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When to Repair vs. When to Replace Windows

If you pay atten­tion, your house can give you many signs when something’s not right. And a home’s win­dows are espe­cial­ly com­mu­nica­tive when they need to be repaired or replaced. 

There are two major fac­tors that dri­ve this deci­sion: age of the home and sever­i­ty of the fail­ure. Let’s look at the big pic­ture of repair­ing ver­sus replacing.

Big Picture: Repairing vs. Replacing Windows

Win­dows in old­er homes are the win­dows that should be replaced, NOT a 10-year-old house. 

The claims made by win­dow replace­ment com­pa­nies about ener­gy effi­cien­cy and sav­ing mon­ey on ener­gy bills are based on turn-of-cen­tu­ry homes with sin­gle pane glass and no weath­er­strip­ping. These promis­es of improved effi­cient­ly are over-exag­ger­at­ed for what the indus­try would con­sid­er mod­ern-day” win­dow tech­nol­o­gy, such as those in homes built after around 1980.

When it comes to the con­struc­tion of the win­dow, lit­tle has changed in 40 years. While glass tech­nol­o­gy has cer­tain­ly come a long way, the gen­er­al con­struc­tion of the typ­i­cal wood win­dow hasn’t improved much at all. This means for homes built in the last 30 – 40 years, you should con­sid­er sash replace­ment and/​or repair as the glass itself can still be brought up to cur­rent tech­nol­o­gy stan­dards while tear­ing out and replac­ing the entire frame doesn’t gain much at all. A whole brand new win­dow won’t pro­vide more ben­e­fits than you already have, except for the feel­ing of get­ting new stuff.”

How­ev­er, besides enjoy­ing the feel­ing of buy­ing new win­dows, there are oth­er, legit­i­mate rea­sons to replace your win­dows entire­ly. One rea­son is build­ing codes. Espe­cial­ly in places such as coastal areas, if you update your exte­ri­or, you are required to bring your win­dows up to the newest code as well, which may neces­si­tate replac­ing your windows. 

Anoth­er is frame rot. Some­times the frame has been so dam­aged that even the inte­ri­or struc­ture of the wall has been com­pro­mised. At that point, replace­ment is your only option.

How­ev­er, repair is a far more rea­son­able and cost-effec­tive option for most home­own­ers when pro­fes­sion­als and supe­ri­or prod­ucts are uti­lized. There are few win­dow fail­ures that a repair method can not cor­rect, such as fog­gy glass, rot­ten sash­es, bro­ken hard­ware, worn weath­er­strips, minor frame rot, hail dam­age, bet­ter glass tech­nol­o­gy and more.

All of the most com­mon win­dow issues just list­ed can be cor­rect­ed using qual­i­ty repair kits from a qual­i­ty com­pa­ny. Plus, sash replace­ment takes about 20 min­utes apiece. Whole hous­es can typ­i­cal­ly be switched out in 2 days or less for a 70 – 80% sav­ings, and you don’t have to wor­ry about holes in the side of your house for sev­er­al days when your replace­ment win­dows get delayed.

Here is a list of dif­fer­ent con­di­tions in which you may find your win­dows, and advice on how to know when you should repair or replace your windows: 

1. REPAIR or REPLACE: If your windows are damaged, warped, or broken

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If your win­dows only have some super­fi­cial dam­age, you may be able to get away with adding new weath­er-strip­ping or hard­ware. If this is the case, then repair is your best option. If the win­dow sash or frame is dam­aged, warped, or bro­ken, then replace­ment is often pre­ferred to repair.

If your win­dows show oth­er symp­toms, such as fog­ging up, feel­ing drafty, stick­ing when you try to open or close them or refus­ing to stay open, then it is time to replace your windows.

2. REPLACE: If your windows are costing you too much on your energy bill

Accord­ing to the Depart­ment of Ener­gy, Heat gain and heat loss through win­dows are respon­si­ble for 25% – 30% of res­i­den­tial heat­ing and cool­ing ener­gy use.” If you want to reduce unnec­es­sary ener­gy costs, replace your drafty win­dows with ener­gy-effi­cient ones. 

Plus, if you’re con­sid­er­ing putting your home up for sale in the future, those new win­dows, and the result­ing ener­gy cost sav­ings, can be a big sell­ing point.

To find the win­dows that are right for your home, keep your spe­cif­ic needs in mind as you explore all your options:

Casement Windows

If you want to keep true to the orig­i­nal design of your home, you’ll need to find the right case­ment win­dow. This could prove dif­fi­cult as many old­er mod­el win­dows are no longer cre­at­ed. Instead, try a repli­ca case­ment, such as Fenster’s Quick­Sash Repli­ca Case­ment.

The Fen­ster Quik­sash is a com­plete, assem­bled replace­ment sash with new lowE glass, cladding, and weath­er-strip for a paint­ed or clad-wood case­ment or awning style window.

Double Hung Replacement Windows

If you have a dou­ble hung win­dow in an old­er style, you may run into the same issue as case­ment win­dows. Old­er style win­dows are no longer made and replace­ments are hard to come by. 

How­ev­er, Fen­ster has a Quick­Sash for dou­ble hung win­dows as well. Also known as a sash-pack,” it is designed to fit near­ly any brand of paint­ed or clad-wood tilt-in win­dow with exist­ing vinyl com­pres­sion jamb lin­ers. The kit comes with every­thing you need for a com­plete assem­bled dou­ble hung sash, with an upper/​lower sash set and new bal­ance kit mea­sured for your opening.

3. REPLACE: If your home needs a makeover

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If your win­dows are aging with your home, or you are already ren­o­vat­ing or upgrad­ing the appear­ance of your home, then chances are, your win­dows need replacing. 

Noth­ing sticks out like a sore thumb more than mis­matched win­dows on a ren­o­vat­ed home. Upgrad­ing your win­dows along with your oth­er ren­o­va­tions enhances the over­all appear­ance of your whole home, increas­ing prop­er­ty val­ues and com­plet­ing appeal­ing aesthetics. 

If the col­or is fad­ing or win­dow mate­r­i­al is warp­ing, then it’s time to replace your win­dows. If you are replac­ing your win­dows, take advan­tage of chang­ing the type of win­dow you have, from a fixed sash to a win­dow that opens, to improve air­flow through your home. 

For a more mod­ern look, you may con­sid­er installing larg­er win­dows to bright­en your home with nat­ur­al light.

4. REPLACE: You just survived a severe storm

If you live in a hur­ri­cane zone or area prone to severe weath­er events, you are like­ly pre­pared for the pos­si­bil­i­ty of dam­aged win­dows. In fact, just liv­ing near a coast can do a num­ber on your win­dows, even with­out the help of a major weath­er event. 

If you wor­ry about the effects of sea salt, humid­i­ty or coastal winds, con­sid­er get­ting high­er qual­i­ty win­dow casements.

Fenster’s Quik­sash Clad/​Wood Case­ment Sash­es are guar­an­teed to work and per­form at a much high­er lev­el than the orig­i­nal win­dow by delet­ing engi­neer­ing flaws like boot glaz­ing and exte­ri­or glaz­ing stops. 

These win­dows are made with a mate­r­i­al that expands at the same rate as glass. They are engi­neered with this mate­r­i­al to resist cor­ro­sion and with­stand extreme tem­per­a­tures. Quik­sash is an after-mar­ket sash repli­ca­tion of many old­er major brands that are no longer avail­able and is guar­an­teed to exceed like, kind and qual­i­ty require­ments of the insur­ance industry.

If your old­er win­dows have been dam­aged due to hail, request a quote for Quik­sash.

5. REPAIR: If you’re renovating a historic home

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The wrong win­dow can dra­mat­i­cal­ly change the over­all look of a his­toric home and can even inter­fere with its integri­ty. Home­own­ers often wor­ry that the sash will look too mod­ern. How­ev­er, there are options to repair your win­dows while pro­tect­ing the charm of a his­toric home. 

Win­dows help define your home’s look and can be an impor­tant archi­tec­tur­al detail. Replac­ing win­dows, espe­cial­ly ones with stained or lead­ed glass or dec­o­ra­tive wood grilles, can actu­al­ly low­er the house’s value. 

If you need stained glass or oth­er his­toric com­po­nents not offered by com­pa­nies such as Fen­ster, talk to your local preser­va­tion com­mis­sion. They may pro­vide guide­lines and sug­gest skilled crafts­men and con­trac­tors who can do repairs.

6. REPAIR: If you have rot and jammed sashes

You should inspect your win­dows for signs of decay or water dam­age after every major storm, espe­cial­ly if you have old­er win­dows. If you see signs of water pen­e­tra­tion, then repair your win­dows to pre­vent rot. 

Or if you notice your sash­es start­ing to stick, you’ll need to repair them as well. A pro will be able to repair rot, jammed sash­es and bro­ken parts. But some­times you can do the work your­self. Check out a rep­utable com­pa­ny for advice on how to do repairs your­self and get the parts you need.

Looking to repair or replace your windows?

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If you want to get the best repair and replace­ment kits for your win­dows, make sure to pick a com­pa­ny that has exten­sive knowl­edge of the indus­try and prod­ucts. Experts like ReWin­dow under­stand win­dow con­struc­tion, man­u­fac­tur­ing tech­niques, brand his­to­ry and indus­try terms to build and install a cus­tom-designed win­dow sash. 

Check out our prod­uct lines to find the right parts for your home’s win­dow. Or for more infor­ma­tion or help please con­tact us.

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