When Should You Replace Those Old Windows and What Are the Warning Signs?

This old window is showing signs of water damage and wood rot.

This old window is showing signs of water damage and wood rot.

It’s a question that’s not on everyone’s mind. ‘When should I replace my windows?’ Unfortunately for home improvement contractors, replacement window projects aren’t at the top of people’s priority lists. Usually it’s the flooring, kitchen or bathroom remodel or outdoor living space that’s catered to first, but that shouldn’t mean your windows should take a back seat because they could be costing you thousands of dollars.

There are specific warning signs you should pay attention to because unseen damages can turn a simple window replacement project into a nightmare. What do we mean by this exactly? Ignore these warning signs and you’ll see water damage, wood rot, mold, termites, jammed sashes and broken hardware — just to name a few.

Has water penetrated around the frames? You may have a problem on your hands. This can lead to wood rot and if water has seeped into the wall cavity behind your siding, then you could have a bigger problem like mold. You should carefully inspect to make sure that it hasn’t turned into wood rot where repairs can become very costly and much more than the cost of replacing your windows.

We’re going to go over a list of common warning signs that you should be aware of where it may be time to change out your windows.

Your windows are drafty?

Do you notice when you move closer to your window that it’s a lot nippier in the winter? Or hotter in the summer? Do the blinds or curtains tend to move on those really windy days? Those are all signs that your windows have draft issues. There are a few reasons to what causes this.

No flashing or flashing tape has worn

Your windows weren’t installed with flashing tape, which helps seal out the elements including rain water and wind. In other cases, you may need new flashing tape because it’s weathered or peeled.

No foam insulation

Your windows weren’t insulated properly to help keep the wind out and the room at a stable temperature.

Cheap caulk

Your windows weren’t caulked on the interior and exterior with good grade material or not enough of it. Using high-quality exterior silicone like OSI Quad will help seal your window properly.

New construction windows

You’re a victim of builder grade windows that the developer put in to save a few bucks. These windows are low-quality and not built to last. On top of that, an inexperienced installer put them in, meaning improper installation techniques occurred to lead to drafty, cold windows.

Not equipped with Low-E and argon gas

Your windows didn’t come with Low-E and argon gas. This helps keep your home temperature regulated during whichever season. Low-E and argon gas generally come standard nowadays, but if you thought you were getting a deal on a $189-$249 replacement window special, you certainly weren’t as these are the worst windows you can buy at the worst quality.

They’re clear glass

Your windows don’t deflect any sunlight meaning in the summer, your AC unit constantly kicks on to push the hot air out of your home. In the winter, the glass is bone cold leading to your heat to run nonstop.

Your windows don’t open or close properly?

Opening and closing a window should be a one finger operation — keyword: should. Do you need to use both hands? Or sometimes even a foot planted on the wall? Then you definitely have a problem.

Are your double-hung wood windows hard to open? That means the wood is swelling. This is caused by high humidity in the air. When humidity levels go down, your windows may open again smoothly, but if they don’t, you can plane or sand down the wood panes to have them operate fine all year round. But maybe that’s not the problem.

Do your windows not shut all of the way? You may say, ‘Yeah, but it’s on the upstairs level, so it’s not like my home will get broken into.’ OK, true, but did you ever think of the outside air?

Air is leaking into your home by the gallon — literally. Windows have CFM ratings (cubic foot per minute), which is the amount of air that seeps into your home per minute. The industry standard is 0.30 CFM, or 24 cans of soda, and that’s with the window shut and installed properly. Imagine if you have a window that doesn’t close all the way and all of that air pouring into your home.

You may think, ‘Well, who cares, it’s summer,’ yeah, and it’s called, ‘Your AC will keep coming on because hot air is easily seeping into your home.’ This leads to higher energy costs. Don’t think because it’s summer, it’s OK. People only tend to think about the winter and heating bills when it comes to drafts.

Do your windows squeak when opening and closing them? Yeah, your windows aren’t supposed to be making noises — period. Debris may be built up in the track or the moving parts may need to be lubricated, cleaned or replaced.

Do you have casement windows with broken cranks? Casement windows are nice and easier to open for say, a kitchen window over the sink that may be hard to reach, but those cranks can be awfully annoying and eventually break after years of wear and tear. If you’re not covered under your warranty to fix them and you have multiple windows like this, it may be time to replace them.

Your windows don’t lock properly?

Are your locks flat out broken? Do the latches stay popped up on casements and sliders or lock into nothing and you can still open the window? That means not only is your home an easy target for break-ins, but again, air is leaking in because your window isn’t properly shut.

Depending on your warranty, you can fix this, but consider how many years old your windows are and if they have any other issues like the ones stated in this article. Sometimes, it is an easy fix like replacing the hardware, however if it’s multiple issues stacked up, it’s a bigger problem and you’re better off replacing your window.

Your windows have condensation between the glass?

When the seal fails around your glass unit, condensation builds up between the glass and creates this appearance.

When the seal fails around your glass unit, condensation builds up between the glass and creates this appearance.

Is there moisture in between the panes of glass that you simply can’t wipe off? Do you notice a rainbow on the glass? Does it look like your window is dirty all of the time no matter how much you clean it? Is there yucky, hard, white grime that you can’t scrub off?

Your glass is not supposed to look like this. That’s condensation between the two glass panels or signs that it’s starting to form. This means that the seal on your double- or triple-pane windows is deteriorating. If you notice a rainbow effect from inside of your home and condensation forming in the middle of your glass, it means you have an argon gas leak. Argon gas is put in between your glass panes to keep the temperature in your home stable no matter the season. Once that leaks, the glass insulation is no good and you have to replace it.

Your windows are cracked?

Did someone come around your neighborhood with a BB gun and crack your window? We’ve actually seen this. Don’t wait until that crack gets deeper eventually obliterating the glass of your window. It’s not rocket science as to why a cracked window is a problem and why you should replace it.

How many of your windows are left to replace?

Have you replaced some of your windows and are just trying to save up more money to finish the job? Then good for you! You’ve already identified that you need new windows. For tips on how much it should cost to switch out your old windows, check out this article here.

It’s important to be aware when you’re starting to have problems with your windows. Sometimes, you can stop minor issues from becoming a bigger problem and that can save you money in the long run.

Are you in the market for replacement windows? Check out The Men With Tools on Staten Island, NY. Call us today at 347-815-4151 for a free estimate.

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