Here’s How to Know When It’s Time to Replace Your Home’s Windows

by Erin VaughanAugust 29, 2017

There are no hard and fast rules for how long a window will last. After all, it depends on your location, the kind of weather you get, and the type of windowsyou install. However, once you know how to look for them, it’s easy to suss out the telltale signs that a window replacement is imminent. Maybe it’s a subtle indicator, like a phantom draft or a stuffy room. Or maybe the proof is right in front of you—condensation between the panes or a frame that’s warped so badly it hasn’t been opened since you moved in. Whatever the reason, windows will let you know when they’re ready to be retired. Here are some of the more evident signals.
when to replace windows with evident mold

Your Energy Bills Are Getting Out of Hand

Windows are sort of like the Achilles heel of home insulation: they not only provide opportunities for air infiltration and heating and cooling losses, they also allow summer heat into your home directly through the glass. On the other hand, though, they provide a lot of the stuff we need to be happy at home—ventilation, a nice view, and some sunshine—so they’re pretty much vital to our health and vitality.

The trick is to invest in windows that allow the outdoors in without taking the weather along for the ride. But older windows usually don’t have all of the energy-saving bells and whistles of modern models, which can slowly inch up your utility expenses. On today’s windows, for instance, gas-filled insulation keeps homes cozier throughout the seasons, while low-E glazing, a microscopically thin metal coating on the surface of the glass, blocks solar heat outside while reflecting heating and cooling back into the interiors. Additionally, high-performance thermal spacers create a tighter seal and reduce heat conductivity and condensation between the panes. Energy-efficient windows typically cost more than economy models, but they’re a good bet if you’re already planning a window replacement—or if your energy bills just seem too darn high.

Your Windows Need a Facelift

Old windows may look great hanging on a craft store wall, but they sort of lose their kitsch appeal when they’re installed within the walls of your home. Old windows often have bowed sides, peeling paint, sagging frames, mold stains and other unattractive qualities that highlight their eyesore status. Or maybe they’re just going out of style. Window trends change along with everything else in the home, so if you’ve been thinking about trying out a new style in your home, there’s no reason to wait.

Many on-trend homeowners have started to trade their homes’ neat, suburban rows of double-hung windows for more unique styles and profiles, such as large picture windows, floor-to-ceiling window walls, or window panels that travel high up the wall to reflect the home’s unique architectural characteristics. The idea is to increase the windows’ surface area, allowing in more light in a celebration of the view outdoors. Although retrofitting a home with larger windows can present structural and financial challenges, many homeowners have gotten away with it by combining two parallel double-hung windows into a vast casement window, or by converting an existing window into a set of glass doors. These changes open up a dim or crowded room and affect both the lighting and the overall ambiance of a space, while also dialing up the home’s curb appeal. That’s reason enough for a window remodel right there!
Image of living area when to replace windows

You’re Never Quite Comfortable in Your Home

You know the feeling. Every time you walk by that one particular spot in your home, a chill creeps up your spine. Either you’ve just ventured into some paranormal activity, or your windows are letting in the cold air. Or maybe you have the opposite problem—one room in your house always feels stuffy or hot, regardless of the temperature in the rest of your home.

Vast temperature differences like these can be indicative of an issue with your windows, although occasionally these kinds of issues may be resolved with a little weatherproofing, particularly in the case of drafts. On the other hand, if you’ve already trying resealing or if your windows are a couple of decades old, it may be time to replace. Other telltale signs include condensation between the panes of glass. In double pane windows, this is a clear indication that air—and moisture along with it—is getting inside, a sure sign of seal failure. When you see this, you know it’s time for new windows.

Your Windows Are Hard to Open

Windows don’t just impact your home’s comfort or aesthetics, they’re actually a safety feature, as well. A non-functioning window is more than a petty annoyance, it can easily become a hazard if you need to use it to escape in the event of an emergency. Windows frequently warp with age—especially if you have wood frames and a high-humidity climate—which makes them harder to open. Sometimes the foundation in your home simply shifts over time, causing the windows to become misaligned. Or maybe they were just painted shut by an unthinking previous owner.

Often these issues are resolved by liberally applying Vaseline or WD-40 along the tracks. Some homeowners have successfully pried open painted windows with a putty knife and crowbar. However, if that doesn’t work, you should start seriously considering a window replacement. New windows may be pricey, but when your family’s safety is involved, there’s no price too steep!

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About The Author
Erin Vaughan
Erin Vaughan is a blogger, gardener and aspiring homeowner. She currently resides in Austin, TX where she writes full time for Modernize, with the goal of empowering homeowners with the expert guidance and educational tools they need to take on big home projects with confidence.
  • Matt Moretti
    September 18, 2017 at 4:23 pm

    This is a great guide, Erin. Thanks for sharing. We talk to our customers a lot about how to identify when it’s time for a new set of replacement windows. Also, choosing the right style makes all the difference in transforming your home.

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