Warning Signs that Stained Glass Repairs are Needed
Here are tips on how to maintain your stained glass windows and art glass and telltale signals that repairs are needed.
We work on and maintain art glass and stained glass at the Biltmore Estate. The purpose, of course, is to assure that these 19th century windows don't fall apart or sustain damage. Any part of a building or house will eventually start to show wear and damage, because of age, weathering, insects or use, so it must be maintained periodically to assure long life.
What to Look for in Stained Glass Windows
Here are telltale signs we look for in a window that tells that it needs repair. In windows, look for:
1. Breaks or cracks in the glass.
2. Glazing that is loose or falling out of the lead came.
Windows expand and contract due to extreme hot or cold. This movement will eventually cause the glazing to become loose and start falling out. The glazing is what makes your stained glass air and water tight. Without the glazing, your art glass could allow cold air and rain in from the outside. These weather elements can damage your stained glass.
The hardest to detect are hair line cracks in the came just outside of the solder joint. Lead came is 100% lead but solder is 60% lead and 40% tin. Therefore the solder joint is stronger than the lead came.
Stained Glass Doors
In stained glass doors, we look at various elements.
Art glass in doors needs the extra stiffening of a brace bar. Without a brace bar, doors constantly opened and closed can start to develop a wobble back and forth in the glass.
This wobble will eventually cause the hair line cracks in the came and will only get worse with time. Brace bars are on virtually every church window in the world and every professional studio worth its salt will offer the extra strength of a brace bar. These brace bars can add 30 to 50 more years of longevity.
The industry rule of thumb is add a brace bar every 4 square feet. The windows in the Biltmore House are 115 years old and have always had brace bars.
Wood Sashes Can Shrink
Wood doors and wood sashes over time can shrink and when they do they can cause the art glass to lose its one dimensional plane and start bulging out or curving. Eventually this process will cause breaks in the glass. When this happens the glass needs to be taken out and restored, cutting it down to fit the new shrunken size, as has been the case with several windows at the Biltmore House.
Art glass in doors needs to be treated with care and respect. Because you have invested in an expensive and beautiful entryway for your home, encourage children to use another door or entry into the house. Running constantly in and out of the front door, slamming it closed every time they enter or leave, can stress the door.
How you can maintain your art glass
1. Simply clean with Windex or other glass cleaner. You can purchase a dowel stick (usually 36" long) from any builder supply house or hardware store. Cut them to 10-12" and sharpen both ends in a pencil sharpener. With your dowel stick and paper towel in hand you can easily clean the glass right up to the lead came.
2. Never, ever clean the art glass in your door with a high pressure washer unless you want me to come and repair it.
Art glass in your home, building, institution or church should be considered a treasure. Caring for them judiciously and periodically will ensure that your building maintains a high value for yourself and your descendants.
Please feel free to copy this article and use it as a guide to maintain your windows or doors. If you believe your window or door may need a repair, contact us at Foothills Art Glass at Greer Station. Our advice and estimates are free.
Does your window need repair? We are here to help. Contact us today.