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How Does Extreme Cold Affect Windows?

It’s that time of year again! Frost is starting to gather in the morning, the forecast changes daily on whether or not it will snow, and people have started putting on “All I Want For Christmas Is You” on repeat. It seems everyone is getting ready for the winter season.

With all the incoming cold temperatures , you may also find yourself wondering how these low temps will affect your home – and more specifically, your windows. Can windows crack at such low temperatures? What other damage can cold weather cause? And is there anything you can do to prevent it?

ian-keefe-449093-unsplashCold Weather Can Crack Windows

The bad news is that even the best built windows can be affected by extreme weather. The good news is that cracks most often happen with poorly constructed or poorly installed windows, so as long as you hired a reputable company to install a quality product, you’ll be able to minimize your risk.

The most common reason windows will crack in cold weather is due to thermal expansion. Usually the edge of the glass on your window is covered by part of the frame that overlaps it to hold the glass in place. This slight overlap will protect the edge of the glass from changes in temperature due to sunlight, or strong wind.

When the temperature of the glass outside the frame is drastically different from the area of the glass protected by the frame, the glass that’s exposed will expand and contract at a different rate than the area that’s protected. This is called thermal cracking, and a quick google search will show you how common this is across Canada.

Thermal cracking is usually identified by a crack that begins at the edge, and sometimes head towards the middle of the window without cracking all the way across. Although, it usually isn’t long before the crack stretches the whole way.

Extreme Weather and Poor Installation

Another way cold weather can crack a window, is with poor installation. As temperature changes, components of your home will shrink and expand as they heat or cool. If your window isn’t installed properly, this can lead to cracking because the window can’t expand enough, or that the parts around the window are expanding beyond the window’s tolerances.

A poor installation can mean that a window will crack, even if the window is a quality product rated to withstand the extreme temperatures it faces. Buying a great product alone isn’t enough, you need to ensure you have the right people are installing the product so it doesn’t face undue stress.

Quality Windows Will Help

Beyond a proper installation, you can reduce your chances of having your window crack in cold weather by purchasing a quality product. The thickness of the glass is one area that will make a difference. Thin glass is more prone to cracking due to thermal expansion, while thicker glass is more easily able to withstand this pressure.

A lot of it will come down to the type of glass, the thickness, and how the window was constructed. If you buy the right window that’s recommended for your region, you can minimize the chances your window will crack during extreme conditions.

If you’re curious about what type of windows you need for your area, swing by our showroom and speak to the experts on staff to find out what’s right for you.