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How Often Should You Replace Your Windows?

When it comes to improving the performance and efficiency of existing windows, many homeowners and contractors have a number of options to consider. You can opt for simple, low-budget repairs, such as replacing insulation or installing window film, or capital-intensive solutions that require you to replace the entire window with a new one.

Often homeowners make a decision without having to understand their options, evaluate the implications of changes in terms of improved energy efficiency and cost savings, or even the age of existing windows. While you don’t necessarily have to wait until your windows are extremely damaged to consider replacement, it’s still important to have an idea of how long your investment will last before needing replacement again.

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So how long can you expect a new window installation to take?

Many window design experts agree that new, quality windows should last between 15 and 20 years before you start thinking about replacing them. Most vinyl window companies often offer a 20-25 year warranty, which is essentially a lifetime warranty – the life expectancy of the product.

For about 15-25 years, you can expect to regularly repair your windows, add caulking and insulation, and perform a variety of other temporary repairs. But eventually, you will have to replace the entire unit.

Signs that your windows need to be replaced include:

  • Cracked window pane/frame
    Some types of window damage, such as those that can be repaired with a new protective coating or replacement of the hardware, should be repaired immediately. But a warped, broken, or damaged window sash or frame should be replaced – not repaired. A damaged window frame is not only unattractive, but also compromises the efficiency of insulation, siding, heating, and air conditioning. Cracks can also let in small pests and insects.
  • Fogged glass
    This problem only occurs when you have double or triple-glazed windows. Condensation gets trapped between window panes, usually from an opening or hole that is barely noticeable to you. If your double-glazed windows also have gas, a foggy appearance can also be an indication of a gas leak. A regular double-glazed window is not as efficient as an air-filled window. So when it starts to leak, you should consider replacing it.
  • Soft frame
    If you have wooden windows, excess moisture can cause the window sill to rot on the outside of the house. If the wooden sill is soft to the touch – not stiff – you should consider replacing the entire window and frame on the outside. Even if you don’t notice any other defects in your windows, the window will likely start to fail in the near future.
  • Get stuck
    Continuous opening and closing of windows create tiny grooves and dents. Over time, the stress of multiple window openings can cause cracks to form in the frame. Depending on the weight, they can cause the door to stick when opened. These types of wear and tear due to aging are good indicators that your windows need to be replaced.
  • Draft rooms
    Well-functioning windows should not let air in, except through special openings depending on the design. But if cold drafts are entering your home through openings other than the vents, even after several rounds of caulking and insulation, it may be time to install new windows.
  • High energy bills
    A significant part – about 41 percent – of current household expenses goes to heating and cooling your home. If you notice that your energy consumption is increasing, your windows may be the problem. Replacing old, failing single-pane windows with Energy Star-certified products can result in significant savings in your energy costs.

Retrofit versus complete window replacement

Homeowners are influenced by a number of factors to upgrade their windows, including energy savings, the need for better insulation and improved comfort, or simply reducing their carbon footprint by reducing energy costs. However, some may choose retrofit strategies over replacement to extend the life of their existing windows, preserve the original materials of their home, or delay such valuable resources from being sent to landfills.

Upgrading extends the life of your existing windows, but it doesn’t necessarily translate into significant gains in energy savings. However, initial investment costs can be a key driver in influencing a homeowner’s decision between upgrading and replacing. Without a professional energy analysis, however, it can be difficult to make informed decisions about whether certain window retrofit or replacement measures will pay off in the short or long term.

Windows replacing

Remodel your home

If you notice signs of aging windows, you should make a decision between retrofitting your existing windows and replacing them. Consider window repairability, longevity and maintenance of your retrofit strategy, and your budget. Get an expert energy audit to help guide your decision. But if your windows are from the last millennium, you should definitely replace them to enjoy the benefits of newer window technology.

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