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Windows Problems : When to Fix and When to Replace

Spring is an ideal time to take on home renovations, but most of these improvement projects are obvious. How do you know when your windows need to be repaired or replaced, short of seeing them fall apart? And do they need repairing or replacing? Let us guide you through most common window problems and what’s the best solution to solve it. 

You probably don’t realize it, but your windows are a very important aspect of your home. You can open them to allow fresh air to circulate in your home and take in the nice view on a sunny day. Like most things in your home, however, years of use will eventually wear them down. Being able to identify the difference between a fixable and irreparable problem are key.

Are you consistently feeling a draft in your home?

It is normal for air to filter into your home through the window. Not even the best or most costly window will be able to prevent that. Having said that, it’s not something you should notice or even feel. Don’t fret – there’s a quick way to find out if this is happening in your home.

  • On a cold or windy day, take a thin piece of tissue and hold it near the window frame. If it flutters, you’ve got an air leak.

Thanks to wear and tear, windows slowly let more air in and that’s what’s causing the draft you would otherwise never notice. Overtime, it’s common for window frames to become loose. When this happens, it creates gaps that allows for air to filter through.

One of the quickest and easiest ways to reduce heat loss through windows is to seal air leaks by using caulking and weatherstripping. It’s a low-cost fix that can reduce the draft.

Caulking vs. Weatherstripping

You’ve identified the problem and you know how to solve it, but how do you go about finally fixing it? Which solution is best?

  • Caulking is used at fixed joints, such as where the interior trim meets the wall. It should only be used inside.
  • Apply a continuous bead of caulking around the window trim, joints and between the trim and the frame.
  • Weatherstripping is used to prevent air leakage at the parts of an operable window that move.
  • Simply replace the worn weatherstripping or install additional weatherstripping if needed. This fix performs better and lasts longer than caulking.

If you’ve taken it upon yourself to recaulk the windows and add more weatherstripping and find the draft is still there, then you may want to consider having your windows replaced. It doesn’t hurt to consult one of our window experts for a second opinion.

Do your windows stay open?

If you find yourself struggling opening your windows to let in some fresh air, only to find that it won’t stay open, it’s time for a new one. When this happens, the mechanism that keeps the window open is compromised and could cause a health hazard since it could shut at anytime.

Can you see frost and condensation inside the glass?window-condensation

A sure sign your windows should be replaced is if you see condensation, frost or fog inside the glass. These signs indicate the actual window seal is faulty and therefore unable to keep moisture from seeping into the house. Windows are designed to create a barrier for cold air. If this is happening to one of the windows in your home, it is no longer performing the way it should. Not only that, but condensation can lead to mouldy windows and cause rotting around the frames. If you’re a handy DIYer, you may want to put a hold on the repair and head straight to an expert. A window professional can inspect the window and confirm the best course of action.

Are your energy bills higher?

Homeowners are quick to blame a faulty furnace for noticeably higher energy bills. But old windows can also contribute to these rising costs. Dated windows, especially those that are not energy-efficient, could be to blame because they are unable to regulate the air in your home. Take a good look at your heating bills for the last six months. If you’re noticing a steady increase – a good estimate to go by is 30% – then it could be time to bring in the window experts.

Are your windows made with a single-pane glass?

A window with single-pane glass, simply put, is a window with only one sheet of glass. These are common in older homes that still have their original windows. If this is the case in your home, then you are looking at an upgrade as opposed to a replacement. Why? These windows are not energy-efficient. Today, energy-efficient windows are made with two glass panes to ensure these common window problems do not occur. Here are the reasons to consider them if you’re replacing your current windows:

  1. Reduced energy loss. Energy-efficient windows increase the comfort of your home by reducing the amount of cold drafts in your home. This will keep your home warmer during the winter season. In the hot summer months, you’ll find your air conditioner won’t have to work overtime, as the cold air won’t be able to escape the windows.
  2. Help control condensation. The next time it rains or snows, you won’t have to worry about seeing water or ice inside the glass. The interior surfaces of energy-efficient windows are designed to stay warm,  which means your home will be able to maintain a high level of humidity that will prevent condensation from occurring in or on the windows.
  3. Longevity. Condensation is the first sign that your windows are deteriorating, but energy-efficient windows are designed to control and eliminate condensation. Your windows will last longer and you won’t have to worry about dishing out money for repairs and maintenance.

Making the switch to energy-friendly windows will directly impact your monthly energy bills. But when and how will that result in savings? Take a look:

Energy Savings EvaluationThe Numbers
Average energy bill$150 per month
Cost to account for air leakage$45 per month or 30% (out the window!)
Cost of energy-efficient window$400 on average
Time to pay off single window in energy savings8 months

If you buy 4 new windows at a cost of $600, then, well, you do the math.

*These numbers are simply an estimate!  Your average savings depends on the size of your home, how frequently the heat and air conditioner is used, among other factors.

You’ll want to make time to watch this TED Talk: A home builder chats about finding the right balance between energy efficiency and affordability.

A trusted window professional will be able to tell you if purchasing energy-efficient windows are a worthwhile investment despite their high initial cost. It’s also important to remember not all window problems can be solved with a bit of caulking and weatherstripping. Windows do need to be replaced from time to time.

windowsanddoors2Let us help you find that window professional. Consult our database of companies that specialize in window repairs and replacements. Scroll through reviews to help you make an informed decision.

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