It’s important to have a window protection plan as winter closes in. While a heater certainly helps, long, cold weeks can do damage on your window sill, siding and the glass itself. To avoid costly window repair, you should understand the ins and outs of DIY ice removal. Whether you’re dealing with compacted snow or a totally frozen window, a little attention to detail never hurts.

 

The Lukewarm Water Method

 

First, try using lukewarm water to melt any frozen surfaces. Your home’s windows are thinner than your car’s windows, so you shouldn’t be too forceful. Catch some shower water in a bucket, and gently pour it over the exterior surface. Once the ice has thawed, gently pat the surface clean. Don’t make the water too hot, however, because rapidly expanding glass can crack. Go slow.

 

The Water and Alcohol Method

 

If lukewarm water isn’t working, or if you’re worried about a thin window expanding under warm water, there’s an alternative water-based solution you can use. Mix one part water with two parts rubbing alcohol. Place the solution into a spray bottle, and spray the frozen window liberally. Wipe away the ice, dry the surface and return as needed.

 

The Water and Vinegar Method

 

If you can’t get your hands on rubbing alcohol, mix one part water with three parts vinegar, instead. Pour the solution into a spray bottle and shake. Spray the window’s surface, and reapply as necessary. Again, dry the surface. You can apply the solution before a big freeze, too, to prevent future ice problems. Use it sparingly, though, as vinegar carries a strong smell.

 

The Hairdryer Method

 

If you have a power outlet near your window, you can use a hairdryer to thaw and remove stuck ice. Again, however, you should keep the temperature as low as possible. Hairdryers are great choices if you’ve run out of makeshift ice-removal ingredients. As long as you’re willing to point the dryer, the ice will melt. Take your time, and don’t be afraid to remove sliding “chunks” of ice.

 

While thin ice won’t damage your windows, prolonged exposure certainly can. It’s important to remove ice as necessary, as snow, sleet, hail and ice buildup can warp—and even crack—a window over time. Talk to your professional provider about wood windows, window replacement and repair, too. In some areas, special window frames deflect ice buildup before it’s too late.