Should I Repair or Replace My Windows?

Should I Repair or Replace My Windows?

Should you repair or replace your windows? It's a tough decision. Maybe a poor seal is letting a draft in, or it's a struggle to open or close your windows. Perhaps you're seeing water damage or have a high energy bill. These are all problems homeowners eventually run into with older windows. But how will you know when it’s time to replace or repair your windows? We'll discuss that and more in this post.

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Should I Repair or Replace My Windows?

The choice between a window repair and window replacement often comes down to cost but there are other factors to consider before making a decision. We'll detail those reasons below. 

As you read through the article and start thinking more between repair or replacement keep the considerations below in mind.

Considerations

  • Are you having problems with one window or many?
  • Do you want to replace or repair windows one at a time, all at once, or in phases?
  • Do your window problems pose a danger to you or others?
  • Are your windows, in their current condition, a security risk?
  • Do your windows look the way you want them to look?
  • Do you want to pay for your window repair or replacement in full or do you want to finance?

6 Reasons to Replace Your Windows

Window replacement is a long-term solution to existing window problems. For many homeowners that alone is enough of a reason to purchase new windows for a house. Unfortunately, replacing windows isn't cheap. 

Some of our clients decide to replace their windows because they're tired of looking at ugly windows. Others choose replacement because they're tired of struggling to open and close their windows. But why replacement over repair? 

A repair can be a good option if you only want to deal with one or two windows, there aren't extensive problems with the frame, or your home has original wood windows that you want to keep. Full-frame window replacement gives you a whole new window including the window frame. The replacement option solves for rattling, ease of opening and closing the window, glass condition and energy-efficiency, rot in the window frame, lack of insulation between the window and the rough opening, and more. 

1. Damaged Balance 

Struggling to open or close your window? Is it a hung window? My bet is the window balance is damaged. Vertically hung windows have a balance system that makes it easy to operate a window including leaving it partially open and not having to prop it open. Some balance systems can be replaced but you may have a hard time finding the right part. Look for a new window with a durable balance. When you shop around for windows, ask a consultant about the balance system. If you can take the time to manually open some windows, you can feel the difference in quality between old and new window balance technology.

If your window balances are damaged, avoid using the window because it can be dangerous. Sashes that have no support from the window balance can fall quickly, you don't want your hands or someone else's hands to be in the way if and when that happens. The speed at which the window falls can also be bad for the sash and glass.

2. Broken, Cracked, or Warped Frame

Wood, aluminum, and vinyl window frames all react to temperature. How they react depends on the material and construction of the window. Some problems you may see are breaks, cracks, and warping in the frame. Breaks, cracks, and warping make it difficult to open and close windows. They also allow water, air, and bugs to enter the house. 

3. Failed Glass Seal

A failed glass seal is identifiable as condensation or debris between your window panes. Glass failure is common in insulated glass units but it usually takes several years to occur. In North Texas, where our housing market is seeing record demand builders often use cheaper, lower-quality windows that experience seal failure within 2-3 years after installation. The best solution is to replace the existing windows with ones that are designed to last several years.

When looking for windows, ask about the quality of the window spacers. 

Qualities to look for in window spacers:

  • Flexibility to absorb the stress caused by thermal expansion and contraction
  • Warm edge to reduce condensation and prevent mold
  • Creates a tight seal to prevent the leakage of the windows insulating gas

4. Windows that Offer Minimal Insulation or UV Protection

The glass makes up the biggest surface of a window. When thinking about energy efficiency, it's important to consider the qualities of the glass in your windows. Can you feel the heat through your windows in the summer, even when the air conditioning is running? What about in the winter, does the air around your windows feel cold? Window film won't solve those problems but replacement windows will.

Modern replacement windows are made with insulated glass units (IGU) of two or more panes of glass and microscopic layers of glass coatings. IGUs make it difficult for heat to transfer through the glass and glass coatings reduce the amount of light and UV rays entering your home. In Dallas-Fort Worth, we always recommend double-pane windows with Cardinal Low-E 366 glass to our clients. 

5. Excessive Rattling or Drafty Windows

Excessive rattling and drafty windows indicate the condition of the window is compromised. Both of these problems can be caused by a loose glass or loose sash. A loose glass can be caused by deteriorated glass seals, if you have an IGU it's likely that the window is also experiencing condensation between the glass panes. Adding or replacing the caulk around the glass may help reduce the noise and draft but it won't replace the loss of insulating gas between the window panes; the windows will still experience condensation between the glass. A loose window sash can be caused by the warping of the window frames. As the frame warps the sash might not fit properly within the track causing it to rattle when it's windy. You can't reshape a warped frame or sash, the only option is to leave it or replace the window unit entirely.

6. You're Ready for a New Look

Although windows are often overlooked, there are many ways to customize their look to complement the design of your home. Choose windows in new colors, different grid patterns, or type of operation. If you want to completely transform a space reconfigure the arrangement of your windows to include more or fewer windows or change the size of the windows. 

5 Reasons to Repair Your Windows

Making repairs to windows is also an option. Below we'll go over some problems that can be solved without replacing the entire window. 

1. Chipped Paint

If your window is made from wood and is free of wood rot and warping painting the window frame and sash is a reasonable repair. In fact, chipped paint in wood windows is normal. Because wood is porous and absorbs moisture it needs to be sealed with stain or paint to prevent water and insect damage. Don't overlook chipped paint in wood windows. 

Chips in paint in other window materials can also be painted over, minor chips in the paint should be touched up. Work with a professional painter for the best results. If you decide to paint over the entire window you'll need to use a specialty primer for the best adhesion. Some painting jobs can result in more flaking, peeling, and chipping, at that point you're better off replacing the window. 

2. Dirty Glass

If there are stains on your window glass that you can't remove contact a professional window cleaner. If the stains remain after a professional service and the rest of the window is in good condition you might want to replace the glass or window sash. Replacing the glass or window sash can also be expensive but cost as much as replacing the entire window unit. This is a good option if you're only dealing with one or two windows, if you consider doing this for all the windows in your home replacement windows will offer better value. 

3. Sticky Lock Hardware

The locking hardware on windows can also be repaired. Sometimes sticking hardware needs to be adjusted or lubricated. In other cases, hardware needs to be replaced. The first place to search for window replacement parts is the window vendor that made your windows. If the vendor doesn't sell replacement parts you can also find them through specialty parts stores online or in person.

4. Worn Out Weatherstrips

Some windows have weatherstrips along one or more edges of the window. When the weatherstrip wears out you should have it replaced to keep a tight seal and to prevent insects or water from getting in. This type of repair can be DIY-ed or handled by a handyman service.

5. Historical Society Restrictions

Your local historical society or homeowners association can also restrict the type of changes you make to your home. In the case of older, historic homes, replacing your windows may not be an option. You can contact a local woodworker, someone who specializes in restoring wood windows and consult with them on how to best manage the repairs of your windows. 

Pros and Cons of Window Replacement

The Pros of Window Replacement

  • Properly installed replacement windows are highly energy efficient
  • New windows can help reduce the cost of energy bills and improve the comfort of the room where the windows have been replaced
  • There are thousands of window vendors making it easier to find affordable options
  • Technology has allowed manufacturers to make stronger, more durable, and more customizable window options
  • New windows from big brands have great warranties, some even have lifetime warranties and transferrable warranties

The Cons of Window Replacement

  • Replacement windows are expensive but if you invest in the right windows they can pay for themselves over time
  • Window installations will interrupt your routine, installers need access to your home to replace your windows
  • Window replacement requires expertise, don't let just anybody install your windows because a poor installation will ruin the windows

Pros and Cons of Repairing Your Windows

The Pros of Window Repair

  • Window repair in historic homes helps maintain the home's architectural integrity
  • Repairs can be a cost-effective option when the window problem is minor and doesn't extend to more than a couple of windows
  • In some cases, window restoration will improve the value of a property while replacement can cause the property to lose value

The Cons of Window Repair

  • Some window repairs and restoration is extremely difficult and expensive to do
  • Finding restoration specialists can be challenging in some areas
  • Homes built before 1960 have lead-based paint that includes the windows, any changes need to be handled with caution
  • Repairing old windows won't result in the energy efficiency of new replacement windows

Window Repairs and Replacements are a Win-Win

At the end of the day, your goal is to solve a window problem. Whichever decision you make will be better than ignoring the problem. If you need help deciding contact a local window expert for a consultation. 

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     -Bobby

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