When should I replace windows in my house?

Your home. Your abode, your palace, your haven. Likely the biggest investment you will ever make. And as with any investment, you want to keep it in top shape, not just for function but for esthetics as well.

If you are pondering whether or not to replace windows in your home, cottage or vacation property, it can be as big an undertaking as you decide. There are factors that can help you with this decision, and criteria in making the right choices.

Deciding whether or not to replace any windows begins with assessing the current windows you have. In some case, windows can be repaired or reused in other places. Knowing which replacement projects will get you the most value in terms of costs and deficiency, is critical.

Efficiency – A window that allows in a draft is not doing its job. Measuring the amount of draft isn’t even necessary. If you can feel it, it is there. Or, bring a candle nearby to see if there is evidence of air movement. When there is, the window likely needs replacing. A little weather stripping might be a short term fix, but your heating bill can reflect and measure either a poorly running furnace, poor window efficiency, or both. Windows working with efficiency will also create some adequate barrier to outside noise.

Understanding what allows drafts to penetrate may help in deciding whether to replace the window. Wood windows can become warped. This is due to moisture in the wood and can even make the window seem tight, or difficult to open and close. When the window frame expands, the gap it creates allows for a draft. Weather stripping or sealants can be a short-term fix, but it too can contract and expand which means the problem will likely return.

Hot or cool spots near the inside of the window can be detected on the glass itself which is another indicator your windows are not working to the best ability.

Function – If you are experiencing any difficulty opening, closing or securing a window, then it is not doing its job and should be replaced. This is almost a given with older windows and particularly true of single and double hung styles. They have issues with balance, which is the mechanism that keeps the window open when it is intended to be open. If the balance mechanism sticks, slides or fails in any way, it is not only a potential hazard, but leads to slammed windows, or windows remaining open longer than intended.

In the case of metal or wood framed windows, similar operating feature can occur. Paint can rot, metal can chip and rust. This too can lead to poor function. Exposure to UV rays and extreme temperature may cause exterior frames to contract and expand. Using a flat head screwdriver to gently apply pressure to the window casing will help determine its strength; a crumbling soft frame is on its way to further deterioration. If exterior paint on your homes is chipping and peeling, it is a strong indicator your windows are suffering too.

Moldings and Casements – Windows, like anything, will not last forever. The older the home, the older the windows. Today, the quality of energy efficient windows has greatly improved. The materials and engineering used to properly fit a window into its space will likely last far longer than the original window, if it is dated.

If there is evidence of condensation or fog between the panes of your window glass, it too is an indicator of poor function. This likely means the seal is failing and moisture is creeping in. The glass is not creating the barrier to cold air it should. If a film is evident, it is caused by calcium deposited on the glass, another sure sign the insulated glass is not working effectively.

Appeal – New windows are a big feature in the resale value of a home. There is an abundance of designs and features to choose from. Potential buyers would not want to learn that a new home purchase is both losing heat, which makes for a costly energy bill, but also needs new windows. This will ultimately make them sense that more cost will be involved in buying the home.
Replacing poor quality windows can be more economical in the long run, because the savings they will eventually pay for themselves in the savings to heating, cooling, and sometimes lighting, costs.

Best bets for window replacements – The home energy industry recommends choosing windows with at least two panes of glass. Today, most quality windows have Energy Star ratings to help you with your decision. Modern windows have also been developed and designed with more sound protection. Guidelines to meet efficiency are quite accessible to consumers with the goal that high-performance windows are the optimum replacement option.