Guest Post By: Courtni Wisenbaker-Scheel
Keeping your home’s windows painted and in good repair is a basic necessity, and it can be especially challenging with older homes—even though these are exactly the ones that need the attention the most. However, replacing windows is not a small undertaking. Since it can be such a pricey affair, most homeowners will try to extend their life for as long as possible. But between their lack of energy efficiency and their typical safety hazards, replacing these windows does eventually become a necessity. So how do you know you have reached that point? Here are five signs to help you know when you’re ready for an upgrade.
With single pane windows, the air transfers through the glass itself, and in larger windows, this can be strong enough to create an actual draft. Though you can install shrinkable plastic sheeting to try and block some of this transfer, there is little else that you can do to stave it off other than replacing your current windows with more energy-efficient windows. On the upside, the US Environmental Protection Agency says that replacing one single-pane window can save you over $500 a year on your energy, depending on where you live.
Do Not Open or Close Properly
The older a window gets, the crankier it seems to become—and the more likely to function incorrectly. From eons of dirt buildup in the window tract to poor paint jobs to broken mechanisms, any one (or combination of all three) can be enough for you to throw up your hands and quit. If you are on the fence about the urgency to replace these windows, make an attempt to lubricate the mechanisms and clean out the track. This may be enough to buy you a bit more time with your current windows—and if not, then you’ve spent very little money and now know exactly what you need to do. If your home was built in the 1960s, be sure to exercise caution whenever there is lead paint. Err on the safe side and get a professional’s help.
Seals Are Failing
If your drafts are not coming from the pane itself, it could be that your weatherstripping seals have cracked, begun to peel off, or have big chunks missing. Since you can get 17 feet of new weatherstripping for as little as $5, it’s well worth the effort to give this simple repair a try. Sometimes it helps immensely, and other times, it hardly makes any noticeable difference—but in the latter case, you’ll know for sure that new windows are necessary.
Outside Noises Are Loud and Clear
In the same way that air can flow through window panes, the same holds true for sound, which can be a real issue depending on where you live. If you are in the heart of a city and long to get a quiet night’s sleep, then you are going to have to invest in soundproof windows because there is no shortterm fix for this issue other than earplugs.
Condensation Between Panes
If your windows are double-pane and gas-filled, and have developed condensation in the center of the glass, then you probably have a gas leak somewhere. The window is no longer insulated since the gas is gone and you will experience the same issues as single-pane windows. Once this leak has occurred, the panes begin to bend in towards each other, occasionally to the point of touching. Unfortunately, there is no way to reintroduce the gas between the two panes, so the window will have to be replaced. On the bright side, most of these windows come with a warranty, so check into whether your window is still covered before fronting the cost of a new installation.
At the end of the day, only you know whether your budget can handle the thousands of dollars required to replace your home’s windows. If you aren’t there yet, try these simple repairs to earn yourself a little more time to save. Then, when you are ready to take the plunge, do your research and find the best product for your needs. In the end, you’ll be thrilled with how just how cozy your new windows make your home.
The following is a true story, adapted from a 1921 edition of the American Journal of Ophthalmology...