Windows in a home don’t last forever. Typically, your windows have about 20 years of solid functional life. By this time, damage from storms, warping, shrinkage, or breaking will happen and be a factor in whether or not to replace or repair them.
The expert team at homeandgardeningguide.com has researched and assembled the following information to help you determine if it’s time to repair or replace, the windows in your home.
Window Maintenance, Life Expectancy and Weather Damage
As previously mentioned, windows in a home have about 20 years before they begin to fail. Some of the contributing factors, which may lead to early repairs and replacements, are:
Weather – Severe weather conditions, earthquakes, and extreme temperature variations may take their toll on the structure of your windows.
Overlooked Maintenance and Window Damage – For most people, the windows are simply there. It’s easy to overlook them, as we see right through them! This inadvertent negligence may result in or cause you to overlook problems.
Damaged windows, if not repaired, will rapidly decline and need to be replaced.
Repair your windows if:
• The glass is broken or shattered.
• The caulking has weathered and separated leaving gaps.
• The counterweights or spring loaded mechanisms stop working.
• The plastic or rubber weather stripping hardens, cracks, or deteriorates.
Replace your windows if:
• The frame has cracked, warped, or deteriorated.
• They have suffered severe damage in a weather event or natural disaster.
• Window tracks are warped or damaged stopping the window from functioning.
• The metal latches, cranks, and components have rusted or oxidized leaving the window inoperable.
• They become loose or flimsy in the tracks as they age.
• They no longer properly insulate your home from outside temperatures and weather.
Once repaired or replaced, add the inspection of your windows to both cleaning projects and seasonal equipment and appliance inspections.
This will help you to make certain that all moving parts are working properly, free from obstructions and lubricated where necessary. Proper care and maintenance will greatly extend the life and efficiency of your windows.
How a Good Window Rating Can Reduce Your Energy Bill
In the south-central and southern regions, the weather is typically warmer throughout the year with more intense summers. When replacing or upgrading windows in these regions, the SHGC (solar heat gain coefficient) measures how much heat passes through a window.
According to Energy Star, the country is divided into four zones (determined by climate). The zone you are in will determine the appropriate SHGC rating (measured between 0 and 1) for your windows.
Selecting the right solar heat gain can be very cost effective in winter months (free heat), but on the converse it can cause overheating in the summer months. Use the following two steps to determine the correct rating and efficiency for your new windows:
- Use the climate zone finder on the Energy Star website to locate the zone you are in.
- Use the window selection tool from the “Efficient Windows Collaborative” to simulate energy costs/savings based on your location and the windows you are considering installing.
Why ‘U Value’ (Window Insulation) Is Critical if You Live in the Northern US
A window’s U value (or U factor) measures its insulation. The lower the number, the higher the value and more efficient at insulating it is.
In north and north-central regions, a higher U value is more important than the SHGC. These regions are cooler (especially in winter months) and require windows more effective at insulating.
To determine the most appropriate U value for your windows by zone, use this chart.
Will New Windows Pay For Themselves?
YES, if your home currently has inappropriate windows for a region with extremely cold winters or blistering hot summers.
YES, New windows that match the style and architecture of your home and are energy efficient can increase its overall value.
NO, if the windows do not match the style or architecture of your home, they can have detrimental consequences to its curb appeal and resale value.
NO, in older and historic structures where you cannot match the style, repairing the existing windows may be the better option to preserve the home’s value.
NO, in some older methods of construction, windows are often part of the structure’s support system. Replacing these windows may cause expensive or irreversible structural damage. Repairing windows in such homes may be the wiser alternative.
Window Replacement Cost Benefit and Energy Efficiency
Being the important architectural features they are, much consideration must be given before deciding to replace or repair your windows.
Energy Savings – Upgrading to energy efficient windows can potentially be the greatest asset in lowering your energy bills. However, in regions with moderate temperatures, it could take decades to recuperate the costs of replacement.
Replace or Repair – Unless the state of your windows and window frames has been compromised by weather events or severely deteriorated over time, repairing them may be more cost beneficial than full replacement.
Market Value – When placing a home on the market, it is an advertising plus to boast new Energy Star energy efficient windows. As long as the windows fit the home’s architecture, this may work to significantly raise the home’s curb appeal and market value, giving the greatest return on investment.
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