The windows of your home, like most other fixtures, need to be replaced from time to time. Sometimes deciding when to replace windows is an obvious choice; other times, not so much.
How long have you had your windows? If you’re not sure of the answer, the chances are that it’s time to get new ones. However, if you look for the right signs, it’s easy to know when to replace your windows.
When to replace your windows
Here are the most common signs any type of window shows to let you know it’s time to replace them.
Your windows are damaged.
Are your windows warped, cracked, or chipped? Are they leaking or letting drafts in? This could be from gradual wear and tear or immediate damage as a result of a storm. Either way, you should fix this immediately.
If your windows are broken, you’re probably already considering their replacements. It is also important to replace windows even if they are ‘only’ cracked or warped. Windows warp due to moisture retained in wood. So, if this is the reason you are replacing them, consider replacing the frames as well.
If you notice that your windows have become drafty, that could indicate several issues. Drafts can occur when the house shifts and the windows no longer properly fit in a frame. It can also happen when frames wear down or deteriorate over time. You may patch up the area with the draft in the short term, but you should have the window replaced as soon as possible.
Window seal failure
Double and triple-pane windows can potentially suffer from window seal failure, compromising their effectiveness and visual appeal.
Check for dirt, fog, haze, or condensation between the panes to determine if a seal has failed. You may also observe a slight distortion of the glass in the center of a pane whose seal has failed when standing outside.
There are signs of condensation inside the window.
There should be no moisture present on the inside of your windows. Condensation is a bit less obvious than having rain gush into your house, but it is just as important to notice. Your windows should provide a tight seal. If that seal is worn or broken, moisture can get inside and give way to condensation or even ice.
Although this problem is more common with single-paned windows, it does occur with double-paned glass too. When double-paned windows show condensation, it is usually because there is a leak. Argon gas is what fills the gap between panes to serve as insulation. When there are leaks and that gas escapes, you will begin to notice moisture gathering on the window glass. To keep damage to a minimum, you should replace your windows as soon as you notice this problem.
If the space between the window frame and the wall is not sealed correctly, water may infiltrate into the wall of the house. This is a serious problem because the water can linger in the wall if the leak isn’t noticed and taken care of.
Over time, the water can rot the wall from the inside out. Not only will the window need to be repaired or replaced, but the home’s wall itself will need to be repaired, and the damage can be extensive. You may also have to deal with mold and mildew.
Water intrusion can be difficult to detect in its earlier stages. Look for staining of the interior wall, especially in the areas by the bottom of the window. Feel for moisture in the same area immediately after a rainstorm.
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Does water leak through your window frames after heavy rainfall?
This is a sign that your windows aren’t closing as tightly as they should be.
First, check the locking mechanism to make sure that it’s working correctly. If it’s not locking as tightly as it should be, it could be leaving a gap for water to get through.
If that’s not the culprit, you’ll probably need to go shopping for new weatherstripping.
Broken or missing hardware
Window hardware can take a beating over time and may eventually break due to operator error or normal wear and tear.
If your windows have hardware like handles and locks, take the time to inspect them and ensure they are working correctly.
Inability to open or difficulty opening
While inspecting your windows’ hardware, it is a perfect time to open and close each window. Note if the window has difficulty opening or closing, as this may be a sign that the hinge or hardware needs maintenance.
If you’ve had your windows for a long time, they might not open and shut as smoothly as they used to. This could be a sign that debris has built up in the track. Clean them with a wet cloth and apply some lubricant.
If this doesn’t help, the problem could be in the mechanism. Check the springs and moving parts to see if they need to be replaced.
If your window has wood frames, your problem is more complex. Jamming or difficulty opening could be a sign of swelling.
When wood is exposed to dampness or humidity, it swells up. When the temperature changes, the wood should return to its standard size. If not, you may need to sand the frames down or even replace them.
Cracked panes of glass
Tree branches, errant birds, and rocks flung from lawnmowers all have the potential to crack window panes. Just like cracks in the windshield of your car, the crack in your window may start small and then expand over time as it is exposed to freezing and thawing.
After thoroughly cleaning both the inside and outside of each window, inspect the windows for any signs of cracking and deal with problems right away.
You have difficulties opening and closing the window.
Your windows should be reasonably easy to open. If they’re not, this is likely due to the tracks on the window not being functional anymore. The tracks may have warped and become misaligned, or they’re clogged with dirt. This means you have to wrestle with your window to get it to work. For a quick fix, rub a bit of dishwashing liquid on them. This will not solve the problem permanently but will allow for it to be opened.
Another common problem associated with the opening and closing of windows appears when they can’t stay open! Not being able to leave their window open is frustrating, and many people tend to wedge it open. However, this isn’t a great idea for safety reasons. If it has come to this, it’s about time you considered having new windows installed.
Rotted exterior wood trim
Exterior wood trim is exposed to the elements and must be scraped, sanded, and re-painted or stained as needed to protect the wood from moisture. If moisture is allowed to seep into the wood, it can cause rotting and structural instability.
Check wood trim for peeling paint/stain and for signs of rot.
You have higher energy bills to pay
Your energy bill is likely to increase when your windows are failing. Windows that are not working correctly will cause you to run your HVAC unit incessantly. This is the biggest reason for your high bills.
New windows can help you save money on energy bills and lower your carbon footprint. They’ll provide outstanding insulation, keeping warm air in during the winter and letting it out during the summer. That way, you don’t have to spend so much on heating and cooling your home.
Noise is getting inside even with the windows closed.
Does the sound of traffic get inside your house, even when your windows are closed?
This means your windows aren’t as efficient as they should be.
High-quality double-paned windows act as soundproofing, so you don’t have to worry about noises from outside disturbing you.
You’re selling or renovating your home.
If you’re renovating your property, it’s a good time to replace your windows. Or it might be time to update the aesthetic of your home. If you still have single-pane windows, it certainly is.
A new set of windows can have a surprising effect on the value of your home. You’ll not only be much more likely to sell your home quickly, but you’ll also be able to increase the asking price. The extra expense is well worth it. It can give you up to 85% return on your investment.
How to choose your replacement windows
Deciding when to replace windows doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be as simple as realizing your home is ready for a makeover. It is one of the fastest ways to renovate your home, and its installation takes only a few days. However, do you know which replacement windows to buy?
Decide if your windows need replacement or repairing.
Before investing in replacement windows, it is recommended to assess your current windows thoroughly and see if you can’t fix the problem. Are your old windows cheap, or were they high-quality? If you find yourself with drafty, rattling windows, you may not need to replace them.
A good carpenter can work wonders by freeing up painted windows. They can replace broken panes or hardware. They can even add weather stripping or reframe the window—overhauls like this cost somewhere in the range of $100 to $350 for parts and labor. The main problem with window repairing is that it is temporary. You are patching the problem, not fixing it. Over time you will lose money.
Choose energy-efficient windows
The average heating and cooling bill for Americans is around $1000 a year. Some homes can get as much as 40% in energy savings if they opt for energy-efficient windows. This could provide you with a Return On Investment, also known as ROI, in less than 10 years, depending on the number of windows in your home.
Select the appropriate window material
In today’s industry, lumber is grown and farmed quickly. This process produces lighter, less dense wood. That’s why window wooden frames today are less sturdy than those made a hundred years ago. If you’re on a budget, consider vinyl than wood. Vinyl windows are by far the most affordable choice. They stand up well to all the elements and require no maintenance. You can use this free replacing windows cost calculator to get a better idea of how much you’ll have to spend.
Opt for windows that guarantee your security
No matter which price point you shoot for, check the security features. Some of the most expensive windows on the market come with breakable glass, flimsy latches, and low-grade materials. Make the safety and security of your loved ones a priority. Yes, even for second and third-floor windows. Talented thieves bring ladders.
Select windows that compliment your home style
Aesthetics matter when it comes to windows! Did you know that choosing the wrong windows can decrease the value of your house? It may also make your home less appealing. That makes all the difference in a buyers’ market. Find windows that copy the original architectural pattern. It may be worth your while to find a similar replacement.
Let the experts replace your windows.
Replacing a window is not as easy as it sounds. You need to make sure the new window fits appropriately and assures the highest level of security and comfort. Catching window damage early will save you time, money, and headaches. Avoiding damage altogether by following a preventive maintenance routine is even better. Take care of your windows, and your windows will take care of you.
Don’t just call in any old window company to install your new windows. Make sure you use a company that has a great portfolio and track record in the industry. At Chicago Window Guys, we have 25 years of providing professional installation of top-quality windows and doors. Get free pricing on new windows for your home today.
This article was updated on August 30th, 2021. The original article was written on May 24th, 2021.