Stained- Glass is renowned not only its beauty but also its durability. Well-made and maintained stained-glass windows can last over a century before they require restoration. To preserve your stained-glass windows it is important to be aware of the early signs of deterioration. Many problems can be easily repaired allowing you to avoid irreversible damage to your stained glass so it can be enjoyed for years to come.
Buckling, Bulging and Bowing
If you notice the glass panel appears to bow or bulge this is an indication that the lead came, which holds the individual pieces of glass together, has begun to fatigue. The lead in a stained-glass window generally has a service life of between 70 – 100 years so if yours is an older installation this may well be an issue you are faced with. This lead framework provides structural integrity for the stained-glass panel so it is important to have this problem assessed, leaving the glass in this state could result in pieces of glass falling out or even the collapse of the entire panel.
Gaps Within the Panel
Daylight leaking through gaps in the stained-glass window indicates that the lead came or wooden frame has distorted over time. This may result in large gaps or just tiny cracks of light around the outer frame. The main issue to consider here is that the glass is no longer held in place securely and could fall from the frame. At this stage it is important to have the panel assessed before any pieces of glass are lost.
Chips and Cracks
Although small chips and cracks caused by accidental damage don’t always pose an imminent threat to your stained-glass window, they undoubtedly affect the panel aesthetically and detract from the beauty of the window. In many cases the damaged piece of glass can be repaired or replaced in situ without removing the rest of the frame. Be aware that cracks can be an indication of more serious issues such as a failing frame or fatiguing lead came applying excess pressure to the glass. If you notice cracks getting longer or more cracks appearing without any obvious reason, then it is time to seek expert advice.