When things are working well, you don’t think about your windows. And that’s the way it should be. So if you’re noticing your windows, that’s already a sign that they may need to be replaced. But how do you really know it’s time to replace your windows? Also, is a replacement always necessary, or can you get by with a repair? If you’ve been noticing your windows lately, take a look at these signs you need a replacement to decide if the time is right for new windows.
Windows Won’t Stay Open
One of the great thing about having windows in your home is that they give you a chance to let in some much needed fresh air. If you’re stuck inside on a warm spring day, there’s nothing more enjoyable than opening up your window for a little breeze. If your room is feeling stuffy, having a window you can crack open can make all the difference. And let’s not forget those times when you really need to open a window. Whether you have a nasty smell, chemical fumes, or even a little smoke from a kitchen experiment gone wrong, opening a window can be a great relief.
But if your window won’t stay open, you may be out of luck. If you open your window only to have it slam shut the moment you let go, you may be in for a replacement. Windows that won’t stay open can be a danger, too, especially if they don’t slam shut right away. A window that looks like it’s open only to randomly come down with great force can hurt anyone who happens to be in the way, like your fingers, your children, or your cat. If a window hasn’t stayed open for a while, replacement may be your best bet.
Sure, it’s great to be open your windows when you want to. But when they’re closed, it’s usually for a reason. If it’s too hot or too cold outside, you want to keep the outside air out. But if your windows have aged beyond their functional years, they may not be so effective. If you walk past your window and get a blast of cold air, your windows aren’t doing their job. If you have a room that just won’t get cool in the summer, even with your air conditioner blasting, you may be trying to cool the great outdoors with a leaky window.
If your windows aren’t sealing properly, it might be time for a replacement. But before you replace a drafty window, have a professional take a look. It may be possible to save money with a simple repair. Windows can last 25 years or more, but weather stripping can often fail sooner than that. Sometimes all you need is some new weather stripping, so don’t pay for a new window if you don’t have to. Of course, if the frame of the window is the source of your leak, weather stripping won’t do it. You’ll probably need a whole new window.
Windows Won’t Open
Windows that won’t stay open can be a real pain, but if you can’t get them open in the first place, you are missing out on an essential feature of windows. Sure, it’s nice to have a little sunlight from your windows, but most windows do more than that. If you can’t let in some fresh air our air out a room, you’re not getting the most out of your windows.
The reason a window won’t open has a significant effect on whether it needs to be replaced. Sometimes a window is just painted shut. Decades of paint, or even one sloppy paint job, can seal a window shut. If that’s the case, a window professional or even an experienced handyman can probably unstick the window. (Check out this post if you plan on hiring a handyman.) But sometimes, the problem is more complicated. Sometimes the framing on a window can swell with years of humidity. A window can also become unbalanced. In either of these cases, the frame may be damaged in a way that defies easy repair. If your frame is keeping your window from opening, you may need a replacement.
Windows Won’t Get Clean
If you have double pane windows, you may eventually end up with the dreaded uncleanable fog. Double pane windows are a great way to increase the energy efficiency and insulating properties of glass windows. Two panes of glass are separated by a small gap that is filled with air or an inert gas. But when the seal on the window begins to leak, you can get condensation between the two panes. Because the condensation is on the inside of the two panes, there’s no way to wipe it off or clean it. This can cause permanent unsightly fogging. There really is no solution to this problem other than a full replacement.
Sometimes you may hear the wind howling outside. But what you shouldn’t be hearing is your windows rattling in the wind. If you are hearing rattling, tapping, or other sounds coming from your window, it’s a sign that something is wrong. Either the panes of glass or the whole window has come loose. On many older windows, the panes of glass are held in place by wooden frames and sealant. If the sealant dries and cracks, the windows can become loose enough to move in a strong wind. This increases the danger of drafts and even breaking. Sometimes, the wood itself is to blame. Rotting wooden frames can open up enough space for a window to move around and rattle.
If the rattling is the result of cracked sealant, you may be able to save the window with some new sealant. However, if the sealant is cracking, it’s just a matter of time before other parts of the window start to go. It may be a good idea just to replace the window now. If the problem is the result of rot, you may not be able to repair the window. Rotted wood needs to be replaced. By the time you’re replacing rotted wood, it may be worth just replacing the whole window.
Whole Window Replacement vs. Inserts
Replacing a window can be expensive. Between parts and labor, you could end up spending a few hundred dollars for a small window or even a thousand dollars or more for larger windows and specialty materials. One way to save some money is to use inserts instead of replacing the whole window. In a typical window replacement, the contractor has to remove the trim on the inside and outside of the window, remove the entire window with its frame, replace the window, and reattach the trim. But with an insert, a single unit with the frame and glass fits into the existing opening, with no need to remove the trim. Some window insert kits are even sold as do-it-yourself window replacements.
Whether you want to use an insert depends on what you want out of your window repair. An insert doesn’t look the same as a new window. The insert has its own frame that fits inside the existing opening so you will lose 2-4 inches of window space. The extra framing also changes the appearance of the window. If your window is in an area that is hard to see, it may not make a difference. For instance, replacing a window high up in a bathroom or in a basement with an insert may make sense. But if the window is in a highly visible spot like the main floor of your home, it may be worth considering a full replacement.
If you think you might need new windows, TrustDALE has you covered. Here’s a list of window replacement specialists in your area who are TrustDALE certified.