You probably don’t give your windows much thought….until you have rainwater coming in or feel those winter drafts and realize you’re going to need to replace them! Now is the time to learn the pros and cons of replacement windows and the options available to you so you’ll be ready when the time comes.
Only Part of the Window Gets Replaced
Replacement windows are an unusual home improvement item. The entire window is not “replaced”. Only the glass and moving parts, which compose of the majority of the window, are replaced, but the framed portion remains. If the sections around the window, especially below the window where water congregates, are damaged, new construction may be called for.
New Construction Windows
If the area around the window is rotted and considered to be structurally unsound, then you will need a new construction window. In addition, you will need a new, substantial frame around the window to hold it in place.
Single Hung Vs Double Hung Windows
Both single and double hung windows have a lower sash (a pane) that slides upward. When the house gets too warm, you can unlatch the window and slide the sash up allowing air to waft through the screen. The main difference between the two is that with single hung windows, the upper sash is fixed in place and only the lower sash slides up and down. With double hung windows, both sashes can move allowing you to clean windows from the inside.
Bottom line – you will save money with the single hung windows. An added plus is that fewer moving parts leaves less chance of failure. Double hung windows have benefits though, as you can replace the upper sash if it were to become damaged. Also cleaning the outside of the windows is easier with double hung as it allows you to lower and pivot the upper sash to a more ergonomic position.
Sometimes You Can Fix the Window
Higher energy costs don’t necessarily mean that it’s time to replace your windows. It’s possible that the seals on your existing double-glazed windows may have failed allowing hot or cold air to easily pass into the house because the argon or krypton gas has escaped. If this is the case, you can save time and money by simply repairing the window. Consult a professional to ascertain if replacement windows are needed or if a repair will suffice.
Know Your Window Company
Back in the day, men went door-to-door to sell siding or new windows for your home. Unfortunately, that reputation of the over-aggressive salesman with smoke-and-mirror sales tactics has remained. Even today, profit margins can be high, and some companies continue to take advantage of their customers. Take time to do your research and educate yourself prior to signing any contracts. There are good companies out there who strive do the right thing for their customers with fair pricing and excellent workmanship.
Window Replacement Season
If replacement window companies only performed installations during “optimal conditions” such as spring and summer, they would go out of business. Windows may need to be replaced any time of year so any season is window replacement season! Reputable companies know how to work through less than favorable conditions. A good technician knows that caulking may not set well in extreme conditions, or that moisture can affect the tolerances related to the overall installation. The main downside to scheduling a replacement during more temperate seasons is that everyone else is doing the same thing meaning you may or may not be able to get in during your requested time period.
Window Replacement Is Not a DIY Project
Replacement windows are a prime example of knowing when to cry “Uncle” and allowing a professional to take on your home improvement project. You may save money by replacing the windows yourself, but the learning curve is steep and it may take you longer than anticipated to complete the project. Professional window installers have the tools and the skills to complete a window replacement or installation job within hours instead of days. No comparison there. Also, some window manufacturers may only warrant their product if it is installed by a professional.
Which Brand or No Brand?
Replacement window companies come in all shapes and sizes – Small, large, brand name, no brand name, family-owned, etc. How to choose? You can obtain decent no-name brand windows that will serve you for a few years, but keep in mind that all windows are not made the same. Think quality and longevity. It may be a good idea to consult your contractor for their experiences with brands they have used or recommend.
The cost to replace your windows depends on many factors including window materials, type of glazing, and the installer you select. Some homeowners try to cut costs by hiring a handyman to replace the windows which may save you some money. In the other hand, a pro window installer who has perfected the installation process and usually comes with a crew, will save you time and offset that little bit of money you might save with said handyman. An added perk: Replacement windows add value when it comes time to selling your house.
Window Materials Are Important
Homeowners who want to maintain the “classic” look of their home may reject the idea of vinyl windows in favor of wood materials. Today’s vinyl windows are worth a second look. Vinyl framing materials inhibit energy loss, don’t require sealing or painting, and are a much cheaper option than wood.
NOTE – Todays aluminum clad windows are just as efficient as vinyl windows. The statement above is referring to the solid metal construction of commercial windows which are less efficient but not a large enough difference to really write about. Most windows sold today by our go to reps are going to very efficient.
Double Pane Windows
A double pane window, or double-glazed window, is comprised of two sheets of glass with air or an inert gas (Typically krypton or argon) layer in the middle. A double pane window can increase your energy efficiency by almost 100%. Double pane windows are becoming the standard, even in parts of the country that are not ordinarily thought of as having extreme climates. Also, called Insulated Glass or IGU’s (Insulated Glass Units).
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