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Windows: 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? The answer, naturally, is  "it depends" on the following variables:

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.

Find a good article on window performance HERE.

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.

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.”

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.”

FLASH Resilient Design Guide

Diminishing Returns You get the biggest returns simply by adding a storm window to an old window that has none. After that, adding other levels of glazing still save money, but the impact is less dramatic.