Investing in the time and cost of window replacement is a big decision for homeowners, and one that should not be made without proper research. The right windows for a home not only impact energy efficiency and airflow, but also the home's aesthetic appeal and overall character. It can be difficult to know whether windows should be replaced or repaired and whether the investment will pay off in future savings. Here are some clues to help you determine when to replace your home's windows.
Problems Opening Windows
One of the most common issues with older windows is the ease of opening and closing them. This difficulty can be caused by a variety of factors, from warping window frames to windows that have actually been painted shut. If your windows no longer open easily or you hesitate to let a breeze in for fear of not getting them closed again, this is a problem that needs addressing.
Before you replace windows that are difficult to open, determine the cause of the problem. This might be an entirely different issue, such as the home's foundation shifting, which needs additional attention before buying replacement windows. If a window is painted or sealed shut, the paint can often be scraped off and redone without having to replace the entire window. You may also simply need to replace the window latch or lock to facilitate opening and closing. If a window frame is warped, however, a full window replacement is probably in order.
Rotting or Jammed Window Sashes
Windows should be checked regularly for rot and decay, especially around the wooden frames and sashes. These issues can lead to condensation building up on the inside of your windows, which will exacerbate the rot. Window fog also clouds visibility and impedes the home's energy efficiency.
Sometimes a professional will be able to repair rotting frames and sashes, but in severe cases it might be best to start over with a whole window replacement. In other cases, old windows can be re-caulked or resealed after the damaged parts are removed. Condensation between panes of layered glass means the sashes may have gaps and should be replaced to solve the problem.
Dangerous Window Materials
If your home was built prior to 1960, the original windows may contain leaded glass and should be replaced. Prior to 1978, lead paint was also widely used and can be especially dangerous around windows that are opened regularly. The motion of the window sliding in the frame can easily chip off lead-based paint, exposing children and others to possible poisoning.
For leaded windows, remember that a professional should always handle the window replacement process. This project can produce lots of lead dust that will need to be contained and removed so that others in the home are not put at risk. Contractors should be trained in lead-safe practices in order to be qualified for these types of tasks. The Environmental Protection Agency runs a program that certifies contractors in lead-safe practices, and 14 states also have their own approved programs.
Energy efficiency is a primary consideration when looking at window replacement, as up to 25% of a home's lost energy is through windows. If your windows are drafty, foggy, or cracked, chances are your home is losing lots of heat or coolness every day. Sometimes, drafts and condensation can be fixed by resealing or re-caulking casements and window frames. However, new windows are now designed to better seal out weather elements and keep the home comfortable in every season.
Though energy efficient window replacement can seem costly, these windows will quickly pay for themselves in heating and cooling savings. If you're not sure whether to repair or replace drafty windows, a professional energy auditor can visit your home and help make the best suggestion. For more information on your window replacement options, contact a company like Jerry Newman Roofing & Remodeling, Inc.