What Is The Black Grime On My Window Frames And How Do I Get Rid Of It?

What Is The Black Grime On My Window Frames And How Do I Get Rid Of It?

© Washington Post graphics; reader photo

Question. We have black buildup around the windows of our home in Mill Creek, Washington. I used a mild spray window cleaner and a screwdriver to (gently) scrape it off. Is there a better way?

A: A razor and scraper will probably work better than a screwdriver. The black trim that protrudes through the window is double-sided foam tape used to adhere the glass assembly to the vinyl frame. It's there to hold the window in place; It has nothing to do with the seal between the two cups.

You can cut loose material, but don't cut it in half or pinch the material to remove debris, says a spokesperson for Peninsula Glass at Port Hadlock Wash. You can still make slits for foam and windows to escape.

Keith Sitzman, owner of Sun Spaces in Redmond, Washington, suggests eliminating leaks by cutting the frame at a 45 degree angle with a box cutter. This eliminates the risk of cutting the vinyl or damaging the still working foam. Then cut a second one, this time with one end glued to the glass, removing the excess foam. Something like the Stanley Mini Razor Scraper ($2.59 at Ace Hardware) helps keep razors in the cupboard.

Weather-resistant double-glazed window.

He also does moldings for vinyl window frames and wood trim. You can easily remove mildew from vinyl with a dry cloth or sponge, or with water and a little dish soap. Vinyl is not porous, so mold will stick right out of it. If you want to kill the mold, add a little white vinegar or bleach to the water (wear gloves if using beech). But growing or killing spores doesn't add much permanent protection against mold re-emergence, as many viable replacement spores will inevitably become airborne. Mold grows when conditions are right, which can be something as simple as fine wool and dust if there is moisture and a food source.

The picture you posted shows the major stains on the wood trim around the window. After seeing the photo, Sitzman said most people saw it as a hint that the window was leaking. To check if this is so, you can poke the wood with the tip of a screwdriver to see if it is soft and supple, which is a sign of rot. If you do, contact the contractor to assess the situation.

However wood color is more likely to be a cosmetic issue due to buildup in the room. This type of discoloration is especially common on western red cedar decks in the Pacific Northwest, where humidity is relatively high during the winter. Cedar is rich in water-soluble chemicals, some of which help prevent wood rot.

Even if it's cold and cloudy outside, the sun's rays warm the balcony during the day. Warm air holds more moisture. But at night, when it's cool, the moisture is compressed and seeps into the wood causing solvent flow. Wood stains over time. The white dot shows where the liquid is coming from; This is a dark place to hang out. And wood is a long wet place for the growth of blackheads.

Maybe you can't just clean moldy wood. Do you need something more suitable? One solution is hydrogen peroxide. To even out the color of wood, you can try oleic acid, such as Savogran Wood Bleach ($12.99 at Ace for a 12-ounce tub). But once the color comes off, you'll need to work your way around the room to make sure you get the residue off properly.

It will be easier to paint the points of light if you add lots of trim and maybe curtains. You can use a product like Salmon Wood Stain, which comes in several colors ($15.50 for 12 ounces). These stains are water-based and do not require pre-sealing the wood with wood conditioner. Rub it with a sponge and remove the excess. Anything you find on vinyl window frames will fade easily to fade quickly.

To prevent mold from growing back and stains returning, you'll need a way to avoid condensation, such as a fan or dehumidifier that turns on automatically based on temperature or relative humidity. You may have to experiment to find the best setting.

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