6 Steps To Keep Salt Buildup From Destroying Your Windows

September 13, 2013

There’s nothing quite like living on the coast. Near instantaneous access to the water and sweeping views make homes along the coast quite valuable. Homes near the coast in Southeast Texas are often quite valuable — and treasured by their owners.

Of course there are some pitfalls when you live so close to the mighty Gulf of Mexico. Insurance rates are incredibly high, thanks to flooding potential. Hurricanes and tropical storms often threaten to damage coastal homes — and when they do, they leave a larger dent in homeowners’ wallets.

Then, of course, there’s the issue of salt spray on windows. While this isn’t as destructive as the force of a Category 5 storm against your windows, it’s a year-round issue in coastal climates. Here’s a closer look at why this happens, and how to fix it.

salt spray

Over time, salt spray can cause damage to your windows. (Image courtesy: Bettina Neuefeind/flickr)

How Salt Builds Up on Windows

If you live right by the bay or the Gulf, larges waves and sea breezes can send salt water airborne into your windows. The water eventually evaporates, but the salt that’s left behind can build up on your windows, making them look milky. This process is called efflorescence.

And sea spray direct from the Gulf isn’t the only cause of this buildup. Warm Gulf water can rise into the air and become a salty water vapor during the summer months in Southeast Texas. This not only causes those steamy summer days in places like Galveston, but it also saturates the air with both moisture and salt. As this moist, salty air hits your windows, the salt can stick to the windows on all sides of your home. Over time, this can lead to massive buildups of salt.

glass corrosion

Corrosion can damage glass. (Image courtesy: Wikimedia Commons)

What Salt Can Do to Windows

If you think that salt buildup is just an annoyance, think again. While accumulation of salt crystals can make it tough to see out of windows, these crystals can also cause the windows to deteriorate over time.

If left untreated, the crystals from salt can weaken window glass and frame materials. While the glass and frames won’t crumble into dust, they might corrode enough to allow water to leak through the windows. Corroded windows from efflorescence can also lead to higher energy bills, since more energy can passed through the weakened window space. Ultimately, corroded windows must be replaced.

Fortunately, it’s easy to protect your windows from this damage. Regular and effective cleaning of salty windows will prevent corrosion entirely. The key is to remain vigilant.

How to Clean Salt Covered Windows

  1. Mix 4 tablespoons of ammonia, 2 tablespoons of vinegar and a quart of water into a spray bottle (similar to a Windex bottle).
  2. Spray cleaning mixture onto surface of salt covered windows.
  3. Use a squeegee to cover all parts of the window with the cleaning mixture.
  4. Use sponges or Shammies to scrub remaining trouble spots.
  5. Dry windows with paper towels or pieces of newspaper.
  6. Add RainX or similar products to windows to build up resistance to salt spray.

Vinegar is a preferred cleaning agent for salt covered windows. (Image courtesy: Wikimedia Commons)

Why Vinegar?

Salt that’s embedded in sea spray or water vapor will remain attached to windows when the water evaporates. Since salt is comprised of minerals, you’ll need to use more than water alone to clean it off of your windows. Vinegar is a popular for cleaning off windows, since it doesn’t leave a film or streaks on the glass.

Final Thoughts

The key to keeping windows from corroding from continued efflorescence is vigilance. If you live in a coastal area, your windows are bombarded with salt on a constant basis. If you only clean your windows occasionally, corrosion could still occur over time.

Additionally, stainless steel window frames are recommended for homes in coastal areas. Stainless steel is more resistant to decay from salt buildup than other materials are. This material will also keep sliders and locks on your windows from malfunctioning when exposed to salt.

If you’re looking for replacement windows, siding, outdoor living products or stone exteriors, turn to Best Investments Siding and Windows. We’ve remodeled thousands of homes across the Houston area since 1979. Click here or call (281) 852-1866 for a free consultation today!