Window Repair vs Window Replacement: How to Decide
Windows are one of the most critical points of your home. They serve both exterior and interior purposes, unlike most features of a home which are strictly one or the other. Poor window quality can lead to a number of problems many of which affect the interior of your home.
It can make your home less energy efficient, produce uncomfortable drafts, represent a security risk, and lead to other structural problems like water damage if left unchecked.
If you realize your windows are dated and you need a solution – you may have considered the pros and cons of repairing the current windows as opposed to completely replacing them. While window replacements are expensive, sometimes they are still your best option. However, in certain cases, you may not need to spend quite as much money and settle for repairs.
In this guide, we will examine window repair vs window replacement. We provide the reasoning to determine which one is more appropriate for your needs.
Most Feasible Option for Windows and Cost
The old mentality when it came to homes was to repair everything. It is hard to believe but there was a time period where servicemen made a living repairing old TVs. Now, homeowners don’t think twice about traveling down to the local electronics store and buying a new one the moment the old one starts to break down.
The same could be said about home repairs. There are people who prefer replacements to repairs in the 21st century, some of which are practical and others are due to outside factors like convenience and less hassle.
Window repair vs window replacement is a topic that’s tightly contested among homeowners. Since new windows are more costly, some wonder if they can bypass the high costs by making repairs instead.
In the past when windows become leaky, cold, foggy, or not serving their full purpose homeowners would make basic home repairs to try and provide a temporary solution. However, if the glass was broken or the frame deteriorated then a replacement was mandatory.
In the last several decades wood frames and windows have slowly been replaced by vinyl or fiberglass. Vinyl windows offer a more affordable solution and little maintenance after installation. Trashing old wood windows and replacing them has met some resistance from self-sustainability groups that are looking to find ways to reduce waste in relation to home improvement projects.
While this is a good notion in theory, it doesn’t always mean that you should avoid replacing windows that truly need it just because of the fear of creating more waste. Some windows, especially old wood ones, can be beyond repair and there’s little you can do but replace the entire unit.
Signs of Window Replacement
There are circumstances where something is literally “beyond repair” which applies to anything, including home windows. If any of the following has become a substantial problem to a window, or windows, it’s time to consider window replacements. Repairs will do very little.
- Water Leakage: Interior walls that demonstrate water damage by a window, but not through the window is a revelation that the moisture penetrates through damaged windows. Other exterior home components like gutters and drain pipes may force water toward particular windows. However, good window seals will resist this moisture and prevent it from exposing the interior.
- Foggy Windows: When you notice visible fog condensate inside the window then it’s time to consider a replacement. It is especially true if the window is a double pane or triple pane style. These windows should not fog easily so something is up. New windows feature a glaze that features an IGU seal. The seal is permanent and helps prevent condensation and water damage. It can be a major upgrade, especially in climates that receive a lot of damp weather and precipitation.
- Cracked or Broken Glass: One of the more obvious signs are broken glass. You might be surprised by the number of homeowners that believe there’s a magic fix out there or way to bypass a window replacement. Cracked or broken glass is a major safety hazard. Single pane windows can sometimes get repaired for a relatively low cost. However, multi-paned glass windows are an entirely different story. In that case, you’re best off replacing them.
Signs of Window Repair
There are instances where you may not need a full replacement, which will save you money. The key with window repairs is to make sure it’s a relatively long term solution.
The problem with many homeowners is they keep delaying the inevitable. They invest way too much time and money into something repeatedly when the best option is to just replace the window altogether.
These common issues can get replaced with a quality repairman for lower costs:
- Sashes with Poor Operation: Old windows can become inoperable in a number of ways. Whenever you notice that the windows aren’t opening or shutting smoothly, it’s a red flag that replacements could become a necessity. Inoperable sashes usually get off the tracking, or one of the sashes will not move freely. This is a fixable problem that may not need a full replacement.
- Rotting or Missing Drip Cap: The drip cap is a shield on the exterior of the window near the top of the frame. The drip cap is designed to keep out moisture and it does breakdown over time. Some drip caps rot or fall off altogether over years of use. Rust-free, aluminum caps are available at any hardware store and unlike most window repairs is an easy DIY project.
- Cracking & Rotting Casing: Sometimes homeowners confuse the window frame with the casing. Unlike the frame, the casing doesn’t always involve an entire window replacement. Instead, it’s possible to hire someone to replace loose, rotted, or cracked casing without replacing the entire window. Repairs will be a little more yet cheaper than a full-blown replacement.
Pros of Window Replacement
- A better long term investment.
- Prevents further structural damage like water leaks.
- Reduces outside noise and prevents drafty air.
- Reduces energy bills and makes your home more energy efficient.
- Completely upgrades your home, inside and out, and improves curb appeal.
Pros of Window Repair
- A less expensive way to improve window performance.
- Can sometimes fix the only major issue with the window.
- Can provide short term relief if you need to save a budget for actual replacements.
The Decision on Window Replacement and Repair
There are pros and cons to both window replacement and repair. In some instances, you really don’t have a choice. It is either A or B. You can have a window professional come out to assess your individual situation if you still have questions.