How do I know it’s time to replace a window?
If your windows are showing their age with wear and tear such as cracked or peeling paint, then you can likely get them back into shape by simply refinishing them. But if they’re sticking, decaying or fogging up, then it may be time to replace them. Look for the following cues to determine whether your windows are due for replacement:
- Old, inefficient window panes: If your windows have only one pane of glass, you’ll benefit by replacing them with double- or triple-paned Energy Star–compliant new windows to improve energy efficiency, save money on heating costs and make your home more comfortable year-round.
- Wood decay: Windows with unprotected wood frames may rot and decay if they are exposed to the harsh elements over time. Termites can also wreak havoc on wood-framed windows. If your frames have become soft and moist and the wood breaks off in little pieces, it’s time for new ones.
- Fog or moisture between the glass: Moisture or fog between the panes is a good indicator that the seal is broken and that cold air and water have leaked inside the window. If this is the case, you may need to replace only the glass, but if the damage is severe, you’ll have to replace the entire window.
- Problems opening or closing. In old homes, wooden window frames have usually been painted many times or become warped with age and weather. Windows that won’t easily open and close are both aggravating and unsafe, and they must be replaced.
- Drafts: To determine if a window is drafty, hold a lighted candle next to the bare window to see if the flame flickers. If so, you could have a seal failure and you’ll pay the price with increased energy bills. Weather stripping can help solve the problem, but replacement will offer superior results if the problem is serious.
- Mold: If your windows let in moisture that leads to mold growth, it’s time to consider replacing them to remedy the problem.
- Noise: Old single-pane windows won’t block noise like new double- or triple-pane windows do. If the noise coming through your windows is impacting the quality of your life, it is probably time to upgrade them.
About the Expert
Jean Nayar is a licensed real estate agent and design journalist who’s authored nine books on decorating and design, including Green Living by Design, the best-selling Staged to Sell (or Keep) and The Happy Home Project: A Practical Guide to Adding Style and Substance to Your Home. The former editor in chief of Kitchens & Baths, Easy Decorating and Remodeling & Makeovers blogs at TheHappyHomeWorkshop.com about living with style, sustainability and substance.