Many home owners regularly clean their windows but pay little attention to their window screens.
Screens Are My Business – But I Don’t Like Them
One big reason my wife Cynthia and I got into the window cleaning business is because everyone loves clean windows.
One big reason we almost didn’t get into this business is because of window screens.
Working with residential window screens is a basic, necessary part of our jobs as window cleaners. We work with them every day and have become quite adept at dealing with them. We even smile and maintain a professional demeanor while cleaning and handling them.
But we don’t have to like window screens.
Window screens are often neglected and replaced infrequently and become brittle over time. Once the neglected screen is touched and/or removed to clean the window, many fall apart right in your hands.
And whose hand is touching the screen?
The window cleaner’s.
Welcome to my world.
When Was the Last Time You Noticed Your Screens?
One of my first blog posts was “How Often Should I Clean My Windows? (Dec 2011)” because it is my customers’ most frequently asked question.
I followed it with “How Often Should I Clean My Awnings? (Jan 2012)” because it’s the #2 question I hear most.
The #3 most frequently asked question, and today’s topic, is about one of my least favorite subjects, window screens.
When we clean residential windows we always remove, clean and replace the screens. It’s an important element of professional window cleaning and just part of the package.
It’s easy to notice homeowners that pay attention to their windows and screens because every window works and the screens are all in pretty good shape.
Do we wish all customers were like this? Yes.
Is this what we see in the real world? No.
Quite often, the only time homeowners even notice their screens is when they finally get around to cleaning their windows.
Infrequent window cleaning is one thing, dealing with neglected and corroded screens is rarely done before they break.
Herein lies my issue with screens.
How Often Should I Replace My Window Screens?
As with most things in life… it depends.
There are a number of structural and environmental factors that determine how often you should replace your window screens.
Here are some factors that will affect your screen’s longevity:
- Structure – Is it well-built or kind of flimsy?
- Screen mesh type – Steel, aluminum, fiberglass, other
- Frame type – Steel or aluminum
- Corner type – Plastic or mitered
- Usage – How often is the screen moved or handled?
- Water damage – Sprinklers and/or continually damp area
- Little Ones – Dog and Cats and Children can punish screens
- Environment – Sun Exposure, severe weather, proximity to the ocean
So, no one answer will fit every screen. It depends.
OK, so how long should a screen last?
A normal screen that is primarily in shade, remains relatively dry, gets cleaned semi-regularly and is not subject to lots of handling (except at window cleaning time) should last you 10 to 15 years before it begins to break down and need replacement.
With regular maintenance and care, you can add 5 to 10 additional years to your screen’s life.
Maintain Screens And They Will Last Longer
Here are 8 screen maintenance tips to increase the life of your screens:
Wipe the frames regularly (every 3-6 months) and check for corrosion
- Keep the window track free of water and dirt
- Check plastic corners. If they look faded, the plastic is getting ready to break. Replace.
- Inspect the screen mesh for holes and replace if you find some
- If the screen mesh looks shiny, this means it’s getting old and needs to be re-screened
- Inspect the spline to see if it’s coming out of the frame, use a spline tool to press it back in.
- If the spline continually slips from the frame, it may be dry and needs to be replaced
- Make sure the screen mesh is taut within the frame, re-screen if necessary
In most cases, maintenance costs are less than replacement costs. You can do most of these tasks yourself and save money while keeping your screens in working order.
One note: When we surveyed our customers, we found that cost is not generally the reason for infrequent maintenance. It’s the time and hassle.
If you are not a Do-It-Yourself type of person, your local hardware store can inspect and maintain your screens for you. You just have to bring the screens into their store.
Also, there are also many excellent on-site screen companies that will come to your home and maintain them on the spot. These companies tend to be a little more expensive, but they really reduce the time and hassle factors for you.
Whatever method you choose, regular maintenance increases the life of your screens.
An Ounce Of Prevention = A Pound of Cure
Over the last couple of years, we’ve unfortunately had dozens of situations where a 20+ year old screen falls apart in my cleaner’s hands and the customer, rightly so, asks what we are going to do about it.
Yep. We touched it without noting it first, and we now own it.
And, as a professional service provider, we replace it for the customer free of charge.
Here’s a helpful tip to prevent customer/service provider issues before they happen.
Quick Tip: The next time you have your windows cleaned, talk with your window cleaner before they start, and ask them to inspect the screens and indicate those they recommend maintaining or replacing. You both can then determine how to handle any repairs and/or replacement.
This up-front communication saves a lot of headaches and reduces the possibility of “after-the-fact” situations.
Be safe and have a great weekend!
About the Author
John Gran (@FishSouthBay) is an entrepreneur and former marketing and product development executive who has grown his successful Fish Window Cleaning franchise in the Los Angeles – South Bay area to become a leading professional in window cleaning services for business owners and home owners.
With his popular blog A Clear View Through Clean Windows, John shares his window cleaning expertise by addressing topics and answering questions that customers continually ask him during his day. He also uses window cleaning pictures, inspirations and stories about his business to demonstrate the fundamentals for building a strong, healthy, thriving business.
John lives & works with his wife Cynthia in Redondo Beach, CA (she runs the business too!)
If you have a question or would like window cleaning services click Here or Call 310-973-3474 for a Free, on-site written estimate.