Important Tips for Maintenance of Leadlight Windows

Posted on: 9 June 2016

Leadlight windows add art and creativity to any space, being so intricately fashioned. For this beauty to be preserved, however, these windows must be carefully cleaned and maintained to avoid causing damage and subsequent costly repairs. Note these maintenance tips, as well as danger signs to look out for and when to get repair services.

Cleaning leadlights

Leadlight windows are more complicated than glass windows because of the leadlight zinc or lead beading as well as the timber sashes and mirrored gold pieces which require special attention. The following are the most important points to remember when cleaning:

  • Every glass piece should be separately cleaned. Spray a little window cleaning fluid onto a piece of soft, fluff-less cloth and use it to gently wipe each section at a time. Avoid corrosive cleaning solutions such as vinegar or ammonia-based cleaners – the extreme pH can react with and damage the metallic beading. Also avoid using excessive moisture, as it can lift the coating off mirrored pieces and cause timber sashes to rot.
  • Use another soft, dry rag to buff the surface once it dries, because window cleaning solutions may leave unsightly streaks
  • Use cotton swabs to clean very tiny glass pieces or get to hard-to-reach corners.
  • For textured leadlight windows, soft old toothbrushes can be used with cleaner to remove tough stains before wiping down with a rag.
  • Extra-fine steel wool can be used to remove stains from the metallic beading – do not do it too hard, as the beading is naturally black or dull-grey in colour. Do not expect a shine.
  • Use denatured acetone or alcohol to remove stains from paints and varnishes. These should be used sparingly, since they can corrode the metal beading.
  • Do not expose the timber sashes to large amounts of moisture – this escalates the process of warping.

Danger signs for repair

Like other parts of the house, leadlights are subject to damage and wear from insects, aging or weathering among others. The following are obvious signs that repair services are needed on your leadlights:

  • Breakage or cracked glass
  • Loose glazing or glazing that is falling out – especially when cleaning
  • If you hear rattling with wind, or you find a substance resembling powdered sugar on your ledge – this could be the glazing breaking apart.
  • Watch out for hairline cracking in the lead came – you can carefully assess when cleaning

Extreme temperatures in your windows can cause them to expand and contract. This in turn causes the glazing – the substance use to make the glass air- and water-tight – to loosen and start falling out. Without glazing, your windows will allow water and air into your house, and the moisture could damage other parts of the window.

Finally, ensure that any wooden parts around the window are made from properly-cured wood. Even so, the wood can start to curve out/bulge, putting undue pressure on the glass and causing the latter to crack/break. In such cases, the glass will need to be removed and cut down to the new size.