When to Repair & When to Replace Your Windows

Windows contribute a lot to a home. Their ability to offer a seal against the elements and add security to your home is the most obvious benefit. But they also offer aesthetic value and functionality, whether as a bay window, a skylight, or even a standard casement window.

They can increase your home’s value while improving your day-to-day life. They also tend to be low maintenance, being built to withstand the pressures of constant opening and closing in a variety of weather conditions.

But what happens when your windows start to develop problems? Does a sticking window need to be replaced? How about a cracked glass pane? Is it time to have a new one installed?

Keep reading for all you need to know about repairing and replacing your windows.

Common Window Problems

There are a few different factors that can cause your windows to have problems. Where these factors come from will help you determine whether the problem can be repaired or if a replacement is needed.

Sticking Windows

One of the more common problems that people notice with their windows is that they can become difficult to open and close. If you struggle with this, start by determining what’s causing the problem.

Inspect and clean the frame and tracks. Grime and debris like leaves or branches can get in window frames, making it difficult for windows to open. Look for signs of paint, too. If it appears that the frame had been painted, this could cause interference. Scrape away the paint and sand it to a smooth finish.

If the window still sticks, a lubricant may be all that’s needed. Candle wax works well on wooden frames, and silicone-based lubricants are great for vinyl windows. Apply the product, then open and close the window a few times to make sure it has spread evenly.

If the hardware is showing signs of wear, you can repair it, provided the manufacturer still supplies the needed parts. However, if you can’t find replacement parts, it may be time to consider replacing your windows.

If moisture is getting into the sashes, the wood can swell and push against the window frame. This requires the window to be removed and the surrounding wood to be repaired, along with the source of the moisture.

Drafty Windows

A window that doesn’t close properly can create drafts, allowing cold air into your home. Clean the frame and check to see that the window closes fully. The circumstances that can cause a window to stick are often the same as those that can keep a window from fully closing.

Use a lit candle to locate exactly where the draft is coming from. Gently move it around the window frame and look for it to flicker. Once you’ve located the source of the leak, mark it. Vinyl or silicone weatherstripping will help make sure that the window is sealed air-tight, is easy to install, and should last years.

Signs of Damage

If your windows are showing signs of disrepair, assess how bad the damage is. Vinyl windows should last 20-25 years and are very durable. If the problem is with the hardware, look for replacement parts. Vinyl window repair kits are available that make it easy to do the work yourself.

Wooden frames are more susceptible to rot and warpage. If your wooden frames are several years old, it may be better to replace them rather than attempting to fix them for another year or two. This is especially true if the damage is moisture related. Any signs of warping or swelling will require a replacement.

Older windows may consist of just a single glass pane, which offers poor energy efficiency. Modern windows are double or even triple-pane windows. If you notice that the area around your windows stays cold in the winter and hot in the summer, it may be time to have them replaced.

Weatherstripping and thermal films can help improve the efficiency of old windows but can make it difficult or impossible to open the window. Don’t bother with these solutions. A modern window will make a big difference in your energy usage while being much easier to use.

The Glass is Broken

A difficult situation to judge is when one of the glass panes breaks. There are ways to repair the glass without replacing the whole window, but the cost may not make it worthwhile.

The first thing to consider is what caused the break. If it cracked from normal usage, reach out to the manufacturer. If there’s warranty coverage, they’ll make the repairs for you at no cost.

If, however, the problem stems from carelessness or an accident, it’s on you to address. Contact a few repair specialists for a quote and compare that with the cost of replacing the window altogether. The cost of repair can vary greatly depending on the window’s size and location, so only a professional can give you a proper assessment of the repair cost.

Windows are designed to withstand all types of weather conditions. They should perform well and look good for years. However, if you’re noticing that your windows are giving you difficulty, it may be time to look into repairing or replacing them. Knowing what to look for will let you make the best decision for your house.