Aluminum Window Wood Damage
What we're looking at here is a home that was built in 1959, with
aluminum windows. The windows were removed and replaced with vinyl windows
in 2008. That's almost 50 years of wear and tear and realistically, no
matter how bad it looks, the framing isn't in that bad of shape. Even though
the windows weren't easy to open or close, they could've lasted for many
years to come, if the homeowner didn't have the money to replace them.
These are things you need to consider when buying a home with windows that are difficult to open and close. Remember they can always be replaced in the future, as long as you can tolerate them until you have the money to replace them.
I would also like to point out one more thing and this could be extremely important, windows that are difficult to open can create difficulties for anyone trapped in a room, during a fire. Most windows on single-story or two-story homes can be used as emergency fire escapes and if you're going to create a list of home repairs, I would put windows that are difficult to open and can be used as fire escapes at the top of your list.
I think one of the biggest disappointments to anyone employed as an emergency rescue professional would be losing someone trapped in a room, because they couldn't open a window or had sense enough to break it, an escape.
Where Does the Water Actually Come from That Damages the Wood Framing?
It can come from moisture on the interior of the windows and moisture on
the exterior of the windows. Moisture is usually created when either the
interior or exterior of the home is a little more humid or if the outside or
inside is hot and the other side is cold.
I was in a house one time in Napa California and it was probably about 30° outside and on the inside the temperature had to be at least 90° and the water was rolling off the windows. The only problem was, all of the moisture that was rolling off of the windows was on the inside of the house and rolling onto the drywalled window sill.
I was only visiting, but when I looked at the interior window sill, it was soaking wet and lightly covered in mold. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out, if the drywall is wet and there's a steady supply of moisture, like the moisture rolling down the window that it won't be long before the framing gets wet and remains wet, eventually either rotting the wood or attracting termites.
The black arrow in the picture above is pointing to wood framing termite
This is something that would be difficult to see, especially after the interior of the home had been painted. Paint can cover up lots of damage and don't forget this as a prospective home buyer. You're not going to find every problem, but you can use some of the information in this website to look for red flags.
Most aluminum windows leak and if you're in an area where moisture is a problem, you can make an assumption that there is a possibility and I stress the word "possibility" that the wood framing could be damaged. Obviously, I would never suggest that every home with aluminum windows is going to suffer, but it is something to think about and consider.
I think the best way I would approach something like this would be to look at the age of the home and how well it's been maintained. Remember, these pictures are from a home that's almost 50 years old.
With that said, you could assume that a 25-year-old home, could have half the damage and 100-year-old home could have twice the damage, but we would only be making an assumption and this is what you need to take into serious consideration.
What Causes Most of The Wood Framing Damage, From Aluminum Windows?
I've found that most of the damage is caused from the mitered joints,
where the sides of the window frame meet or are connected together. Some
newer window manufacturers use sealants at the corners to reduce or
eliminate moisture seeping through these cracks, but the problems caused by
older windows, without any sealant look similar to the pictures on this
Water leaking onto the sides and bottom of the window track can easily penetrate the window frame corners, without the homeowner's knowledge, allowing the wood framing to get wet and eventually start to rot or attract termites.
Is There a Solution to This Problem?
You could try and seal the corners with some type of caulking or sealants of the window frames and if you see moisture on the windows, wipe it off.