If you own a home, you know that repairs and replacements are part of the equation. And since a home is one of the biggest investments many people will make in their lifetime, it’s important to be proactive rather than reactive when it comes to a home’s repairs and replacements. That means having a well thought out preventive home maintenance plan in place. And, being a homeowner who performs enough research into their home’s functions so they can properly identify the signs of wear and tear and contact a professional for a probable replacement when needed, and that includes the windows.
How Long Do Windows Last?
The average lifespan of a window will vary depending on the quality and components used. However, most windows will last between 10 and 20 years, but cheap windows that sell for $150 to $200 might only last for three to five years. Additionally, some manufacturers claim their windows will last for 50 years to a lifetime. However, many of those manufacturers don’t provide any documentation to back up their claims. Therefore, you should always perform your own due diligence before making any final decisions about your window purchase.
Six Signs Your Windows Need to Be Replaced
Sometimes how well your windows are performing is not readily apparent. Therefore, there are some red flags you can look for that will help determine whether or not your windows need to be replaced.
- Your windows are drafty.
- You have single pane windows (they don’t have an insulating layer of gas between two panes which makes them less efficient).
- Cracked or warped frames, especially on wood windows.
- Inoperable windows or cracked glass.
- Broken seals (you will see fog or condensation which indicates your windows have lost their insulating properties).
- Increased utility bills.
The Benefits of Replacing Your Windows
There are plenty of benefits that come with replacing your windows. With energy-efficient windows, you will enjoy substantially lower heating and cooling costs, regardless of the climate where you live. New windows will also provide you with improved comfort levels in your home due to eliminating drafts, reducing direct sunlight and the ability new windows have for maintaining the temperature level in a room.
Additionally, new windows that have been properly installed will eliminate frost, condensation, and the impact that fluctuating temperatures and humidity have on your home. You will also experience the increased light new windows provide, as well as reduced fading on your carpet, furniture, and other decor.
Different Window Options From Which to Choose
Since there are so many different window options from which to choose, it’s best to determine what your particular needs are before you begin your search. Do you need lots of natural light? Do you want a traditional or a more modern style window, etc? Once you’ve determined your needs, you have plenty of window options to choose from such as:
- Double-hung windows (least energy efficient windows on the market).
- Casement windows (best for light and air entrance).
- Awning windows (best for maximum light and privacy).
- Picture windows (best for bathroom type settings).
- Transom windows (these are commonly used over a door and are often segmented).
- Slider windows (best for framing a view or to brighten a room).
- Bay or bow windows (best for allowing light to enter from different angles).
- Jalousie windows (these are inexpensive and best for warm weather areas).
- Hopper windows (these are most commonly used for basements).
The Average Cost of Replacing Your Windows
The average cost to replace your windows is between $600 and $1000 per window if you opt for a quality window. However, this amount can vary depending on the type and style of materials used, and your local installation costs for the labor.
Other Things to Consider
1. Window Company Reputation
Before making any final hiring decisions make sure you thoroughly research the reputation of any given company prior to signing the contract.
2. Warranty Fine Print
You should also read the fine print for any warranties being offered. Many window companies offer a so-called “Lifetime Warranty,” which is misleading because “lifetime” in the fine print often states that it’s for the lifetime of the window, not the homeowner. Therefore, this type of warranty is oftentimes misleading.
3. Frame Choice
Another thing to watch out for is your choice of frames. There are a wide variety of frames on the market and sometimes the frames that a window company will recommend is the one that’s best for their bottom line, not yours. Unfortunately, to go into all the different types of available frames is outside the scope of this article. However, there are pros and cons of each type of frame, so make sure you have all the facts before you decide on which type of frame is best for your particular situation.
4. Energy Efficiency and U-Factor
Energy efficiency is another area to pay close attention to if you want to get the best performance possible out of your windows. The first thing to look for is the Energy Star label, but keep in mind that just because it has an Energy Star label, doesn’t necessarily mean that window meets the .30/.30 requirement to qualify for a tax credit. And, the .30 is just a minimum requirement so you might be better served to look for a window with a lower U-factor than the .30 needed to qualify for a tax credit. The lower the U-factor, the more energy-efficient the window will be. The U-factor of a window can be quickly checked on the NFRC website.
The Bottom Line
The best thing you can do as a homeowner is to take the time to educate yourself about proactive ways to maintain your home. This will help you make more informed decisions about what you actually need, don’t need, and how you should proceed when an issue arises, now and going forward.