Windows are more than a cosmetic or beautifying feature designed to filter natural light into your home. They're also an essential element of the building's ventilation and climate control, but their frequent use renders them prone to damage and in need of regular assessment. Given how often they're opened, shut, slammed, smudged and equipped with new screens or panes, it makes sense that windows are among the most sneakily important focuses of a thorough home inspection.

Window damage is not a matter that can simply be overlooked, as it can be indicative of larger structural issues and make other parts of the home more vulnerable. Most prospective homebuyers have a working understanding of the fact that inspection services are crucial to the process, but many may not understand what that assessment entails. Specifically, what exactly are home inspectors looking at when they examine windows? The damage, after all, is not always plainly visible.

Functionality and mechanisms

First and most generally, assessments focus on the window sash, making sure it slides when a window is opened or closed shut. The inspector is also looking for things like damaged cords, springs or locks, any of which threaten the window's basic functions. These are usually rather simple fixes, but ensuring that each window in a home closes fully and with ease is a problem no one thinks about it until the inconvenience is staring them in the face.

Potential pitfalls

Window preparedness is a core element of any inspector's assessment, and they're looking for things such as whether a pane may be susceptible to cracks or glazing. There are all types of windows, including skylights and awnings and sliding windows, each of which must be evaluated differently based on the different sort of elements they're exposed to. They want to ensure that sealant is in solid condition and there are no signs of cracking, but they're also gauging the level of condensation that forms in between panes. This provides a barometer for how dramatically temperatures differ from inside to outside, which is, after all, a major indicator of a window's effectiveness.

An inspector will also check the durability of any storm windows, making sure they're installed properly and that they can withstand the elements. Threats vary from region to region, sometimes even within local markets depending on elevation and exposures, so understanding which ones are posed to your new home will help inform your understanding of the inspection process.