As far as home maintenance is concerned, windows can be easy to overlook–almost as if they don’t even exist. A lot of glass and natural light is awesome, but it comes at a cost. As windows age, they can distort ever slow slightly. You might not even notice until the first cold blasts of winter air are blowing into your home.
How can you tell if it’s time for new windows?
On the hassle scale, replacing windows is up there with a new roof or trying to retile the busiest room in your home. Unfortunately, these are all jobs that you’ll eventually need to tackle, but sometimes you can make small repairs that won’t turn your home into a construction zone.
Starting at a few hundred dollars each, a house full of windows can be a huge investment that you’re unlikely to get back. Before you go window hunting, ask yourself these questions to see if buying new windows is the right move after all:
- Are your energy bills climbing? A significant rise in your utility bills over the last year, or even five years, means you’re leaking somewhere. Windows are often the culprit. If you can, borrow an infrared camera so you can track exactly where the energy loss is coming from.
- Are they tricky to open or won’t stay open without a prop? Really old windows may have a problem staying open because their corded weights have broken after decades of use. Newer windows might refuse to close because they’ve shifted ever so slightly. Either way, these are windows that are a huge pain to operate and that reason alone can justify installing replacements.
- Can you hear your neighbors when you’re indoors? Good quality windows will help reduce the volume (though none can block noise entirely). If you can hear your neighbor’s car like it’s in your own driveway, you definitely need to consider a window replacement.
- Do you wake up to condensation between the window glass panes? A tiny amount of condensation isn’t really anything to worry about, but when it’s widespread or happens every day and hangs around for most of it, your window pane seal has probably been compromised. A window with a busted seal is one that’s costing you serious cash. Sometimes you can order a replacement pane, but they can be difficult to install and costly, which is why many people choose new windows at this stage.
What to do if your windows don’t need to be replaced.
If your windows are in great shape and the only problem you’re having is heat loss, you can do a few different things to maximize efficiency when the cold wind blows.
Good old-fashioned winterizing: Go around the house and seal up all the nooks and crannies you might find. A new bead of caulk around each window and door and along all the trim will help reduce drafts.
Sticking up window insulation film. For a temporary fix, you can install window insulation film on the cold windows in question.
Installing heavy curtains. Thick insulating curtains can help reduce both heat loss and drafts. The only catch is that you have to keep them closed.
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