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Replace or Repair?

It's one of the most common homeowner questions.

SHOULD YOU FIX UP THOSE OLD, SINGLE-PANE WINDOWS in your home—adding storm windows, for example, and caulking and sealing around the old unit—or buy completly new windows? Consider the following:

  • Climate: If you live in an area with very cold winters or hot summers, new windows will pay for themselves in energy savings more quickly than termperate climes.
  • Condition: Are your old windows structurally sound? If they’re rotted like the one shown, repair may not be an option.
  • Value: Another key aspect to consider is how your current window “look” impacts the value of your home. Will replacing them help or hinder a future resale?
  • Cost vs. Labor: Are you prepared to switch out storm windows with the seasons? What about maintenance?
  • Old windows will need ongoing, occasional TLC. Be sure to think about your lifestyle—not just your wallet.

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New Emphasis on Window Installation

To keep pace with increasingly advanced glazings, window and door makers have fine-tuned the science of installation. That’s a good thing, because you can put the best-made, highest-rated window in a new home and still feel a cold draft next to the frame. But if that happens, chances are it’s your fault—not the window maker’s. You didn’t follow the precise instructions they provide, free of charge.

It used to be that window installation tips were often simplistic—or considered the builder’s responsibility. But companies such as Milgard and Marvin have poured a lot of research, experience and money into educating end users about their products.

The Internet, of course, has made that process much easier. But the building science of installation has improved alongside new flashing systems, expanding foam sealants, and clad and composite window frames.

Take a look at the websites below (and the sample instructions we’ve pulled directly from their pages), and you’re likely to learn some best practices that will save you labor, keep you from having to reinstall a window, and even improve energy efficiency. They also include tips that will help increase the product’s durability.

Milgard
Sample Instruction: “In removing existing materials [for retrofit installation] it is important not to disturb the existing weather barrier, as it will still be used.” http://pro.milgard.com

Marvin (Integrity Line)
Sample Instruction: “If a flexible adhesive membrane is not used to pan the sill, be sure to properly seal the bottom corners of the rough opening.” www.integritywindows.com