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Windows, doors and skylights enhance your view of the world. They also let in daylight and fresh air, as well as protect you from the elements. Proper care and maintenance will help with optimal performance of these products.

How long will your products last?

How long will a window, door or skylight last?

The lifespan and performance depend upon many factors including but not limited to:

  • Component and manufacturing quality
  • Building design, construction practices and product installation
  • Climate conditions and exposure
  • Proper care and maintenance
  • Replacement of worn parts

Tips on caring for your products

It is important to understand your manufacturer’s warranty and have your windows installed according to the manufacturer’s instructions for best performance.

  • Consult with the manufacturer’s specific instructions, especially before using potentially abrasive or caustic cleaners or solvents.
    • Generally, when cleaning glass, it’s a good idea to use a vinegar-based glass cleaner or mild dish soap and water with a soft, lint-free cloth or paper products. You may carefully use a squeegee to dry.
    • Petroleum-based cleaners or solvents should not be used as they can streak the glass and weaken the seal between the glass and frame.
  • Applied film should only be added with approval from the window, door or skylight manufacturer. The addition of after-market products may void the original manufacturer’s warranty or alter product performance.
  • Carefully clean the frame surfaces as directed by the manufacturer. If you live in an area with saltwater or acid rains, it’s a good idea to rinse the exterior of your windows and doors several times a year with water to help protect them from the harsh elements. Use caution if you are using a hose to rinse the exterior of your windows since high water pressures can lead to water penetrating to the interior of your home. The use of a razor blade, steel wool, putty knife or abrasive pad may damage your window.
  • Clean tracks and weepholes using a dry paint brush or vacuum brush attachment. The use of oil-based lubricants can damage the weephole. Weepholes help channel water out of the window door or skylight, so be sure they are free of debris.
  • Check weatherstripping, hardware and caulking and replace broken, worn or damaged parts. Poor performing components can decrease security or energy efficiency.
  • Reduce the risk of an unsecure environment or loss of energy efficiency by leaving windows, doors and skylights closed and locked when not in use for ventilation.
  • Choose windows, doors and skylights designed and sample tested to meet stringent air, water, structural, forced entry and thermal performance standards. Look for the AAMA Gold Label to verify this testing and certification.

Tips for cleaning glass

Glass care today is more important than ever.

Insulating, low-E or heat reflective glass requires proper maintenance to ensure best performance over the life of the product.

  • Never use a razor blade, putty knife, steel wool, abrasive pad or anything that may scratch the glass surface.
  • Never use a pressure washer or high-pressure sprayer to wash or rinse windows, doors or skylights as this can dislodge seals and gaskets and damage frame components.
  • Clean glass with a vinegar-based cleaner or mixture of a mild soap or detergent and water. Rinse completely with clear water, then wipe dry with a soft cloth or a squeegee to help avoid water spots. Always test cleaners in an inconspicuous area first.
  • Avoid washing glass in direct sunlight to reduce streaking of the glass.
  • Avoid abrasive, petroleum-based or caustic cleaners as they may cause damage to the finish or the glass.
  • When painting, staining or finishing sash or frame components adjacent to glass surfaces the use of masking tape on the glass is recommended to protect it from splatter or overcoat that may require excessive clean-up.
  • Clean screens by gently vacuuming with a brush attachment. Or, remove for cleaning and gently vacuum or wash on a flat, clean surface with mild soap and water and a soft brush. Rinse, wipe or air dry and reinstall.

Frame cleaning tips

Keeping your windows, doors and skylights clean applies to more than just the glass.

Try these helpful cleaning and maintenance tips for your window, door and skylight frames.

  • Vacuum dirt from sill and track areas before washing.
  • Rinse completely with clear water and wipe dry.
  • Avoid abrasive or caustic cleaners or solvents that might cause permanent damage to the frame finish.
  • As with glass, a mild, nonabrasive soap or detergent is usually safest for most dirt and stain removal. Always test cleaners in an inconspicuous area first.
  • Check to ensure that drainage or weepholes are always clear of dirt or obstructions—both inside and outside the window or door in the bottom of the frame. Note: If the window is “stacked,” there may be weepholes between units.

Additional maintenance tips

To help ensure that your windows, doors and skylights smoothly and easily open, close, lock and unlock for years to come, refer to your owner’s manual or manufacturer’s website. In addition, follow these helpful maintenance tips.

  • Moving hardware parts, tracks and rollers should be lubricated periodically in accordance with the manufacturer’s maintenance instructions. In salt air environments this may need to be done more frequently. Consult your manufacturer’s warranty for specific details.
  • Inspect your product regularly according to manufacturer’s recommendation. Repair or replace broken, worn or damaged parts. Poor performing components can decrease security or energy efficiency. Some examples are:
    • Cracks, dents or marred surfaces
    • Moisture or fogging between glass panes
    • Weatherstripping and caulking that is missing, cracked or damaged should be replaced
  • Rolling screen doors may be adjusted to run smoothly. Use a screwdriver—often in all four corners—to make adjustment. You may also adjust the lock strike placement by loosening screw fasteners, moving the strike plate and retightening to check for proper lock operation.

Designed to drain water

Windows, doors and skylights often have a simple drainage system or “weep” system designed into the frame and/or weather seal system to allow for accumulated water to drain to the exterior of the building. These water drainage pathways must be kept clear and clean for the window or door to operate correctly.

  • Some products are designed with sloped sills to allow for water evacuation. It’s normal for water to accumulate in the sill or track area with wind-driven rain. As water builds up or outside wind pressure subsides, the product is designed to allow water to drain to the exterior as long as the weep system is clear.
  • Keep sill or track areas clean of dirt or debris.
  • Make sure that outside and inside weepholes and sill area are kept clear of any dirt, sand, stucco, paint, sealants, roofing cement or any other building materials. Use a small, soft bottlebrush or dry paint brush to clear openings.
  • If the weepholes contain insect screening consult your manufacturer’s cleaning instructions.
  • Baffles on weepholes should move freely, to allow water drainage and help reduce air infiltration.


Understanding moisture

Moisture condensation on interior window, door and skylight surfaces (glass/glazing, frame, etc.) is a natural occurrence if the interior relative humidity is too high, particularly in very cold climates.

  • Condensation on the inside surfaces of a window, door or skylight is the result of interior air with a high moisture content (relative humidity – RH) contacting lower temperature surfaces on the glass or frame. The higher the interior air RH and/or the lower the temperature of the interior surfaces, the greater the potential for condensation to occur.
  • Today’s buildings are built “tighter” to reduce air exchange between the interior and exterior. This can lead to excessive moisture being trapped within the building envelope.
  • Integrated window ventilators and air exchange devices can increase building air changes and help vent excessive humidity. Open windows, doors and skylights whenever practical or possible to allow interior moisture to escape.
  • On rare occasions, a window, door or skylight in a cold climate may have condensation on the exterior of the unit.

This is due to radiant cooling of the exterior lite of glass in very high performing products and is not a cause for concern. In extreme conditions, moisture may freeze to form ice that can limit operability of the unit. In hot, humid climates, exterior condensation may also be prevalent, particularly in the early morning, due to the cooling of the glass from interior air conditioning. If you are experiencing this, replacing the product with a higher performing alternative may lessen or prevent further occurrence.

Understanding color retention

Many factors can affect the color and finish of windows, doors, skylights and hardware. AAMA standards established an industry color variation standard for factory applied paints and coatings on aluminum (excludes anodizing), fiberglass, vinyl, wood and cellulosic composites and other materials. AAMA standards provide a method of measuring your window, door and skylight products’ compliance with color variation requirements.

Color Standards

Some degree of color variation is allowed per AAMA standards. These standards take into account natural aging due to sunlight, weathering and other factors describing the allowable change in color in ways that can be scientifically measured.


  • Chemicals can cause discoloration of materials.
  • In dry climates with high levels of solar energy, a color variation may sometimes occur.
  • A color variation has no effect on strength or structural integrity of the frame material.

Caring for your plastic glazed skylights

Plastic skylight glazing can be made from a number of different materials. Just like the plastic lenses in eyeglasses, plastic skylight glazing requires special care for best performance.

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning.

  • Plastic glazing is susceptible to scratching, abrasion and other damage by certain solvents and cleaning chemicals. Avoid the use of gasoline, acetone, ammonia, carbon tetrachloride or denatured alcohol. Also avoid the use of abrasives, abrasive pads, paper towels or high alkaline cleaners, scrapers, squeegees or razors as they can cause damage.
  • Start the cleaning process by rinsing the plastic glazing with clean, warm water.
  • To remove loose dirt or light soil, use a solution of mild soap and water. Apply with a soft cloth and rinse well with clean lukewarm water. To avoid water spots, blot dry with a chamois cloth.
  • To remove foreign material like protective paper, glazing compound, caulking, roofing tar, grease or fresh oil paint, carefully use cleaners or solvents approved by the skylight manufacturer and apply with a soft cloth to the affected area.
  • Apply cleaners or solvents away from direct sunlight and avoid cleaning at elevated temperatures. Then, immediately clean the skylight with mild soap and water as outlined above. Dispose of cleaning materials safely and properly.

Please note: Skylights are designed to withstand typical environmental conditions. Skylights are not intended to withstand human impact or falling objects. While some skylights are more impact resistant than others, never walk on and always exercise caution when near them. Access should be restricted only to authorized individuals who have been adequately cautioned as to the location of the skylights and informed of the warning above. You may also choose to provide protective guardrails or screens around the skylights.

FGIA – an innovative industry leader

On January 1, 2020, AAMA and IGMA unified into one organization, the Fenestration and Glazing Industry Alliance, or FGIA. Designed to help members excel in a dynamic and fast-moving future, FGIA is focused on building better industry synergies from glass to framing. FGIA is dedicated to improving home and building performance through better glass, window, door and skylight technology and standards. As an inclusive community, FGIA leads the glass and fenestration industry through research, consensus-based standards, product certification, advocacy, and education and professional development.

AAMA Gold Label – a mark of certified quality

AAMA-certified products are tested to perform to the needs and expectations of home and business owners. Look for the AAMA Gold Label as a sign of quality for windows, doors and skylights and their components. Those items earning the AAMA Gold Label have been certified to meet rigorous performance standards. You can be confident when you choose AAMA certified products and components; a sample of each product design is tested and has proven to meet stringent AAMA standards.

FGIA provides this information as a general guide to caring for your windows, doors and skylights to enable you to receive the most enjoyment and best performance from these products.

Consult and follow your manufacturer’s warranty, owner’s manual or website for details on caring for your specific products and materials.

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