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When Should You Replace Your Windows?

English: Cross Section of an energy efficient ...
English: Cross Section of an energy efficient
replacement window for residential buildings.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
By Gates Dearen

Most home owners who have an older home, try to keep their living space beautiful and energy efficient, especially in the summer and winter months. One of the most common questions we are asked when speaking to these home owner is, “When should I replace my windows?”

The windows in your home not only serve to add character and beauty, but also have essential functions to keep the home properly lighted and insulated. Do you choose to open your windows to allow the fresh air to permeate your home during spring cleaning? Do you enjoy feeling a cool spring or fall breeze throughout the house when the windows are open? Do you have enough natural light in your home? Do your windows fit the style of your home and make it more attractive?

Windows that are in good condition, that keep the elements out and accent your home, are essential in making your home more comfortable and elegant. Windows that are older and have too much wear and tear can cause potential damage to your home.  We are going to investigate some of the key signs that tell you when it’s time to replace your windows.

SIGN #1 – Your Windows are Difficult to Open

New windows won't stick!
If you dread the thought of trying to pry open your windows because it is too difficult, it may be a good time to replace them. Everyone in your home should have the ability to open or close a window and if that’s not the case, this can be an extremely hazardous situation, especially in the event of a fire.

If the balance mechanism in a window starts to fail, the window won’t be able to stay open on its own. This happens more often with older windows which is a sign they need replacing. Rot and rust can occur when metal and wood windows are not painted correctly. As a result, the balance mechanism will fail to work properly and the window will not stay in the up position, which can cause them to slam shut, creating yet more damage.

SIGN #2- The Atmosphere inside is similar to the atmosphere outside

If your windows are closed and you still feel the outside elements inside your home, it’s probably time to replace them. This is especially true with single-pane glass windows which are not energy efficient and literally let the outside elements into your home. These windows can freeze in the winter and increase the chances of cracking and breakage.  They can leak air and allow water to come into your home and cause mold and mildew to form and fester.

Excessive humidity inside your home can cause damage throughout. It can get into the walls and attic allowing water to freeze in the winter and melt in the warmer months causing damage to the plaster in your walls. This is a serious issue and should be addressed because of the potential damage to the home’s structure.  Too much humidity inside the home is also a potential health hazard, not only due to the potential growth of mold and mildew, but it can contribute to upper respiratory illness in individuals with allergies and asthma.

Watch this short video testimonial about Homerite Windows and Doors.

SIGN #3- Your Energy Bills are Too High in the Winter and Summer Months

When your windows are not energy efficient, the result is higher heating and cooling costs. Too much solar radiation admitted through a window can heat up a home during the summer months and require more cooling in order to be comfortable. This is helpful in the winter months but probably means the solar heat gain coefficient is too high and may require window replacement.  In the entire window assembly, heat loss and gain can occur through cracks in the system. Your windows may have a high air leakage rate, which allows too much air in or out. Even good windows may allow a bit of infiltration, but it should never be noticeable.  If your windows are not resistant to heat flow, the U-Value (the measurement of heat loss) is too high and will consequently lead to higher energy costs.

SIGN #4- Your Carpeting and Furnishings are Fading Fast

Fading can occur when UV rays from the sun pass through your windows onto the interior surfaces. Older windows do not have the same glazing as newer energy efficient windows. Expensive artwork and fine furnishings should be protected by using a low emission (low-E) coating that protects the interior of your home from the sun’s rays. Most new windows sold now have this feature.

SIGN #5- Condensation Inside Your Windows

New Modern windows will not produce condensation.
This applies to double and triple-paned windows. If condensation is occurring inside the glass, the entire window may need to be replaced because the seal may have failed. If this occurs, then the window is not providing a barrier to the outside elements.  Double and triple-paned windows have a layer of gas, usually argon, between the panes. If multiple-paned windows become foggy, it usually means the seal itself has been compromised.  Silica pellets inside the perimeter strip that usually absorb moisture from the air in between the panes can be over-saturated and cannot absorb the moisture causing condensation to form.

If left untouched and the condensation continues, it can potentially leave irreversible damage to the window. “River-bedding” occurs when droplets form and follow a path down the window which cut grooves similar to a river running through a canyon. “Silica haze” looks like snowflakes and occurs when the pellets are saturated and have been eroded by air currents. This is another sign that the window needs to be replaced.

SIGN #6- Your Windows are Mismatched

You have made the biggest investment of your lifetime - a home purchase. You may have an older home that could use a few style touches, or you may have a home with mismatched windows. As we have discussed, older windows not only come with a host of problems, but can also be unattractive – even inappropriate. Replacing your windows can provide improved style and beauty to your home. There are so many designs to choose from that will not only enhance the character of your home, but also provide the energy efficiency to reduce heating and cooling costs and add more comfort.

In this article, I have provided some of the key things to look for when trying to decide if it’s time to replace their windows. It is an investment that can pay off in energy saving and add beauty, value and comfort to their home. 

Here are some related article you may want to also read.  Small Windows That Make a Big StatementHow Do You Check for a Leaky House? and Enhance Your Home’s Curb Appeal.

If you would like to receive an official factory authorized 30% discount coupon for your next window replacement purchase, print out this article with the coupon on it  and bring it with you when visiting HomeRite.

Gates Dearen is the co-owner of HomeRite Windows and Doors in Jacksonville, Florida. Owners Dearen and Richard Walden have been serving the building products industry in Florida for over 25 years. They know the products, the industry, the market and what adds great value to a home. Their approach is somewhat different than others.  They strive to match the homeowner with the right windows and doors for their home and budget.  They know that some home improvement projects can be a hassle.  They strive to make the process pleasant with first-rate, energy efficient products; affordable prices; and expert, award-wining installers that employ the best practices and who respect your home as if it were their own.

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  1. Not too long ago my homes windows where showing many of these problem signs so we made the plung and replaced them. We saved a bunch of money on energy the first year until JEA jacked up the rates. I would hate to see what we would be paying if we hadn't upgraded our 20 year old windows.

  2. The time to replace your windows is when you are losing more in energy than it costs to buy the windows. For most homes that equals about every 15 years.

  3. I love the fact that there is a chart and a video. For a topic like this, text only is a material far too simple to shed a proper light on the issue.