Window Maintenance


Why do windows fall?   

According to the findings from the previous incidents of falling window, one of the major reasons is the failure of rivets/screws of the hinge due to corrosion or the wear and tear over time. Besides lack of proper maintenance and improper use of aluminium windows are also the contributing factors for windows falling.


Who is responsible for maintaining windows?

It is the owners and occupants' responsibility to check and maintain their windows regularly to ensure the windows are safe. The owners and occupants may be held liable for personal injuries or property losses resulting from falling windows.


What is the legal implication if my window falls down?

It is a criminal offence under the Summary Offences Ordinance Section 4B if any person drops or allows the windows to fall from any building to cause danger or injury of any person in or near a public place. Upon conviction, the person may be liable to a fine of $10,000 and imprisonment for 6 months.

If the falling window causes injuries or loss of life, the family of the victim may also claim compensation against the owner of the flat involved through civil proceedings.


If I am the occupant, what should I do?

Irrespective of whether you are the building owner or the occupant, you are required to properly use and maintain the aluminium windows because you may be subject to criminal offence if you drop the window or allow the window to fall from your premises. You should also inform the owners to carry out inspection or checking.


There have been incidents of loose window components falling onto the street. What should I do? 

Windows do need regular cleansing and maintenance as they are constantly exposed to the weather and subject to wear and tear. Openable windows should be securely stayed especially under high wind condition. Care should be taken not to apply excessive forces when operating or cleansing openable windows for fear of dislodging any window sash or glass pane. A qualified person / appropriate registered contractors should be employed to arrange the carrying out of inspection and repair works including the replacement of window frames and sashes. 


How can we prevent windows from falling?

Just like other building components, windows are subject to wear and tear. In this connection, building owners and occupants must check their windows regularly and repair them if required, to ensure that their windows are always safe and secure.


Can I hang flower pots or clothes in the window frame/window hinges?

No. Improper use such as hanging clothes or flower pots will overload the window and cause failure of the window components.


How to maintain windows?

Owners/occupants should carry out regular inspection and maintenance of windows. They should clear dust, dirt or debris on the bar hinges and tracks, lubricate the hinges regularly, use fresh water to clean the windows and keep the track, the bottom of the frame and the upper part of the sash dry. They should also pay attention to any loosening or sign of corrosion at all the rivets and screws of the hinge.


What are the common warning signs for the fall of aluminium windows?

These signs include :

  • Difficult to open or close the windows;

  • The windows could not be closed tightly;

  • There is observable distortion to the window hinge or frame;

  • Greyish white powder appearing at the hinges, rusty hinges, tracks, screws and/or rivets, indicating corrosion of the aluminium;

  • Loosen or missing screws/rivets;

  • Water leakage between window frame and sash. 

Building owners and occupants should appoint a qualified person / appropriate registered contractors immediately to arrange inspection and repair when the signs of trouble are found.


What should I do if my windows could not be properly closed?

It is an indication that your windows may have the following problems: accumulation of debris or dirt at the hinge track; distortion of the window frame; defective window lock or loosening of the gasket, etc. You are advised to employ a qualified person / appropriate registered contractors to arrange inspection and repair of your windows immediately.


What are the common defects found in the regular maintenance of windows?  

Any broken or cracked glass panes should be replaced at once with the same type and thickness of glass. Locking devices of window sashes should be replaced if they cannot function properly. Otherwise, damage may result in typhoon. 

Bar hinges in an aluminium window system is one of the most common sources of problem that leads to dislodgement of sashes. They should be regularly checked for any loose fixings, deformation, cleared of dust, dirt and debris and lightly lubricated to avoid undesired friction causing undue load on the fixing. Should any of the aluminium glazing beads for securing the glass panes be found missing, replacement must be done at once to avoid falling of glass panes. In the process of replacing fixing components such as screws and rivets, measures against bi-metallic action leading to corrosion must be taken to avoid direct contact between two different materials. A common example of bi-metallic action is between aluminium and stainless steel. If stainless steel screws or rivets are used, apply bituminous paint or sealant to the holes of the hinges and window frames prior to the installation of stainless steel screws or rivets to help avoid corrosion due to bi-metallic action. After installation, apply the paint or sealant to the heads of the screws or rivets to further improve resistance to corrosion. 

Steel window frames are subject to rusting and should be regularly re-painted with primers and re-finished. Putty for holding glass panes should be maintained. Hinges should be regularly lubricated and replaced if necessary to avoid dislodgment of sashes.

It is important that a qualified person / appropriate registered contractors should be appointed for the work whenever repair or replacement of defective windows or window components is required.


What is the life span of an aluminium window? 

Aluminium windows do not have a specific life span. However, owners are urged to pay special attention to the conditions of the individual parts of the window (e.g. hinges, screws and rivets etc) and arrange for replacement if needed. Through proper use, regular inspection and timely maintenance, the safety of aluminium windows can be assured.


How often should I employ a qualified person / appropriate registered contractors to check the windows?

A qualified person / appropriate registered contractors should be employed to arrange the carrying out of inspection of aluminium windows at least once a year. In fact, the owners can carry out simple checks themselves on their aluminium windows regularly, to see whether the windows are too loose or too tight, whether water leakage occurs while they are shut and whether the windows can be completely locked. If any sign of problems is found, the owner should employ a qualified person / appropriate registered contractors to arrange inspection and repair of the windows immediately.


Who should I employ to carry out the inspection/repair works?

Lists of qualified persons / appropriate registered contractors who are interested in providing services for carrying out inspection, maintenance and repair of aluminium windows has been uploaded in BD's website for reference. In addition, the Hong Kong Housing Society (HKHS) offers free technical assistance on building repairs for owners of residential buildings. Property owners may contact HKHS if in need.


What will happen if the owners fail to repair the defective windows?

Under section 26 of the Buildings Ordinance, the Buildings Department may issue an Order to require the owner to carry out necessary repair for the defective windows. In case of emergency, the Buildings Department may carry out the emergency works to remove the danger and recover the cost from the relevant owner under Buildings Ordinance Section 26(4).


Is it very expensive to employ the qualified person / appropriate registered contractors to check the safety of windows?

It depends on the scope of works. Usually, a bargain price may be obtained if joint actions on inspection and repair amongst co-owners are being arranged.


Will the Government provide financial assistance to owners who have financial difficulties to pay for the inspection or maintenance of windows?

The Government provides support for timely inspection and maintenance of aluminum windows and would offer assistance to the owners if required. If owners have financial difficulties to employ a qualified person / appropriate registered contractors to arrange the carrying out of inspection and repair of their windows, the Building Safety Loan Scheme of the Buildings Department will provide loans to the owners in need.


Where can I obtain further information about timely maintenance of windows?

In June 2002, The Buildings Department published the "Building Maintenance Guidebook", which provides guidance on the installation as well as repair and maintenance of aluminum windows. Apart from disseminating the above Guidebook to Owners' Corporations, the Buildings Department has also uploaded the book onto the BD website for reference of the public. 

In addition, "A Guide to Window Safety" has been uploaded onto the BD website to provide more guidelines on the maintenance, repair and installation of aluminium windows.


Is there any statutory requirement for the owners to carry out the compulsory inspection to aluminium windows?

The recent spate of window falling incidents highlights the potential threat to public safety arising from improper use of windows and owner's failure to regularly inspect and maintain them. Generally, windows require more frequent inspection than other building components and most of the windows are located in individual premises, and carrying out inspection and maintenance of windows will necessitate entry into private property. In this connection, the Government intends to have a separate scheme from the proposed mandatory building inspection to address the issue for ensuring the safety of windows. We have incorporated in the mandatory building inspection consultation paper options of mandatory measures for enhancing window safety for further consultation with the community.


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