

  • Glass adhesive: Buy either online or in most auto maintenance stores. Make sure to read and follow the instructions that come with it;
  • Nail polish or super glue: Apply the clear nail polish to the crack in several layers, wiping away any extra polish after each layer. Allow each layer to dry before adding the next;
  • Plastic brace: Securely tape a piece of plastic, such as a thick notebook cover, on each side of the crack. It’s best to use a piece of plastic that is larger than the crack, but make sure to cover the most fragile part at least;
  • Strong-hold tape: For deeper cracks, such as those caused by flying objects, using twice the amount of heavy-duty tapes, like masking or packing tape, on both sides can help to hold the crack together.

Replacing a Broken Window Yourself

How to replace a broken window

It’s important to understand how the anatomy of a single window pane works. Bendable metal stays, called glazing points, act as the “nails” that hold the glass to the wood frame and are then covered with a bead of glazing compound that seals and hides the glazing points.

Sometimes, the window may be held in place with a wood or vinyl bead molding secured with small nails. To replace the broken window, remove the glazing and glazing points, followed by the shards of glass.

Then, install the new glass, glazing points, and compound. Finish by prying loose the bead molding and reuse or replace it with new molding. Then apply a bead of caulking to the edges of the window before nailing on the bead. Use a power brad nailer, hammer, and nail set to secure the molding.

Remember, replacing single-pane glass is easier than double-pane and triple-pane windows.

Our company takes care of window replacement in Chicago. Don’t hesitate to call for help if you don’t want to DIY your broken window!

Tools & Materials Needed to Replace a Broken Window

Equipment / Tools

  • Thick Gloves
  • Eye protection
  • Glazing putty knife
  • Wood chisel or razor scraper
  • Paintbrush
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil 
  • Metal straightedge 
  • Glass cutter 
  • Rubber mallet

Materials

  • Sandpaper
  • Linseed oil or clear wood sealer
  • Replacement glass cut to size
  • Glazing points
  • Glazing compound
  • Exterior-grade paint

Leave Your Window Replacement to Apex

Is your window broken and in need of replacement by a professional? Contact us to speak with a member of our team and schedule your window replacement!

Replacing a Shattered Window Glass in a Single Pane Wooden Frame

You must have the correct measurements and window glass for your frame to successfully replace a broken house window. Additionally, ensure you have the necessary safety gear, like eye protection and cut-proof gloves, that properly fit your hands and wrists.

Here’s how to replace a broken window.

Step 1: Remove the Sash

How to fix a broken window pane

To remove the sashes of double-hung windows, tilt the sash inward at a 90-degree angle and lift it away from the frame. If your double-hung window does not have tilt-in sashes, refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for removal. 

To remove horizontal sliding window sashes, open the window and lift the sash. Newer casement windows often have release catches on the hinges, which can be used to remove the sash. For accurate removal instructions, check the manufacturer’s website, as different types of windows have different removal processes.

Step 2: Remove the Broken Glass

Secure your thick cut-proof gloves and safety glasses, then lay the sash flat. Place painter’s tape on the glass in an “X” formation and over any cracks or shattered pieces. Use a flat-head screwdriver to pry off the old glazing.

If it doesn’t come off easily, apply a heat gun or a utility knife. Once the glazing is gone, remove the glass from the frame. You may need to hire a wood repair service if the glass damages the frame.

Step 3: Measure and Buy Your Glass

How to temporarily fix a broken window

Measure the empty window frame’s height, width, and glass thickness. Then, go to a home improvement or hardware store and have the glass cut to size based on your measurements –  make it 1/6th inch shorter on all four sides. Lastly, purchase the glass and glass points, which are metal triangles that keep the glass in place.

Step 4: How to Replace an Insulated Glass Unit (IGU)

Be sure to note the type of glass you are dealing with. For example, do you need double-pane windows or triple-pane shatterproof glass?

If the old glass broke into large, jagged pieces, it is likely the most common type of annealed glass. On the other hand, if the glass is shattered into small, crumbly pieces, it is probably safety glass.

To replace a window with an insulated glass unit (IGU), measure:

  • The height and width of the unit;
  • The thickness of the glass sheet;
  • The thickness of the overall unit.

Then note:

  • The spacer color (white, black, or metal.);
  • The coating of the old glass (usually low-E, but it might also have a tint.);
  • Tape heavily over any broken or cracked areas before beginning the repair.

Step 5: Prep Your Window Frame for New Glass

How to replace a broken window pane

To prep a wood frame window for re-glazing:

  • First, use a wire brush to clean out any dirt and residue from the inside and outside of the frame;
  • Then use a heat gun to soften the old compound before scraping it away with a putty knife; 
  • Next, remove the metal glazing points from the frame, and scrape away any remaining old paint or mixture still in the l-shaped grooves;
  • Sand down the grooves to the bare wood, then coat it with a sealer or apply a few coats of linseed oil with a small brush;
  • Let the oil soak in to ensure the longevity of the glazing.

Step 6: Put the Glass in the Frame

It’s time to put the glass in the frame now that all your prep work is done:

  • Spread out the glazing compound into thin, long strings approximately 1/8 inch in diameter;
  • Place the strands into the L channels of the window frame, where the glass will rest;
  • Use the tip of a putty knife to press down around the glass’s perimeter, slightly pressing the glazing compound and setting the glass in place;
  • Insert two glazing points into the bottom of the frame, pushing them into the wood with the putty knife;
  • Tap the putty knife’s handle with a rubber mallet if additional strength is needed;
  • Place two glazing points per side for eight points per broken pane;
  • Use a putty knife from the back of the window to remove any glazing compound that may have seeped out.

Step 7: Glaze the Window

Fix a broken window

To glaze a window:

  • Roll the glazing compound between your hands to form ropes about 1/2-inch thick;
  • Place the ropes in the L-shaped space where the glass meets the window frame over the glazing points;
  • Press the compound against the glass and wood with your finger;
  • Use a putty knife held at a 45-degree angle to run along the bead of the glazing compound, forming a flat, angled wedge;
  • If there are gaps in the compound, apply more and smooth the joint with another pass of the putty knife;
  • When you are finished, carefully remove any small compound pieces on the glass using the tip of the putty knife;
  • Avoid touching the finished bead of the glazing compound.

Glazing a window may seem challenging, but with enough practice, you can become an expert at it. The aim is to have glass firmly installed with an even layer of glazing compound along all four sides. Keep in mind that the compound will stay soft for some time, so if you don’t do it correctly, simply remove the glazing compound and start again.

DIY Aluminum Window Glass Replacement

When it comes to aluminum window replacement, it is generally simpler to take the window out and lay it on a flat surface.

  • Put on cut-proof gloves and eye protection;
  • Pop out the vinyl strip from the aluminum window frame using a flat-head screwdriver or the edge of a putty knife;
  • Inspect the vinyl strips and replace them if necessary;
  • Cut away old silicone from the exposed glass and remove any broken glass;
  • Measure the frame space to get the correct size for the new window pane;
  • Dry-fit the glass into the frame before sealing it in;
  • Run a line of silicone caulk along the back edge of the aluminum frame, then press the glass in place;
  • Run a line of silicone around the edges of the glass;
  • Fit the vinyl strips back into place, starting with the bottom, then the top, then the left and right strips.

DIY Vinyl Window Glass Replacement

How to repair broken window glass

Vinyl window repair is relatively simple if you follow these steps:

  • Remove the window sash as per the manufacturer’s directions;
  • Remove the vinyl glazing strips from the vinyl frame;
  • Cut away the old foam tape or sealer securing the glass unit;
  • Lift the glass unit out of the vinyl frame;
  • Gently scrape the old mounting tape or sealer away from the inner channels of the sash;
  • Apply new double-sided mounting tape along each edge;
  • Replace the small rubber pieces, called setting blocks, and the bottom corners of the sash;
  • Peel the backing from the tape to expose the adhesive;
  • Carefully set the new IGU into the frame;
  • Replace the vinyl strips around the edges of the sash frame;
  • Replace the window sash and lock it back into place.

When It’s Time to Call Professional Window Repair Services

While it is possible to replace broken window glass, we recommend hiring professionals when the window is damaged beyond basic repairs, such as when the glass is broken, or the frame is warped or cracked.

Moreover, those who attempt to fix window glass likely have little to no knowledge of the window unit’s structure. The most crucial factor to consider when replacing the glass is not the outward appearance but rather the ability to retain insulating and soundproofing properties.

Therefore, it is best to call professionals from Apex Window Werks to quickly and efficiently replace broken glass. Contact us to take care of your glazing needs.

Nina Tsoy

Nina Tsoy

With over 15 years of experience in the window repair, replacement, and manufacturing business, Nina is in charge for strategic solutions and exceptional operational performance at Apex Window Werks. This allows her to offer innovative techniques and solutions to address any window-related problem, all while adhering to industry standards and best practices.

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