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Is it time to replace my windows?

How to tell when your home needs new windows, from Heritage Home Hardware
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What kind of state are your windows in? Are you concerned it might be time to replace them or are you looking for some tips on how to do this yourself?

We spoke with Richard at Heritage Home Hardware about how you can tell if you need new windows, the benefits of new windows and how to install new windows and doors yourself.

Windows play a critical role in maintaining the comfort and efficiency of your home; they also have great aesthetic appeal and impact. If yours are looking run down or if you’re feeling any drafts inside the home, it’s likely time to upgrade them. Here are some of the telltale signs.

Discolouration

Visible damage isn’t just an eyesore, it’s a clue that there are issues.

Certain things you can fix easily, such as chipped paint, holes and cracks, but if you spy any discolouration caused by sun or water damage, this is a clear indication that your windows need to be replaced. Structural issues can compromise their efficiency and functionality.

Functionality/Mechanical issues

Aged wooden and aluminum-frame windows are prone to warping, shrinkage and corrosion, which can make them hard to open and close.

It should be easy to open and close your windows. (When they’re open, they should stay that way.) If you ever struggle to open or close your windows, this is an important sign—more than just a source of frustration, it’s also a fire safety concern. If it’s difficult to operate your windows, it could be a sign that some of the components within the window frame are broken or warped.

Caulking

Caulking is an important element in maintaining the integrity of your windows. Windows that have been improperly caulked can leave chips and gaps, allowing moisture to seep inside your home, resulting in damage and drafts.

Check that your windows have even and continuous caulking, as this will help you avoid leaks and drafts. When windows are properly caulked, you have both a beautifully finished look and, most importantly, a tight seal that keeps your home comfortable and energy-efficient.

Heat loss

Heat loss, as all homeowners know, is to be avoided. It’s costly, so addressing it quickly means you can reduce your energy bills sooner.

There are 3 main causes of heat loss in windows:

  1. Poor insulation. If there is inadequate insulation around your windows, heat can escape. The result is decreased comfort inside the home and higher energy bills.
  2. Single-pane windows. This type of window lacks the insulation properties found in double- or triple- pane versions; they are much less energy efficient.
  3. Plate glass windows. Windows made of plate glass have poor insulation capabilities. They let heat transfer easily, resulting in increased energy consumption.

Richard recommends upgrading to Energy Star Certified windows, which are designed to be 2-4 times more efficient than standard windows.

Other warning signs

You’ll also want to check for broken seams, cracks, whistling sounds, condensation or fog between the glass. If any of these issues are present, it indicates window damage and compromised insulation, and can help you determine whether or not replacing your windows is necessary.

Advice for replacing your windows, starting with “What NOT to do”

Once you’re ready to move to newer, more energy-efficient windows, there are a couple of important “don’ts” to keep in mind. You’ll have a much better chance at successful window replacement by avoiding these common mistakes:

1. Don’t base your decision on the price alone

Replacing your windows is definitely an investment and you want it to last. It can be tempting to choose the lowest price option, but doing so often means you’re also compromising on quality.

That said, you don’t have to go with the most expensive choice; there’s no guarantee it offers superior performance. Consider a variety of factors when making your selection, taking into account aesthetics, quality, functionality and energy-efficiency.

2. Insist on proper installation

Unless you have experience (and expertise) in window installation, this is a task best left to the professionals. Windows that have been installed improperly can result in product failure, damages and voided warranties.

Qualified installers offer more than just proper installation; they also provide valuable information about the operation and maintenance of your new windows.

Benefits to installing new windows

The older your existing windows, the more likely it is new ones will have a significant impact.

New windows can:

  • reduce your energy bills
  • improve your home’s appearance
  • deliver immediate benefits
  • provide a long-term return on your investment if you ever decide to sell
  • extend the lifespan of your heating and cooling appliances
  • reduce the need for window maintenance
  • protect your furnishings

Short-term repairs or window glass replacement can definitely buy you some time in a pinch, but for years of worry-free performance replacing your windows is a better bet.

Energy-efficient windows

A recent game changer in the market is something called low-e glass. Low-emissivity windows have been glazed with a microscopic reflective coating; this causes infrared heat and ultraviolet rays to bounce off the glass rather than enter your home.

Low-e glass is graded on its window U-Factor: a lower number (1.20) indicates better heat retention than a higher number (1.60). This technology improves the efficiency of your air-conditioning during the summer and the performance of your furnace in the winter. It also helps protect your textiles, artwork and furniture, all of which can be damaged by UV exposure.

There are two types of coatings you’ll want to consider too:

Passive low-e coatings

In northern regions, we want to take advantage of the radiant heat from daytime sunlight; that extra warmth supplements the heat from our furnaces. Windows that have been treated with a passive low-e coating let more solar heat enter the home.

While it’s a less effective insulator, depending on your location and the degree of sun exposure you receive, it can be a very smart choice.

Solar control low-e coatings

For better energy retention, choose solar control low-e coatings. This will maximize your insulation value and help you maintain year-round indoor comfort, as windows treated with this coating allow less heat to pass through.

One of the biggest benefits of having high-efficiency windows is that they help you maintain a consistent temperature throughout the various rooms in your home. To eliminate hot and cold spots for good, choose insulated window frames, coated glass and proper installation. With this trio in place, whenever there is extreme weather, your HVAC system won’t have to work as hard.

Reduce window maintenance

Another great plus is that new, energy-efficient windows require less maintenance, thanks to their superior insulation and treated glass surfaces. You won’t have to worry about condensation, fogging and water spots, as the anti-UV coating prevents mould and stays cleaner on the outside. Having this added protection from the natural elements saves homeowners time and money. You’ll spend less on window cleaning, window coverings and furniture maintenance.

Window frames have come a long way too. The latest ones, made of composite, vinyl and fibreglass, rarely ever require painting or restoring. They have a superior seal that allows fewer pollutants to enter the home, which is immensely beneficial for anyone with allergies or breathing issues.

Enhance home security

Enjoy peace of mind with solid fixed windows and modern slider windows. These products are denser, stronger and have superior locking mechanisms, which means they are better at resisting potential intruders, neighbourhood pets and local wildlife.

In terms of strength, laminated windows include polymer layers that are sandwiched between multiple panes of glass. The result? Great impact resistance. Windows made of tempered glass are even stronger and provide a higher level of security against forced entry—or for parents of active kids, flying pucks and balls!

Better sound insulation

We tend not to think about sound insulation with new energy-efficient windows, but it’s a huge benefit.

This can help many people, including new parents, shift workers, light sleepers and those who work from home, as less noise from nearby construction or street noise is transferred. Multi-pane glass has an added thickness that, even though it’s not completely soundproof, can improve your quality of life.

Increase your home’s value

Replacing your windows will gain you one of the highest returns on investment of any home improvement project. Especially if you will be selling your home, old, inefficient windows may bring down your asking price. Install new ones and enjoy them for several years, knowing you can include them as a selling point in the future. Some experts estimate you can expect to earn back about 70% of your expenditure.

Whether you’re prepping your home for sale and want to maximize your return, or aiming to cut heating and cooling costs, window replacement is a proven winner. Upgrading to the new generation of energy-efficient frames and glass can improve your quality of life and relieve pressure on your household expenses.

Home Hardware offers a curated selection of premium windows and exterior doors. Their diverse range represents a variety of architectural styles, allowing you to have a more beautiful, comfortable and secure home. They are once again installing windows and doors as part of their popular Home Installs program.

For more advice on selecting the right windows for your home, including more about window and door installations, visit Heritage Home Hardware or call 705-759-5101.

*Note: Home Hardware carries many Energy Star products but they are not identified on homehardware.ca. Please contact your local store for more information.