5 Questions to Ask Before Replacing Your Windows

October 4, 2013

When your windows get old and drafty, it’s time to replace them, right? Not necessarily. Many times it’s preferable to repair your old windows, particularly if you live in a historic home.

Now you might be asking yourself, “Why is a company that replaces windows telling me that I can repair them instead?” Well, as it turns out, not all windows can be repaired. In fact, some must be replaced. (That sound you hear? That’s a nation of window replacement companies exhaling.)

So how do you know which road to travel down: repair or replace? Simple! Just ask yourself these five questions and the right path will look a whole lot clearer.

replacement windows

The type of window frames you have can help determine whether a repair is feasible.

1. What frame materials do my current windows have?

If you have vinyl or aluminum windows, you’ll likely have to replace them. Metal is notoriously difficult to repair, and it’s essentially ruined once it corrodes (which is one of the more common causes of aluminum window damage). Vinyl can fade and crack during exposure to extreme temperatures and temperature changes; if this happens, it’s nearly impossible to repair the warped windows.

If you have wood windows, repairs might be more feasible. Many older windows have wooden frames, since vinyl and aluminum are newer innovations in the world of windows. Older windows are designed in a manner that makes them easier to repair, since they were supposed to last for decades on end.

Fiberglass and Fibrex windows can theoretically be repaired more easily than aluminum, but they’re often designed in a manner that makes them more difficult to repair than replace. Closely assess your window frames before making a decision.


Be warned: Even if your home is lacking energy efficiency, your current windows might not be the culprit. (Image courtesy: 401k Calculator/flickr)

2. Will replacing my windows really save me substantial money on my energy bills?

Replacement windows can save you big money on your energy bills. But even if your home is leaking energy now, your current windows might not be the culprit. Issues such as inefficient lighting and attics that are poorly insulated can cause a higher degree of energy loss than old windows can.

Of course, the benefits of adding energy efficient replacement windows tend to vary from home to home, particularly if these other energy-draining factors are in play. Get an energy audit of your home before deciding whether to repair or replace old windows. This audit will let you know what parts of your home are bleeding energy.

replacement windows

If it’s difficult to find windows that match your home’s style, it might be more feasible to repair the windows you have.

3. How important is it to preserve my home’s style?

While the goal of any home remodeling project is to make improvements that don’t stick out like a sore thumb, it can be difficult to find replacement windows that adequately match the styles of certain homes (particularly the historic ones). Homes tend to be designed differently these days than they were a century ago (what a concept!), and replacement windows are predominantly designed to match the styles of more modern design.

Preservation is an important factor for owners of historic homes. Not only do well-preserved homes look more historically accurate, but they also hold a higher resale value. Due to these considerations, owners of historic homes are more likely to repair existing windows than they are to replace them. The big question is whether it’s important to do the same with your home.

Double pane window

Installing replacement windows can eliminate the need for storm windows

4. How do you want to insulate your windows?

Many older windows tend to have only one pane of glass in the sash. This means that storm windows must often be installed in the winter months to help insulate the home. These older windows also allow a lot of solar energy through the sash; this energy can cook homes on hot summer days.

Replacement double-pane windows often use Low-E glass and gas fills to block thermal energy loss and solar energy gain. These windows can lead to lower energy bills. Plus, you won’t have to install and remove those pesky storm windows.

All that said, the cost of replacement windows could negate the amount you save on energy bills. Clearly define your priorities before deciding which way to turn. Are you looking to save money or time and effort?

upper level windows

It can be dangerous cleaning the outside of old windows up here.

5. How important is ease of access?

Even when they’re repaired extensively, older windows must be cleaned frequently to prevent damage and decay. But replacement windows tend to have mechanisms that make them easier to clean than older models. Some of these mechanisms allow windows to tilt or fold downward so that they can be cleaned within the safety of your own home.

If you feel unsafe cleaning old windows from the outside, you might want to invest in replacement windows. Your safety is more important than the money you’d save by repairing the windows.

Ultimately, it’s best to look at all these factors and make an individual assessment whether or not to replace your windows. Although this process can be tedious, it will give more closure to your final decision, whichever direction you turn.

Looking for replacement windows? Best Investments Siding and Windows has been installing replacement windows in homes across the Houston area since 1977. Let us work with you! Request a free consultation today!