Repairing Window Screens
Window screens are one of those “much-taken-for-granted” elements of the home. They have little impact on a home’s appearance, they don’t have mechanical parts that require an occasional tune-up, and they are almost never of concern during the winter. They are all but forgotten.
The only time screens gain attention is when they are damaged, permitting unwanted pests to enter the house. There’s more to window screens than meets the eye. Screens allow us to enjoy a gentle breeze on a cool Spring afternoon. They act as a filter of sorts for Mother Nature’s air conditioner. Fresh air can rid a home of unpleasant odors and can even improve the quality of the air we breathe in our homes and consequently be beneficial to our health and well being.
Newer, more energy-efficient homes don’t allow for the passive exchange of air, as do older homes. Thick insulation, caulking at windows and doors and gaskets at lights and plugs are a few of the improvements that make today’s homes more energy efficient. Unfortunately, this condition creates stale air within the home.
In addition, some of the components used in the fabrication of construction materials emit gases that cause health problems that can range from a minor case of the sniffles to a full-blown allergic reaction. Think screens aren’t important, think again.
Keeping screens clean has many advantages. First, you’ll be able to see out of your windows a whole lot easier. And grit and grime can hasten deterioration, thereby diminishing the life of a window screen. Dirty screens also prevent sunshine from making its way into your home. Moreover, a gust of wind can blow dust on a screen right into your home aggravating allergies and housekeeping chores.
One of the best means of cleaning window screens is to lay them flat on a smooth, cloth-covered surface, such as an old sheet on a picnic table. Scrub them gently with a soft nylon brush, rinse with a hose, and shake off excess water.
While well-maintained screens can make your home secure from flies, mosquitoes and other unidentified flying objects, don’t expect much more in the way of security. A screen is by no means intended to prevent prowlers or strangers from entering your home. Even the best screen is no substitute for a locked window.
Re-screening torn or damaged window screens is a project that most do-it-yourselfers can tackle with ease. All that is generally required is new screen material (metal or vinyl), spline, a spline roller and a utility knife. Unless the frames are bent or damaged they can be reused. Simply remove the existing screen material and spline, replace with new material, roll the spline into the groove at the perimeter of the frame and trim the excess screen material. It’s just that easy.
Sometimes, a screen that is in otherwise excellent condition may develop a small hole or tear which doesn’t warrant full replacement. A small repair will work best until such time as you see fit to replace the screen.
There are several good methods that can be used to repair window screens depending upon the screen material used – metal or vinyl. For instance, when the Missus finishes painting her nails, have her apply a small amount of clear nail polish to a small hole or tear in a vinyl or fiberglass screen. The polish will act as an adhesive sealing the damaged area.
If nail polish isn’t handy, all you’ll need is silicone adhesive, tin snips and a small amount of aluminum or fiberglass screen material.
Small tears in metal or fiberglass screens can be mended with a dab of clear silicone adhesive. If necessary, dab it on in successive layers until the tear is completely filled.
You can “darn” small holes in metal screening. Simply unravel a strand or two from a piece of scrap screening ad sew the hole shut, weaving the strands into the sound fabric with a needle.
Large holes in metal screen material are repaired with a bit more effort. Start by neatly trimming the damaged area to a ravel-free square or rectangle using tin snips. Next, cut a small piece of patch screen material that measures about two inches larger (in both directions) than the damaged area.
Unravel a couple of strands of material around the entire perimeter of the patch material. Bend each side of the patch over at a 90-degree angle. Place the patch over the damaged area and carefully thread the bent wires through the sound fabric. Then bend the wires over to hold the patch in place.
This technique is even easier for fiberglass screening. Simply cut a patch of similar material with scissors and affix it to the good material using transparent silicone glue.
A stitch in time saves, well you know, your screen. Beat the bugs and hefty repair bills by mending them yourself. Once your screens look like an old pair of jeans or a grandma’s quilt gone bad, you’ll know its time to re-screen.
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