How to Decide Between Repairing and Replacing Your Windows

When your windows are old, damaged or in need of a serious upgrade, you may be contemplating whether a repair or replacement is in order. A repair may be an easy fix if your windows have defects such as a chipped frame, cracked glass or drafty leaks. For windows that are old, have condensation between the panes or no longer function properly, a replacement may be the most suitable option.

Windows are integral to a home, and their proper function makes a significant impact on energy costs, soundproofing and the overall comfort of your home. The decision to either repair or replace your windows is a challenging one, particularly when you consider costs and potential savings. One mistake that homeowners make is the belief that replacing windows is the only way to reduce energy bills. However, there are many ways to make your existing windows more energy efficient which doesn’t require replacement. To figure out whether a repair or replacement is needed, our repair or replace guide below should point you in the right direction.

When to repair

Rotting wood

Wooden window frames, sashes and dividers can rot over time and allow water and air into your home. Usually wood surrounding the windows can deteriorate when it’s primed or painted incorrectly, if it’s exposed to humid or wet weather regularly, or if it’s in the direct line of a garden sprinkler or water system. Depending on how badly it’s rotted, a repair is all you’ll need to bring your windows back to good shape. Rotten window frames requires removing the window and rebuilding, which often ends up costing as much as a window replacement.

Drafty windows

If you find that your windows let in a continuous cold draft, it may have crossed your mind to replace the window. While air leaks and drafts are one of the biggest enemies when it comes to energy efficiency, a repair job is usually enough to fix this problem. Even if you were to replace all windows with energy-efficient windows, you’d only see an energy saving of 7-15% as a result of the upgrade. But, if you repair any gaps in the sashes, frames or dividers using painter’s caulk or stripping, you can save up to 20% energy lost through the windows.

Cracked glass

If the panes of your windows are cracked or broken, there’s potentially no need for replacement. Single-pane windows can be effectively repaired yourself with the proper equipment and some guidance, or by a glazier. It is also important to note that if you have a multi-paned window that has cracked, you may have to separately investigate a sash replacement. Otherwise, if only one pane has cracked it is not necessary to replace the entire window if the rest of the panes are still intact.

When to replace

Poor soundproofing

It can be an unpleasant experience if your windows let a lot of outside noise in, particularly if you are in a busy area such as on a high traffic road or in the inner-city. In this instance, replacing windows with double or triple glazing can reduce the passage of sound. For further noise reduction, there’s also the option of installing glass sealed units with enhanced acoustic options.

Missing, broken or faulty hardware

While there’s no need to replace the entire window in most circumstances, replacing the affected part is the cheapest and most effective option. Whether the window crank isn’t cranking anymore, or the lock is faulty, you can easily replace the part and install it yourself or have a professional come in and do it for you.

Foggy windows or condensation between panes

Foggy looking windows usually indicates that water is condensing between your double-pane or triple-pane windows. In this instance, it is impossible to repair yourself. Instead, a professional must be called to remove and replace the entire window unit, including the frame. If you detect water leakage near the window area, be sure to check that it’s coming from around the window and not through it. In this case, the usual culprit is poor guttering and drainpipes or that your window casing has gone bad. If you see that water is coming through the window, it may indicate the seal has deteriorated meaning that the sealed unit will have to be replaced by a professional.

Poor UV and heat control

If you notice that your windows let in too much heat or sunlight, you may need to have them replaced with double-glazed windows. Energy efficient double glazed windows will improve the panels resistance to heat flow and sun glare, as well as prevent harmful UV rays from entering your home. If your home is older then it’s possible that you only have single pane windows. These windows are common among older houses, and often it can be helpful to replace them with double glazed windows since the single pane panels make insulating your home very difficult. In the summer months the interior can become very hot while in winter the opposite is true. Replacing single pane windows is a good investment if you are living in a hotter or colder climate, where proper insulation is imperative to your everyday comfort.

This guide should help you to determine whether to repair or replace your windows, particularly if you face any of the above issues. Replacing your windows with entirely new ones may seem tempting, but you will find that in most cases it isn’t necessary, and a simple repair will be just as efficient and far more cost-effective. A replacement will be necessary in situations where you find the window impacting everyday comfort or if your windows require continual maintenance that results in more money spent in the long-term.