Bow windows are a type of bay window that combines four or more individual windows at 30 to 45 degree angles to form an outward looking arch. Often the individual windows are casement windows - windows that open on hinges. Bow window maintenance is basically the same as that required for other types of bay windows. But there are a few specifics that apply especially to them, so let's take a look at what these are:
One of the most obvious areas of bow window maintenance that needs to be taken care of is cleaning. Each of the windows in the entire bow window array needs to be cleaned separately. These windows often do not have muntins (dividers), so cleaning is fairly easy. They can be cleaned in large swipes with window cleaner and a rag or squeegee. It's a good idea to buff the windows clean with a dry rag, especially around the edges, even after they have been squeegeed - there are often drops or streaks of window cleaner at edges or in other spots that the squeegee misses.
Remember to clean both the inside and outside of the individual windows in a bow window. That holds true for any window. But the whole point of a bow window is to let in a lot of light, so you'll want to make sure that the window sections are thoroughly clean on both sides. Most likely you will have to get outside with a ladder to clean the outsides of the panes. Even if they are casement windows that swing open, you'll have a tough time reaching around to the front side to clean them from indoors. The alternative is to take them off their hinges and clean them all at once, but this may be as much or more work than getting up on a ladder.
The hinges on the casement windows, if that is what the individual windows are, should be periodically lubricated with household oil or penetrating oil like WD 40. This helps guard against rust and squeaking. During the spring, summer, and fall you'll really be able to appreciate the ability to swing the windows open easily and quietly to let fresh air into the room.
Another bow window maintenance item you'll want to see to is making sure the frame of the bow window is not suffering any kind of distortion, bowing, or cracking under its own weight or other structural problems. This simply means that you should periodically inspect the window for any signs of frame wear. This might be cracks in the glass, a lopsided look, or cracks in the wall around the window. These can indicate that the window is tilting or pulling away from the house framing or sheathing. Depending on how bad this is, you may want to take off the drywall and make sure the window's attachment to the house is still strong and well aligned.
Many bow windows do not have muntins or grilles, but if they do these need to be checked for structural integrity. All bow windows however, have frames. If the edges of muntins or just the window where it meets a simple frame are showing signs of rotting or crumbling, this may not necessarily be the wood or metal. It might be the window glaze - a putty that is put around the edges of windows which, along with window points, holds the glass in. This glaze deteriorates over time and falls out in pieces. This can even result in panes of glass falling out. It also results in poor insulation value since the glass is not longer sealed to the frame. In modern bow windows this is not as much of a problem, but in old windows it should be checked periodically. In general, check window frames to make sure they are not experiencing deterioration of one sort or another.
Regular bow window maintenance of the types mentioned here will keep these stylish and classic windows in good, safe, and aesthetically pleasing condition.