With worship services canceled in the US and across the world in an effort to halt the spread of the Coronavirus, many might be taking this as an opportunity to perform a deep church spring cleaning throughout their church buildings and sanctuary spaces. When taking stock of your building’s condition, don’t forget about your stained glass windows! Now is the perfect time to perform a do-it-yourself survey of your window collection.

DIY Window Inspection and Church Spring Cleaning

Performing a do-it-yourself survey yearly will help you keep an eye on the condition of your windows. Documenting your findings is also important as it can be very helpful with insurance claims or reproduction in case of loss. We’ve outlined the basic process below. 

Before you begin, first gather the following items: a 25’ tape measure, paper and pencil, digital camera, and note cards. Starting with the first window, number the window on a piece of paper, giving a brief description and measurement of the window, rounding off to the nearest half-foot.

Carefully measure your windows during the do-it-yourself inspection.

Inspection

Carefully make the following observations:

Interior Observations

  • How many pieces of broken out glass are there?
  • Do you see any bowed, sagging or bulged areas?
  • Do you see any light leaks and if so, how many?
  • Do you see any evidence of water leakage?
  • Are there any loose or missing brace bars?

Exterior Observations

  • Is the window covered?
  • Is the frame wood, steel, aluminum or stone?
  • Is the protective covering vented?
  • Is the window in need of painting?
  • Do you see any rotten wood? Is the protective covering clear?
  • Is the protective covering broken?
  • Is there any evidence of the protective covering leaking?

Bulges

During your inspection take special care to check for bulging – and along with it – cracked and broken glass. Bulging is an unfortunate issue that many stained glass windows suffer due to stress – both environmental (heat, pollutants, moisture) and structural (gravity, age, poor design). Because lead is a very soft material it naturally stretches under stress. With enough stress, the windows will bulge, sag, or bend with such severity that the glass actually breaks. 

To check for such an issue, stand under your stained glass as close as possible and look up, closely checking for any sections that seem to bow in or out. If you do, you can call us for a complimentary inspection so that we can determine just how dangerous the situation might be.

An example of a severe bulge in a stained glass window.

Cleaning

Years of exposure to dust and smoke residue from burning candles and incense can leave a dulling film over your historic stained glass. Unlike windows in your home, it is not recommended to take a “do it yourself” approach when cleaning your windows. Using the wrong technique or cleaning material can cause permanent harm to the window surface, damaging these works of art.

If you notice during your inspection that your windows seem dull and lack the luster they once had we highly recommend contacting us for a complimentary inspection! When we all make it through this, and we will,  and everything settles down you will have the information necessary to protect or repair your stained glass windows for years to come!