When is it time to replace my windows is a question you may have? Brand new windows can lower your energy bills, make your home more comfortable, and boost your home’s appearance. But you may wonder whether a simple repair can suffice—or if you should bite the bullet and opt for all new windows.
Here’s how to know if it’s time to replace your windows rather than repair them.
When To Replace Your Windows
You may need new windows in your home if you’re experiencing one or more of these common issues:
The Room Feels Drafty
If air is leaking in through your windows, you’ll feel cool drafts and may even hear the wind whistling through them. If you’ve caulked your window and done weatherstripping but are still experiencing draftiness, it might be time for a total window replacement.
The Glass Is Foggy
When you have double- or triple-paned windows, condensation can get trapped between the panes. If your windows seem cloudy or foggy, it could mean there’s a leak, which requires a window replacement, although you may be able to fix the seal on the window instead of replacing the entire unit—especially if your window frame is still in good shape.
Your Energy Bills Are High
If your old windows aren’t energy-efficient, they leak hot and cold air to the outside, causing your heating and cooling systems to work harder to keep your home comfortable. Skyrocketing utility bills are a sign that you may need to replace your windows.
Your Windows Don’t Open or Close Properly
If your windows get stuck or don’t close all the way, it could be due to a shifting foundation, window frame deterioration, or a painted-shut window. You’ll likely need to replace your windows and frames for full function.
Your Window Frames Are Soft
If you have wood windows, moisture can cause the outside framing to rot. If your exterior framing feels soft to the touch, you’ll want to replace your windows and frames soon.
Water Is Seeping In
If you notice water coming in through your windows, it’s a likely sign that you should get new windows. Water damage can be expensive and dangerous to the rest of your home.
Humidity is synonymous with “Living in the South”. Due to the climate of the city that we live in, wood frames can easily rot. Rotting frames allows water and air to both leak and escape from your house. If it is a small patch of rotting wood, repairing would be the best option. However, if the entire windowsill is rotting, complete replacement is the only way to go. Whatever the situation is, at Window and Door Specialties, we have you covered.
Seals Are Broken
If you happen to notice a large amount of condensation and fog or in between the double or triple panes there are streaks, then most likely there is a seal that is broken and needs to be replaced. There are de-fogging solutions and valves you can use. Please be aware that these are not as effective as simply replacing it. You can also put in a new sash, which is a less expensive than replacing the entire window.
Difficult to Clean
If there’s one chore that is unpleasant to take care of, it’s cleaning old windows. From the inside it’s no problem, but getting to the outside of the windows, especially those on the second or third level of your home, is especially challenging. However, new windows are designed to be easy to clean, with hinges that allow the windows to tip inward for access to both sides.
Besides heat and cold, old windows can let in too much unfiltered sunlight. While a lot of natural light in a home is a positive feature, the UV rays from the sun can cause fading of fabric and furniture. New windows filter out UV light while still allowing plenty of natural sunshine through to brighten up your home.
Safety and Security
New windows can be made with tempered glass that will not shatter on impact. This helps to protect you and your family from injury if a window is accidentally broken. Another option in new windows is laminated glass that holds the pieces of glass together even when it is shattered, which prevents entry by intruders. Thicker glass is also available in newer windows that can help to increase your home’s security.
Outside Noise Is A Little Too Clear
Not only do newer insulated windows block outdoor air, they also reduce outside noise. You’ll experience reduced road noise as well as less noise from the neighbors living around you. If you live in a busy area, new windows can make your home feel more peaceful.
Poor Curb Appeal or Outdated Style
Windows are the eyes of a home and go a long way in selling the property down the road. From outdated grille patterns to out-of-style colors, a window that misses the mark when it comes to aesthetics is a common instance in which homeowners decide to upgrade. Think about whether your windows are making your house look more beautiful or distracting from the vision you have for your space. Windows are a powerful way to establish a design vision throughout a home. They add a consistent stylistic element from room to room, portraying any style from traditional and timeless to modern and trendy. Whether you’re restoring a home to its historic design or updating to a modern style that fits your taste, windows go a long way in achieving your renovation vision while also adding value to your home.
When To Repair Your Windows Instead
There are a few occasions when repairing your old windows might be enough. Here are reasons to repair your windows instead of replacing them:
If your window has a broken pane of glass, you can simply hire a window pro to repair it. This process is also known as window reglazing, and helps you avoid a full window replacement.
When just one component of a window isn’t functioning, a repair is often possible. If your window needs a new locking mechanism or exterior drip cap, for instance, a repair may be all you need.
Many historic districts have specific guidelines about a house’s exterior, including windows. Sometimes it’s more cost-effective to make your old windows more energy efficient rather than replace them. Plus, many antique windows in an old house are made of durable old-growth wood, so they can stand up to decades of use.
Benefits of Window Replacements
Replacing your old windows with updated energy-efficient windows can offer your home a host of advantages:
Lower energy bills and reduced carbon footprint (25% to 30% of heating and cooling energy use is attributed to heat loss and gain through windows)
Better insulation and more comfortable indoor temperatures
Easier to open and close
Better view of the outdoors
Increases your home’s value
Contact the Window & Door Specialties near you to inspect your home and see if it’s time to replace your windows.
Best Time to Replace Home Windows
There are several reasons to replace windows when it’s warm. First, you won’t be letting in chilly drafts that will force you to pump up your heat—and therefore your heating bill! This is especially true if you’re replacing multiple windows.
Second, caulk adheres better in the warmer weather than it does in the freezing cold. Ideally, latex caulk should only be applied when temperatures range between 40 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. If you use silicone, you may be able to apply it in colder weather, but you’ll need to warm the caulk before applying so that it will flow smoothly and evenly.
Finally, there’s what’s contractors call the “movement of the substrate.” Some materials—particularly vinyl and aluminum—expand in warm weather and contract in the cold. If you or your contractor caulk your windows when the weather is too cold, the caulk could crack and split when the materials eventually contract as a result of temperature drop.
Likewise, caulk won’t cure properly in very hot weather—temperatures above 80 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit—so don’t plan your replacement for the dog days of summer, either.
Replacing Windows in the Fall or Winter
Of course, there are times when you can’t get around a cold-weather installation. If your window is broken or cracked, you can’t exactly wait around until spring to put in a new one. If that’s the case in your home, all is not lost. You just need to take a few precautions to make sure that the window is replaced safely.
Have your contractor come on a sunny, warm day if possible. Schedule the job for mid-morning—this will give the materials a chance to warm up and expand. Be wary about a rainy forecast—some sealants need up to 24 hours to set before they can be exposed to water. If it has recently rained, ask your contractor to allow the exterior surfaces to dry before beginning the project.
Make sure your contractor applies silicone-based caulk around the window instead of latex or acrylic. Not only will it more readily adhere to the window in colder temperatures, it’s also better at waterproofing and weatherization—which will make your heating and cooling work more efficiently and save you money on your energy bills, too.
For exceptionally high performance, ask your contractor to use sealant that has high joint movement capability. This is usually expressed as a measurement on the bottle—a caulk with plus or minus 25 percent movement will perform better when installed in cold weather than one with plus or minus 12 percent.
If you have to do your replacement in the dead of winter, have the contractor work on one window at a time to keep your home from becoming an icebox. If you’re installing a larger window or the types of windows that have multiple panels of glass—such as a new Bay Window—ask the contractor to cover the width of the opening with floor-to-ceiling plastic, so you can help root out drafts while the installation is in progress. And close off interior doors that lead to the room—that way, you can limit the effects to just one part of your home and keep the rest of your home nice and warm.
Window Replacement During Summer & Winter
Although it’s advisable to install windows when the temperatures are most amenable, there are some advantages to an off-season installation.
It may be easier to schedule a contractor, since window installers are much less likely to be booked up in the summer and winter.
If cost is a concern, some professionals believe that windows are at their cheapest during August. It makes sense, too. Families are too busy with vacations and back-to-school plans to schedule renovations around this time. Meanwhile, you’ll be all ready when the temperature drops and more energy-efficient windows become more of a concern. So it’s not all bad news if you must replace in inclement weather.
Preparing for Window Installation
No matter what time of year you schedule your home windows replacement, the project will come off a lot better if you prepare for the job before your contractor arrives. Here’s a handy checklist that will make installation run as smoothly as possible:
Cut back any tree branches or shrubs that may create obstacles for your installer, particularly in the spring and summer when foliage is full and more likely to get in the way.
Clean the area surrounding the window, since dust and pollen on uncleaned surfaces can mix with caulk and cause problems in spring and summer.
Purchase several drop cloths and floor-to-ceiling plastic sheeting to protect your home from dust, paint, and debris—and to keep heating and cooling from escaping while the contractors work.
Remove windows, curtains, blinds, and any other window treatments to avoid damage.
Clear furniture away from the windows—but avoid creating an obstruction between the window and the front door. Your installer should be able to enter and exit your home without having to navigate an obstacle course.
If you have a security system with window sensors, deactivate it before your contractor begins working.
Keep pets secured in a room away from the work. Installers are hauling heavy materials in and out of your home and may not have time to keep an eye out for Spot.
And if you do have to request an installation in the off-season, it’s never a bad idea to offer your installer a cup of hot coffee or a glass of ice water as they work—after all, they’re the ones who’ll really bear the brunt of the weather.
Types of Replacement Windows
When it comes to window replacement, there are several options. First, you’ll need to decide between new construction windows or replacement Windows.
New construction windows: These windows are installed from the exterior and you may need to remove trim and siding to put them in.
Replacement windows: These windows are installed from the interior and are usually easier and less expensive to install.
Second, you’ll need to choose your material. The material and style you choose depends on your home and what you desire in your new windows. Common new window materials include:
Do I need new windows?
There are many different factors that contribute to the functionality, long-term performance and appearance of a window. The lifespan of a window varies from case to case depending on:
the quality and type of material it is made of
the local climate and weather events
how well the window was installed
how often the window is opened
how often proper maintenance is performed and more
While estimating how long your windows will last is difficult, there are simple signs letting you know it may be time to start shopping for replacement windows: your existing windows are difficult to operate, inefficient, letting in too much noise, outdated or damaged.
When in doubt, it’s always best to get a professional opinion. Pella experts can help you decide if replacement is the best option and assist you in choosing from a large selection of high-quality windows that will last for years to come. New windows can provide many long-lasting benefits including easy ventilation, improved energy efficiency, sound reduction, enhanced curb appeal and safety.