Out With the Old: When to Replace Your Old Windows?

May 25, 2021

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The windows of the home really are the eyes of your house. Clear, crack-free glass presents your home in an attractive light and creates excellent curb appeal. However, there comes a time in every homeowner's life when they wonder when it is time to replace old windows

You can know the answer to this question by having a professional evaluation of your current windows by a seasoned technician. Things like cracks, poor insulation, and windows that are past their warranty or decades-old are all indications that fitting your home with a new ser might be on the horizon. It could also be determined that instead of replacing your windows simply need a facelift using modern renovations. Continue reading to discover more about window replacement.

How Do You Know When It's Time to Replace Old Windows?

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Knowing when to replace your old windows is based on many different factors that only you, as the homeowner and your professional window specialist, can answer. There are definitely some tell-tale signs that you should keep an eye on in regards to the condition of your current windows. Below, we'll take a look at some signs and symptoms that may suggest your windows require replacement.

  • Condensation: If you are seeing moisture build-up between your window panes, it's suggested you replace your windows ASAP. Condensation is a clear indication that the windows' seals have failed, and this isn't an easy problem to repair. A professional window installer might be able to replace the panes of glass, but you won't know for sure until a meticulous inspection is conducted.
  • Drafts: Over time, old windows become drafty and allow cold air to seep into your home. This can be a very uncomfortable situation for you and your family, not to mention drafty windows increase energy bills.
  • Hot Windows: Did you know that outdated windows are not insulated well and are more than likely a single pane model? This means when the hot summer sun beats down on the glass, it becomes hot to the touch, thus keeping your indoor air warmer than usual. You'll notice your air conditioner working extra hard under these conditions and causing seasonal spikes in energy costs.
  • Cold Glass: Just like single-pane windows tend to get hot in the summer; you can notice the opposite effect during the winter months. If your windows are cool and frosty to the touch, it is best to replace them with a more insulated model.
  • Broken Window Frames: Small cracks in your window frames aren't typically a significant issue. However, if the cracks continue to grow even after you've repaired them, you probably need a total window replacement.
  • Cracked Windowpanes: Having cracks in your windowpanes is a much bigger problem than cracks in the frames because they lead to home energy efficiency issues. Plus, cracked windowpanes are quite unsightly from the street. You can always opt to replace the broken pane with glass, but it is typically more cost-effective to replace the entire window.
  • Outdated Windows: Your old-timey windows might be functioning perfectly, but they look terribly ugly from the street. If this is the case you find yourself in, you may want to consider total window replacement. Upgrading your vintage windows to more modern models encourages increased curb appeal and ups the value of your home.

window replacement

When Is It Worth Replacing Old Windows?

You should follow a rule of thumb when considering when to replace old windows is whether they can be renovated or not. Renovations are often the answer to many window-related problems. However, it's always best to weigh the costs associated with window renovations against the cost of replacement.

Consider a few factors about your windows, such as whether they are energy-efficient, do they look attractive, and they are safe. 

During a window inspection, you should consider the following:

  • Rot and Jammed Sashes: Inspecting your windows for decay is a must. A professional window specialist might be able to repair rotting wood, jammed sashes, and broken parts, but it isn't guaranteed these fixes will hold out significantly if the windows are severely compromised, rotting, and outdated.
  • Energy Efficiency: Are you able to make your current windows more energy-efficient through renovations? Sometimes, all that is needed is caulk replacement to keep outdoor air from entering your home and vice versa. However, caulk can only do so much, and if your windows are not adequately insulated, you'll still notice increased energy costs.
  • Homes Built Before 1960: If your house was erected before 1960, the chances of your windowpanes having lead-based paint on them are high. Every time you open and close your single-pane windows (the standard style used before 1960), friction is created, and it casts lead into the air. This happens even if you've painted over the original paint.

If your windows fall into any of the aforementioned categories, it might be a good time to consider having them replaced. You'll find that professional window replacement is the more cost-effective option in the long run as well as the safest.

We recommend the following window replacement models:

  • Wood double-hung
  • Vinyl double-hung
  • Fiberglass double-hung
  • Wood Casement
  • Vinyl Casement


How To Replace Your Old Windows: The Process

We know that window replacement can seem a bit daunting, which is why it's always recommended that you hire a professional window installer for the job. However, if you're an avid DIYer, you can undoubtedly get the job done on your own. 

You'll want to begin with measuring your window areas for the replacements. That is the most vital part of the window replacement process and should happen long before installation day commences. Measuring the dimensions of the existing window frame ensures your replacement windows are the correct size.

You're now ready to find and purchase the perfect window replacements for your home. There are many dealers available who sell a variety of brands, models, and styles. Once you've found the windows of your dreams, purchase them and all accompanying parts and hardware. Now is an excellent purchase, time to ensure you have the appropriate tools to make the replacement go smoothly.

Here's what your window replacement parts should consist of:

  • Blind Stop
  • Parting Bead
  • Meeting Rails
  • Sill
  • Inside Casing
  • Upper Sash
  • Jamb
  • Lower Sash
  • Stop Stool
  • Apron

There are three basic types of replacement windows: sash kits, insert replacement, and full-frame units.

Once you're ready to start the replacement process you'll need to take out the sash of your old windows. Do this by prying of or unscrewing the interior wooden stops to remove the lower sash. Then, drag the beads to release the upper sash. Now, pivot one side of the sash upward to remove it from the jamb liners.

It's now time to remove the jamb liners. This step is fairly easy as the liners fall away without much resistance. Make sure you leave the interior and exterior casing intact.

Prep the frame by scraping off all loose and peeling paint and patch any holes or cracks with exterior-grade wood putty or caulk. You can then sand the jambs until they are smooth so they can be primed and painted.

The next step is to remove all sash weights and prep the area for insulation by spraying on some polyurethane foam to fill in any cracks.

You're getting closer to installing the replacement windows. But first, you need to apply caulk to the exposed inner face of the exterior casing and along the windowsill.

It's now time to install the window. Make sure to fasten it loosely so that the window can freely open and close. Make sure to shim the window as needed.

You've just successfully replaced your windows. Now, if you find that you have any trouble or decide you'd rather have someone else do the job for you, there is no shame in reaching out to a professional window installer. In fact, we highly recommend you go that route to save yourself the headache of improper installation, which can wind up costing you way more money than you intended on spending.

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When to Replace Old Windows & How Long They Should Last

If you've read this far, it's safe to assume that you're seriously considering when to replace your home's old windows. However, one burning question remains: How long do windows last? We can understand why you might be asking this question because you need to know whether your old windows genuinely are in need of replacing, and once you replace them, how long will those be in service?

Generally, the lifespan of windows all depends on their make, manufacturer, and they were installed. A ballpark answer is that windows can last between 20 and 40 years under the right conditions.

Did you know that the oldest known window in the world is over 1000 years old? This window was discovered in England buried in the wall of St. Andrew's Church. The window installers of that time must have really known what they were doing! 

You shouldn't expect your windows to last 1000 years, but if they are of good quality, you'll probably get a few decades of use out of them. 

Here are a few factors that impact the longevity of your windows:

  • Climate & Weather: Extreme heat and cold, high humidity, high winds, and other environmental factors all impact the health of your windows.
  • Installation: If your windows are improperly installed, you can plan on them breaking down prematurely. It's always best to have a trusted, experienced window installer replacing your panes, frames, and glass.
  • Usage: The more you open and close your windows, the more wear and tear there will be on the working parts.

So, you see, the lifespan of replacement windows is different for every homeowner and depends on many factors. The best thing you can do is keep an eye on the warning signs of window breakdown such as air leaks, sticking windows, rotted frames, presence of condensation between double-paned windows, higher than usual energy bills, more outside noise coming into your home than usual.


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Should you replace 40-year-old windows? We get this question a lot, especially with new homeowners. Chances are, your four-decade-old windows will need to be replaced, but if they are working correctly and not causing any issues you may only need to apply restorations and modern enhancements to get them up to snuff.

My Old Windows Need Replacing. Does That Mean the Frame Has to Go Too?

When faced with replacing your old windows, you'll be presented with many different choices. One of the big questions is whether you can replace windows without replacing the frame. In some cases, this is a possibility. 

One way to avoid replacing your window frames is by using insert windows. These types of windows are installed within the existing frame. The only parts that are replaced are the old sash, hardware, and covers. 

The benefit of using insert window replacement is that the installation is far less labor-intensive and usually more cost-efficient. Plus, it preserves the existing interior and exterior trim. Keep in mind that inserts are only an option if you have structurally sound wood or aluminum frames.

When window frames need to be replaced due to wood rot, lead paint, and other damages, you can opt for a full-frame window replacement model. Everything is removed down to the studs making way for the new window to be installed.

You can gain knowledge as to whether your frame is able to be preserved or not by hiring a professional window installer to inspect the area.

The Cost of Replacing Old Windows

replacement windows in Plano

It's best not to allow your window replacement project budget to go over the edge. Know how much you are able to spend BEFORE you go shopping for your new windows. That practice will keep you from breaking the bank.

Most licensed and experienced window installers and dealers will help you choose replacement windows that are befitting of your budget. It's always wise to shop around so you can compare prices. Remember, you have to figure in the cost of windows and labor.

According to Remodeling Expenses

"The average labor cost to replace a vinyl double-hung window is $250 – $450 per window installation. Expect the cost of wood replacement windows to be in the range of $400 to $700."

Related Questions

Is it truly worth replacing old windows?

Only you and your contractor can really know that answer for sure. You have to take into consideration how much money your existing windows are costing you. Do your old windows increase energy cost? Are your old windows a safety hazard? Sometimes, replacement cost is far cheaper than continuing to live in a home with drafty, outdated windows.

How much does it cost to replace windows in an old house?

Windows in old homes come with a lot of risks, especially if those windows are 30+ years old. The average cost of replacing vintage windows is typically around $800 to $3,000 per window, which in some cases is double or event ripple to standard rates. Keep in mind that vintage window replacement requires other repairs like rotting wood, custom sizing, and many other upgrades that are conducive to modern safety standards.

What time of year is best to replace old windows?

You want the weather to be warm but not hot when replacing windows. So, the best time of year would be mid-spring or early fall. You may find that early summer is a great time, weather-wise, to replace your home's windows, depending on what part of the world you're in. Replacing windows during extreme cold or hot temperatures leaves your home open to the elements and is never a good idea.

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Plano Home Window Replacement is your one-stop shop for all things windows. Our team of professional window technicians is able to make expert recommendations for you based on their many years of experience. If you are unsure of whether your windows need replacing or renovating, our specialists have the answers that you seek. We're a company that offers fair and affordable pricing as well as in-house financing options. We make sure money doesn't have to be the determining factor of whether you get a much-needed window replacement or not. Call our team of window gurus today for a FREE estimate.

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