Unless you live in a bunker, you’ve likely noticed that windows are one of the most important components of your home. Windows are functional: they allow your home to breath, they allow you to see outside while keeping the elements out, and they are major heating and cooling assets. They’re aesthetic: they can either increase or detract from your home’s overall look. Because windows are so important, it should be on the tippy top of your homeowner’s list of concerns if you suspect there is something wrong. Here’s a short list of telltale signs you may need to look into window replacement.
Your windows just don’t work. This can mean that you have broken window panes, the weather stripping isn’t doing the trick (more on that later), the locks won’t work, the sash doesn’t open, etc. Any time that your window isn’t operating in the way that it should is a sign that you may need a replacement. Sometimes you can get a much better deal on a window repair rather than a full blown replacement; however, if you have old, wooden windows, you might want to consider a replacement, even if it’s not a hot bargain. Wood expands and contracts with the hot or cold air and will ultimately become warped and totally impossible to repair over time.
If you have double pane windows, and you see condensation between the panes, that is a sure sign that you need a replacement. There are a couple repair options, but even if the condensation can be repaired, your window will never operate up to its original performance. Double pane windows have a gas sealed between the panes for insulation–usually krypton or argon. If you see condensation that means the sealant has failed, and the thermal gas has for sure leaked out. You can typically have the window panes replaced, and that is the best option.
Window frames that are made of wood should be checked for decay regularly. Wood rot is something that can spread quickly (it’s comparable to rust on a car), so its replacement is a major priority. Wood should never, ever be soft. If you can push a flat head screwdriver into your window frame, you have wood rot. If you have wood on other parts of your window such as the jambs or sash, you should check those areas for wood rot as well–especially if the frame was soft. A second indication that your window frames are in decay is a bit more obvious–the paint. If it’s chipping or peeling off, you’ll need to look into replacement.
If you notice that your house is drafty there are a few things you can do to repair for a while. An air leak can leave you cold and broke–you’re paying for that lost air every minute that your heat (or AC during the summer) is on. You can replace the weather stripping on windows, cover them with plastic, install a storm window. But ultimately you’ll need to replace your windows to truly fix the problem.