When is it time to replace or install different windows? New England is comprised of older homes, and unfortunately newer ones with windows that barely provide a decade of service. The obvious times are when a window won’t open and close, is rotted or with modern double pane windows; the seal is broken.
Windows are a great way to add life and drama to a space with more natural light and help us see more of what we want. For the majority of the windows a simple replacement will be the best solution. A simple replacement involves removing internal window components and installing new components in the existing window jamb without touching interior or exterior trim. In some cases, usually with newer homes, a simple replacement is not possible because the existing window is incapable of receiving new components because of manufacturing or premature deterioration. In that case, the entire window will need to be removed and there will be trim work and siding on the outside and new trim installed inside.
Let’s start with what we want a modern-day window to do:
- Bring in natural light and provide a view outside.
- Enhance the style and design of our home.
- Open and close easily so we can enjoy the fresh air when we can (or rid our home of the burned dinner smell)
- Provide or improve energy efficiency in our home.
- Reduce the harmful UV rays that can fade our fine fabrics or art.
What we believe are important things to consider when looking at windows:
1. Quality should be the first consideration. Most of the windows we used to replace were over 50 years old. I know that many of us don’t see ourselves in our home that long, but we have been replacing windows in very expensive homes that are not even ten years old, and they probably stopped providing the occupants with what a window should do after a few short years.
2. The service, warranty and reputation of the manufacturer. (Without a reputation, forget the warranty). Even good window manufacturers can have production issues, or the windows may have been in good service and require adjustment or parts. Find out what the manufacturer warranty time is and what it covers (in-home free service etc.). Ask if the company provides their own field service technicians and if there is a fee, and find out how long the company has been in business and how they have resolve issues.
3. Efficiency is third on my list, not because it is less important- but because there are poorly manufactured windows that may have a very good insulation rating that will be mute when the window fails. In our area, a permit is required for replacement windows and all windows will have to meet Energy Star requirements. If you are looking for the insulation value (referred to as the U-factor), the lower the number the better. Most companies offer a U .29 but you can get lower with additional glazing solutions.
4. Value will be determined by the customer and the conditions. Sometimes we would recommend a more expensive window for homes that require complete window removal because we know we can order very custom sizes that will reduce the amount of construction required. It is also important to understand what the client wants. The best way to understand your needs are met is to get information on a few different companies. Do you want architectural millwork on the inside and out, or do you even notice the window beyond the treatment?
Window replacement has become a a popular first remodel project in many homes; mainly because it is an easy project to understand and some folks think they should do the logical improvements before the fun stuff. In the recent past in Massachusetts there have been some very hefty tax incentives which also brought this type of project to the forefront of home improvements. I would recommend going back to the beginning of the story and looking at what we want our windows to do. If your windows are not giving you what you want, replace them.
We install many replacement and new construction windows as part of our services. When we are working on one project we are often asked if it makes sense to think about the replacements. With simple replacements, there is typically no economies gained by including this in the project, however; if a room is being worked on and or there is other exterior work to be done and you want to add windows, enlarge windows or have to replace windows that cannot receive a simple replacement, then we recommend having that work done with the project.