Are you thinking about updating your windows, but not sure if it's really necessary?
In some cases, you may be able to hold onto old windows. However, if you're experiencing serious issues with their structure or efficiency, it's a telling sign to update them ASAP.
"Years of use can wear out windows in many ways," says Jeff Moeslein, president of Legacy Remodeling, a specialty remodeling company in Pittsburgh, PA. And in many cases, the only way to deal with the wear is to replace your windows, Moeslein adds.
Check out these clear signs that it's time to replace your windows.
You Feel Drafts in Your Home
Even the best windows will allow a slight amount of air infiltration, but it should never be something you can feel or notice, says Moeslein. If it is, your comfort may be in jeopardy.
Why? Because windows wear out over time and let more air in, Moeslein says.
"For example, wood windows can become warped from exposure to moisture and this can make the window too tight to operate properly in some places, while creating gaps in other areas," Moeslein explains.
Another example of how air can infiltrate a window? When the corners of the sashes and frames become loose and create gaps that allow air to penetrate the window, Moeslein adds.
And while your first instinct may be to apply weather stripping, it's good to note that noticeable drafts often indicate an air leak caused by more than missing or damaged weather stripping, according to Moeslein. In fact, sealing and weather stripping should not be considered as anything more than just a temporary fix, according to Aaron Magden, vice president of sales at Window Nation.
"It really isn't a permanent fix because sealants expand and contract, which will lead to gaps again soon," Magden adds.
So, what's the best solution to avoid these drafts? Replacing your windows entirely.
You Have Difficulty Shutting or Opening Your Windows
Window replacement 101: If you can't open or close your windows properly, it's time to get new ones.
This is especially true for older double hung and single hung windows, which have issues with balance, says Moeslein, who adds that "the balance is the mechanism that keeps the window up when you open it."
When the balance fails, the window will no longer remain up when opened and can slam shut, posing a potential hazard, he adds.
Wood and metal windows can also experience similar operating failures, according to Vern Robinson, a general contractor in the Denver area.
"Wood and metal windows that haven't been properly painted can rot or rust, which can also cause them to fail to operate correctly," Robinson explains.
There's Condensation Inside the Glass (of Double- or Triple-Paned Windows)
If you have double- or triple-paned windows and notice condensation or fog inside the glass, you might need to replace the glass or the entire window - depending on the seriousness of the issue.
That's because condensation and fog between the glass panels can indicate seal failure, according to Moeslein. He explains that when the seal fails, moisture is able to enter the space between the panes of glass and as a result, air will condense on the glass. And when this happens, the insulated glass is no longer doing its job - which is to create a barrier to cold air, says Moeslein.
Here's one more clue that the seal has failed: Condensation in between the panes of glass will leave a white film which is caused by calcium deposited on the glass, Moeslein says. "If you see this white film, even if there is no visible condensation, it's a safe bet that the insulated glass unit has failed."
Your Energy Bill is Expensive
If your heating and cooling costs are high, it's likely that you have an inefficient furnace, or old windows that are simply not energy efficient, says Moeslein.
So, should you replace your windows?
According to the Department of Energy's (DOE) website, "If your home has very old and/or inefficient windows, it might be more cost-effective to replace them than to try to improve their energy efficiency. New, energy-efficient windows eventually pay for themselves through lower heating and cooling costs, and sometimes even lighting costs."
What are your best bets for energy-efficient windows?
The DOE suggests looking for windows that have at least two panes of glass or ENERGY STAR® labeled windows. These are high-performance windows which meet efficiency guidelines set by the DOE.