Windows are the most important feature on a residential property. From the inside, windows provide natural light and protection from UV rays and the elements, all the while keeping your house safe and secure. As such, windows should always get top priority when you set aside money for home repairs.
Many things can go wrong with windows as they age. If the frame comes loose and allows air inside, your home could become vulnerable and costly to heat and cool. If the frames or glass panes incur noticeable damage, your house could be a target for burglars. Therefore, it is important to know when to replace your home windows.
1. High Energy Bills
If your heating and/or air conditioning bills have gotten progressively higher over the past several years — and you know that the difference is not due to inflation — chances are your usage habits have changed. When it is cold outside, homeowners often learn the hard way that their insulation is poor. The most tell-tale sign is when energy bills skyrocket. Often, these problems directly stem from wind drafts, which can cause your bills to balloon.
Throughout the cold months of the year, wind drafts could be a source of great discomfort within your household. Even if you crank up your heat and wear warmer clothes between October and March, you might still notice the lowered temperatures. You might even feel a more aggressive coldness on windy nights when the strong gusts of wind that seem to reverberate inside. If this year’s winter seems colder than winters past, one of the things that you should check is your window frames for evidence of air leaks.
Many consequences stem from undetected wind drafts. If air is allowed to pass through your windows, the insulation within your home could be severely compromised, especially during times of extreme weather. In the winter time, you are likely to pay more on your heating bills if cold air passes in from the outside and drains all the heat generated from your HVAC system and fireplace. Drafts can also prove costly during the summer months, particularly on days that exceed 85°F. During a heat wave, a wind draft could let in heat and leak out the coolness produced by your air conditioner, forcing you to increase usage of your AC for longer periods.
Wind drafts are generally the result of age and can become more apparent as the home settles. As a window assembly endures wear and tear, subtle gaps form between the sills, stiles, jambs, and glass panes. A common place that drafts form is between the panes and stiles. On wood frames, gaps can open as seasons pass, and the changing temperatures cause the grip to loosen between the two parts. Drafts can also occur between the stiles and side jambs, especially if the lower window becomes slightly ajar after years of use. Wind drafts are sometimes caused by cracks in the glass, but that is an obvious problem that tends to get noticed immediately. Gaps can even form in newly built homes as their foundations settle.
Drafts are hard to spot with the naked eye. In most cases, gaps are hair-thin. You could feel around the edges of your windows, but any coldness that you might come across could be indistinguishable from the general coldness that typically surrounds a set of windows on a cold day. However, there are a couple of ways that you can test for drafts with greater certainty. One way is to run a lit candle or lighter up, down, and across the edges of the stiles, jambs and panes. If the flame blows inward at any point, you have found the location of the wind draft. You can also perform this test with a lit stick of incense. If the smoke blows inward, you have found the draft.
When drafts form along the edges of your window panes, it is generally a sign that your windows need to be replaced. You could caulk the edges to prolong their life, but that might not make much difference. When the time does come to replace old home windows, call Homespire Windows and Doors, where we are a full service provider from manufacturing to installation of highly energy-efficient windows that can help you reduce your energy loss by up to 30%.
2. They’re Damaged
The most obvious sign of damage on any window is when cracks or holes appear in one of the glass panes. Whenever this happens, the problem is unmistakable to the naked eye, even if the holes or cracks are small. Cracks can be caused by various impacts, such as hail and thrown objects.
Cracks and holes are major sources of wind drafts and noise. When the weather is windy, cracks and holes are especially hard to ignore. The problem is also obvious when noisy cars or neighbors can be heard outside. If you see cracks in the glass, it is time to replace your home windows. The longer you wait, the more you will have to endure cold temperatures, loud noises, and high energy bills.
Another sign of damage is bent or warped window frames, which are sometimes found in older homes that have experienced many hot and cold seasons. As temperatures pass between seasonal peaks, window frame materials endure a slow but ongoing cycle of expansions and contractions. This effect is often seen in older homes where wooden frames are common. Despite its warmth and snugness, a wooden frameset can gradually lose its integrity if the surfaces are not adequately coated. Bent frames are even more common in metal windows, which can get banged up from constant use.
Another obvious sign of window damage is broken tracks, which homeowners often discover when they try to open a window for the first time in many months, only to find that the window is stuck in place. If a window fails to open or will only move part of the way, the tracks could be misaligned or bent. If the tracks collect dirt over time, the windows could easily get stuck at certain points along the way. If the tracks become bent along any portion of their length, this could render movement almost impossible. The tracks could also be damaged in such a way that the lower sash will not hold on its own weight as you move it to an open position.
Window frames can also incur cosmetic damage that could be related to more serious problems, such as wind drafts and glass cracks. Even if the frame damage is benign, it could still indicate that the windows have reached the end of their usefulness and are due for replacement. If, for example, a set of wood windows has not been varnished in years, the constant cycle of coldness, moisture, heat, and sunlight can cause the surfaces to become rough and faded. Wind drafts will probably form sooner than later. Cosmetic frame damage can also devalue a home on the resale market.
3. Condensation Is Building Up
One of the more annoying problems that often occurs on windows during the colder months is condensation, which may or may not indicate an actual problem. If the fog appears on the outside of your window, you are dealing with a benign type of moisture that will usually disappear once the temperature changes. The more troubling type of condensation is the fog that appears on the inside of the windows. This occurs when indoor humidity releases water onto the glass panes.
In old homes, inside condensation can be especially troubling when it occurs between two panes of glass. When this happens, the fog often results from weak sills. After all, the inner panes should be air-tight and thus shielded from the steam within your home. Chances are, the moisture from outside humidity made its way in through a draft in the sills and fogged the inner panes. This problem would generally indicate that the windows have lost some or all of the insulating gasses between the panes and are overdue for a replacement.
In newer homes, condensation is less likely to result from wind drafts because the inside living quarters are bound to be more tightly insulated. Therefore, any fog that does form will most likely come from an inside source, such as a steamy bathroom or kitchen or having a lot of plants in the home or simply a heat source that produces more humidity. Fog can easily accumulate from the inside when the outside temperature drops below 40°F. This is because cold air is less capable of holding onto its trapped moisture content, which gets released onto cold surfaces. During the winter months, the coldest parts of a home’s interior will usually be the windows, especially the glass panes.
If a home is brand new, the problem could be compounded by the presence of moisture within the structure. New homes, in general, will retain moisture within the paint, concrete, and other construction materials, sometimes for as long as 12 to 18 months. During a home’s first or second winter, the moisture emanating from the building materials could make their way to the window panes. This problem might subside as the home ages and is therefore not a major cause for concern, considering that the windows are new and secure.
Certain common activities can increase the likelihood of window condensation. Gas and propane both release moisture as they burn. Consequently, a propane heater could be a source of condensation in your home. Foggy indoor windows can also result from an active fireplace, especially if you burn logs for hours on end. Other common causes of interior fog include steamy baths and boiling pots of water or just simply having a lot of plants in your home. When you open your bathroom door after a shower, the fog is likely to appear on nearby windows almost immediately.
4. You Want to Add Extra Security or Soundproofing
If any of the windows in your home are broken or damaged, your house could be exposed to danger. If you procrastinate on replacing a broken window during the summer because you don’t mind the breeze and the winter months are long in the distance, this could be seen as an invitation by a passing prowler. Even if the damage is minor and not readily apparent from the street, you are still leaving your house vulnerable to potential break-ins.
In addition to bringing increased safety for you and your loved ones, new windows also provide enhanced security for your belongings. On residential properties, windows are one of the most targeted points of entry for burglars. If someone prowling your neighborhood learns that you have a big-screen TV and wall speakers, a loose set of windows might be all that person needs to climb inside and make off with your belongings. If, however, the window appears impossible to pry, there is little chance that the burglar is going to stick around.
New windows could also be an essential purchase in times of urgency, such as after a major storm or natural disaster. If a major thunderstorm or blizzard recently whipped through your area, your home may have incurred significant damage, including the windows. As you go about assessing the damage, one of your top priorities should be to replace any windows that are broken. The problem should be handled immediately, because damage caused by storms tends to be extensive and large, thus rendering your home more vulnerable.
New windows also offer better soundproofing, which allows you to enjoy peace of mind during the evening hours when you are at home. If loud automobiles pass by your house, you are much less likely to hear the noise. The same is true with barking dogs. With improved sound insulation, you can sleep quietly and enjoy days without any interruptions.
The investments you make into new windows could ultimately boost the value of your home if you ever decide to move. Whether you remain at the property for two years or twenty, the windows you have installed could still look brand new for a lifetime.
Replace Your Home Windows at Homespire
As one of the most important features on your house, windows should always be in optimal condition. When you consider the role of windows in the safety and comfort of your living quarters, you simply cannot afford to neglect them when they get worn, loose, or damaged. If left to deteriorate, an old set of windows could cost you untold sums of money that you could spend on other things.
At Homespire Windows and Doors, our windows are made of layered glass and spacer technology for maximum energy efficiency, safety and sound dampening capabilities. If the time has come to replace your home windows, contact Homespire today and speak with one of our representatives.