This is a difficult question. New windows offer a lot of benefits – they’re new, they’re easier to operate, more efficient, easier to clean, and remove a lot of the unwanted maintenance of older windows. The downside to replacing your windows is an obvious one – cost. Replacement windows are expensive and recouping that initial cost will take years. So how do you know which solution is right for you? First, ask yourself the following questions:
1. Are your current windows a pain to manage?
Can you deal with the regular maintenance of older windows – painting, scraping, installing storm windows, etc – or are you sick of it and ready to move past the hassle? Some things to think about:
- Ease of Operation. Do your windows move, slide, and swing freely without hassle, or do you resist messing with them when you want air circulation?
- Painting. If your windows are painted, you’ll have to perform regular maintenance in order to keep your windows operating properly and not falling apart. If you purchase new vinyl or aluminum windows, this eliminates the need for regular maintenance.
- Condensation. Do you often see condensation and moisture collecting on or in your window panes? If so, new windows with multiple panes can eliminate this problem.
- Storm Windows. Do you have an older home that requires you to install storm windows? Do your storm windows need replaced? Do you hate installing them every year? If yes, consider replacing.
- Cleaning. Do you avoid cleaning your windows because it’s too difficult or dangerous? New windows are designed so that cleaning them is much easier. Most new double hung windows have a “tilt-in” feature where you can tilt the windows down and into your home to clean the outside from the safety of the inside of your home.
2. Do you notice fluctuations in the temperature of your home?
Is your home cold in the winter and hot in the summer, despite your furnace or air conditioning being turned on? Do you have single pane windows? You may want to consider replacing with double or triple pane windows. These newer, more efficient windows block a lot of the heat from outside when it’s hot and keep the cold air from entering your home in the cooler times of the year. Replacement windows can also help lower your monthly energy bills, but don’t expect that savings to recoup the cost of the windows any time soon.
3. Would you consider repairing your existing windows?
Depending on how bad of shape your current windows are in, repairing any damage might be the better solution than spending thousands on replacing them. Some problems to look out for include:
- Wood Rot. Once your windows begin to show wood rot, regular maintenance is required in order to keep your windows from completely failing. If you don’t have the time or patience for this, replacement is your best option.
- Hardware Issues. Do you have crank out windows that are stuck or hard to open? You might be able to replace the hardware or crank mechanism to fix the problem. Or, you could have a frame issue. If hardware is bent or no longer functioning, you could consider replacing it, or it could be sign that replacing the entire window is the better option.
- Fogging or condensation inside a double pane window. Do you see condensation collecting on the inside of your double hung windows? This could be a glass or frame issue, and can be expensive to fix. Consider replacing.
No matter what you decide, the most important thing to consider is the safety and comfort of your home weighed against the cost of the solution you choose – repair or replace.