Replacing the windows in your home is probably not the exciting and dramatic type of home remodeling project you really want to do, but this winter it might be the project you need to do. The truth is, windows make a huge difference in a your home's appearance and your family's comfort. If you have been wondering whether it is time to replace the windows in your house, read on.
When Do Windows Need Replacing?
If your windows are in overall good shape, are less than twenty years old, and problems are isolated to one or two windows, then you might simply need a handyman service to perform some minimal repairs. But if you have any of the issues listed below—especially if there is evidence of problems in multiple windows—then it is probably time to consider a complete window replacement. Here are some things to look for.
Rot or Wood Damage
If your home has wood windows, you need to inspect them a couple of times each year for water and insect damage. If the damage is serious enough, you may be able to see it from inside your home, or there may be water damage in the interior walls or ceiling around the damaged window due to leaks. But even if you don't see a problem from inside, you should make a thorough inspection of each window from the outside.
Examine each window, paying close attention to the sill and the lower half of the window frame, since these parts generally suffer the greatest abuse from the weather. Also look at the window sash itself (the wood part that holds the glass panes). If you see areas where the paint is peeling, or where the wood is swollen or bumpy, try pressing it with your thumbnail. If the wood is strong, it should feel firm and fairly hard to indent. If the wood gives or feels spongy, you have a problem. If you find rot, closely check the other windows, especially those on the same side of the house, since they receive similar exposure to the elements.
Windows Don't Open or Operate Smoothly
There are multiple reasons why windows may not open and close properly. The windows may be painted shut. Sashes or frames may be swollen from moisture damage, or from seasonal temperature and humidity changes. The windows may have become slightly out of square as the home has settled. Whatever the reason, if the problem is widespread and persistent, you probably want to address it since it affects your full enjoyment and use of your windows.
If your home has older single-paned windows (a single thickness of glass vs. modern double-paned or tri-paned windows which have two or three layers of glass with a space between panes), new windows will provide significant energy savings, and keep your home more comfortable year round. The glass portion of a window is the greatest culprit when it comes to poor energy efficiency. The problem is heat transfer across the glass - in summer, heat from outside crosses the glass into the home; in winter, warmth from inside is lost through the glass. There are two primary reasons that double- and triple-paned windows (sometimes called thermal windows) are more energy-efficient. First, the space between the panes helps to slow down heat transfer. Windows filled with argon or krypton are superior to windows filled with air; windows with a vacuum between panes are the most efficient of all. The second factor that improves the energy efficiency of these windows is a "Low-E" coating applied to the surface of the glass. This is a microscopically thin metallic coating applied to the glass that helps to reflect long-wave infrared energy (heat), to prevent bi-directional heat transfer. In other words, warmth from outside can't penetrate in summer, and warmth from inside won't escape in winter. In double-pane windows, one pane will have a Low-E coating. In tri-pane windows, two panes may have the Low-E coating, further minimizing heat transfer.
Windows are Drafty
If your windows are not well sealed, you will have a difficult time keeping your home comfortable. How do you know whether your windows have an air leak? First, inspect your windows from inside. Look closely all the way around each window. Can you see any daylight? Even the thinnest sliver of daylight means windows are not airtight. Go outside and examine each window all the way around. Look for caulk that has separated or become brittle. Gently nudge the window. If you can feel the window moving or hear it rattling in the frame, the window is not well sealed and almost certainly not airtight. Your heated winter air will flow right out of these drafty windows.
Outside Noises Are Disturbing
Another problem with older windows is that they allow noise pollution to enter the home, which can be especially problematic if you live in a noisy or congested area. Well-sealed duo-paned or tri-paned windows can make a huge difference in the amount of noise that penetrates into the home.
Double-Pane Windows are Fogged with Condensation
When the seal on a double-paned window weakens and eventually fails, it allows moisture-laden air to penetrate between the panes, causing a foggy appearance. Fogged windows are unattractive and reduce your visibility. More important, once the seal on a thermal window is compromised, the window loses much of its insulation value and energy-efficiency, so if several of your double-paned windows are fogged, you might want to consider replacement windows.
Features of Modern Replacement Windows
In addition to being more energy-efficient, quieter and easier to operate, modern windows have many other features that you will appreciate. Replacement windows are available in a variety of durable, low maintenance materials, ranging from PVC to fiberglass to vinyl, all of which are impervious to water and termite damage. Most of these modern materials can be stained or painted to look like traditional wood windows. Vinyl windows, which are available in a variety of colors, never have to be painted.
To achieve a certain style, you can order your new windows with a custom arrangement of the muntins (sometimes called grids or sash bars). For example, if you prefer a Craftsman look, you might want to order your windows with a 3-over-1 or 6-over-2 layout. Today many homeowners are opting for no window grids at all, for a clean, unobstructed view.
New windows are also available with coatings that block damaging UV rays to prevent fading of your furnishings, carpets and floors. And many new windows are designed to tilt in for easier cleaning.
The Best Time to Replace Your Windows
Your windows bring light into your home, allow you to enjoy beautiful outdoor views, and are integral to the style and design of your home. At the same time, they are responsible for most of the energy waste in your household. If your windows are in poor repair, it negatively affects your home's value, your family's comfort, and your utility bills.
The optimal time to do something about it is before the colder months hit. The work of removing and replacing the windows, and then caulking and painting the new ones can be done more easily while the weather is dry and temperatures are above freezing. Fall is a great time for a project like this!
If you have questions about the various types of replacement windows and options available, or would like a free estimate for replacing your home's windows, contact EXOVATIONS today!