While you may be familiar with the obvious signs that your windows need replacing such as broken panes or rotting sash, what if the problems are more subtle? How will you know when it’s time to consider a change?
Here are a few clues professional contractors look for that indicate your current windows may be nearing the end of their life expectancy:
- Poor performance—general operation like opening and closing is difficult, double-hung windows won’t stay in place when opened (you need to prop them open), you can feel drafts or air leaks around the window frame, cracked or damaged seals that allow condensation between panes of glass.
- Frame warping or cracking—this will allow water, air, and even insects to get inside. You may even notice water stains around the frame where moisture penetrated.
- Increased utility bills—you may attribute higher energy costs on the company providing the services, but your windows may be the culprit. Heat/cold air loss through older windows may force your furnace or air conditioner to work harder and cost you more. Check with your energy provider for comparable electric charges for households of similar-size and age. If your bills are significantly higher, it could be a sign your windows need replacement.
- Excessive age—windows older than 10 years may start to deteriorate and should be evaluated for possible replacement.
Once you’ve determined that you need to start replacing windows, it’s critical that you do a little homework to determine the best course of action. Review the following guide to avoid making these 10 awful mistakes:
1. Decision Based on Price Only
Of course, we’ve all heard the saying, “You get what you pay for.” At first glance, all replacement windows may appear to be the same. Be aware that accepting the lowest bid may also mean you’re purchasing an inferior product that may fail within a short time. Paying too much for replacement windows may not be your best choice either. Because a product is more expensive doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better. Before making a final decision, make sure you clearly understand the pros and cons of the windows you’re purchasing.
Some reasons for higher pricing might be the following:
- Imported window parts
Some Canadian companies import complete windows or window parts, such as sealed units, which are the most expensive of all parts and produced in the U.S. Labour, shipping costs and currency exchange rate affect the final price. There are Canadian window companies manufacture windows in the United States, while Ecoline Windows manufactures its windows in Canada. They are specifically designed for the harsh prairie clients, which features triple pane and low-e coated glass.
- Limited type of installation
Some companies offer only nail fin installation which is more expensive as it is more labour-intensive work. Exterior walls must be cut through stucco, siding etc. Ecoline Windows offers all types of installations such as nail fin, brick-to-brick, and retrofit.
- Subcontracted installers
Some companies don’t have their own installation crew and they must subcontract other companies to do the job. Due to this fact, higher charges may apply.
- Showroom expenses
Companies with showrooms and high overhead costs must raise prices to cover their expenses.
- Manual labour vs automated labour
Manual labour is more expensive than automated. However, it does not necessarily mean it offers substantial quality improvements.
- Well-known brands
Brand name products that provide name recognition in the industry often dictate higher prices. It doesn’t mean that the quality of the products is better than any other brands.
- Window Company Localization
Local Canadian vs non-local window companies. Again, extra charges will be incurred such as labour, shipping costs, exchange rate, etc.
While cost is one of the most important things in this process, it’s not the only factor. When comparing replacement window estimates, you’ll want to consider the cost-of-ownership such as the initial expense, energy efficiency, and maintenance requirements like painting, caulking, and ease of cleaning.
2. Replacing Old Windows with the Same Type
You may have been happy with the style and brand of your old windows, but new technologies, designs, and finishes will help you save energy, reduce maintenance, and improve comfort. Don’t forget that the window problems you’re experiencing that led to the replacement may still exist.
Read Next: Ultimate Guide to Casement Windows
Consider these features instead:
- Energy Star certified
- Low maintenance exterior (vinyl or fibreglass)
- Tilt-in windows (for easy cleaning)
- Wood interior for staining or painting
- Low-E coated glass windows
- Argon or Krypton gas between panes
- Double- or triple-pane
- Warranty guarantees
3. Ignoring Upkeep Requirements
If you’ve spent a lot of time maintaining your old windows, you understand how challenging and costly it can be. When choosing replacements, think about what will be needed to keep them looking and performing their best.
Wood and steel windows will need to be painted every five years. Those on the weather side may also need to be scraped to remove loose and chipping paint. Eliminate painting altogether by selecting aluminum, vinyl, or clad wood windows.
Don’t forget to caulk regularly along the house wall and window to keep moisture out and reduce energy costs.
Forgetting to make repairs to broken glass, damaged gaskets, window operators as needed will affect the window performance and shorten its lifespan.
No matter what type of windows you install, at some point, you’ll need to clean them. Older windows typically require you to climb dangerous ladders, erect expensive and cumbersome scaffolding or hire a professional window cleaner to bring back that original luster. Newer models make cleaning a breeze where double-hung windows are built with a tilt-in sash or casement windows open to expose both the interior and exterior for easier cleaning. New coatings are also available that stops dirt from sticking to the glass and easily washes away with the rain.
4. Failing to Consider Glazing Options
New technologies have enhanced almost every industry and product and that includes window glass. Conventional clear glass is still available but new glazing options have opened the door to choosing specialized finishes for specific applications.
You’ll want to consider which option will work best for your needs:
- Heat absorbing
- Low-emissivity (Low-E) – blocks infrared and ultraviolet light
Each glazing finish provides exceptional functionality from energy efficiency to privacy to safety and security.
5. Overlooking the Importance of Aesthetics and Comfort
You may be excited to choose new energy-efficient Low-E glazing or maintenance-free vinyl replacement windows, but don’t overlook the appearance of your home if you aren’t replacing all your windows at once. Different window glazings reflect a variety of colours and will impact the overall appearance of your home. The same goes for type and style. You’ll want to match the window type and style of home to achieve a coordinating look instead of a mismatched one.
You may want to consider adding decorative grills to improve the appearance and curb appeal. They come in a variety of styles and often offer different colours on the interior and exterior sides. Plain glass windows with no grills are typically used for a contemporary style and grills will enhance a country, traditional or Craftsman-style home.
You may never have considered the effect of windows on your family’s comfort, but you should. Before choosing your replacement styles, think about what your rooms are being used for and match your selections appropriately. The wrong windows can cause drafts, hot spots, poor visibility, and glare. Take a little extra time and you’ll be able to turn those trouble spots into your favourite rooms in the house.
6. Failing to Consider Security
As you might imagine, windows make your home vulnerable to break-ins, so you must consider security when choosing your replacement windows. There are many products that will enhance security such as:
- Operable vs. fixed sashes—leaving a window open or unlocked can be an invitation for intrusion. Fixed sashes provide visibility and natural light without risk of unwanted guests.
- Hardware—special security locks and handles are available to protect this point of entry with a reinforced locking mechanism that makes it virtually impossible to open from the outside.
- Glazing—special tints and reflectivity are deterrents to burglary as it’s more difficult to see in. Other glazings are shatter-resistant and impact-resistant to prevent windows from being broken to gain entry.
Avoid making this awful mistake by choosing a more secure window for exposed or easily accessed areas.
Read Next: Window Installation and Security Systems
7. Purchasing Windows Not Suited to Your Geographic Location
Window performance can be affected by the materials they’re made from. Areas with high humidity and moisture will cause wood windows to warp leading to inefficient operation.
Locales, where there is harsh sun exposure, will benefit from insulated Low-E glass that reduces harmful UV rays and excessive heat from the sun. Higher performing Energy Star windows will help protect upholstered furniture from fading and block heat generated by sunlight.
For regions prone to hurricane-force winds and rains, impact-resistant sash and glazing should offer protection from flying debris and water infiltration during severe storms
8. Replacing the Windows Yourself
Unless you’re experienced in replacing windows, it’s recommended that you use a replacement window professional to do the job. There three installation methods—retrofit (reuse existing frames), full-frame replacement (all new components) and sealed unit replacement (can replace just the sealed unit without replacing the whole window.) Be aware of installation and warranty issues associated with the sealed unit replacement method:
- Replacing only sealed units can cost up to 50-70% of the full window replacement.
- Replacement sealed units have a limited warranty of up to one year.
- Frames can be damaged during installation due to different sizes.
- Casement windows can only be replaced with double-pane windows.
- Operable windows can only be replaced with double-pane sealed units.
Replacement experts can provide an accurate assessment of which installation method to use and recommend the best windows (and components) for your particular needs.
Save money and reduce your risk of injury by letting the pros do the job. You’ll increase the lifespan of the windows, improve energy efficiency, and give your home great curb appeal by enlisting the help of an experienced contractor.
Contractors will also be able to provide information about rebate and incentive programs being offered through the town or province.
9. Failing to Screen a Window Contractor
Choosing the right contractor is as important as choosing the right replacement windows. Do plenty of research, speak to friends and neighbours for recommendations, consult with your local Better Business Bureau, and ask a lot of questions. You’ll want a company with a reputation for providing excellent service and standing behind their workmanship.
Ask for references plus copies of their license and insurance. Be sure to ask for a written estimate that includes all costs with no vague add-ons, time frame for work to be completed and contact information for questions. Understand the payment structure and be wary of companies that ask for full payment before the job is complete.
Be wary of contractors that only accept cash payments. This is not recommended as many do not give receipts, and you’ll have no recourse if the company doesn’t perform as expected.
Discuss what type of warranty is available for labour (and materials if purchased directly) and ask for a written copy for your future reference.
10. Poor Scheduling
Unfortunately, there’s no quick and easy way to install replacement windows without some disruption, so careful scheduling is imperative.
You’ll need some prep time to remove window treatments and clear furniture away from the area. Arrange for small children and pets to be cared for away from the home. Follow weather reports to avoid disruptive weather conditions. Although some contractors offer discounts for doing work in the off-season, be sure that the job can be done quickly to reduce exposure to the elements and that caulking will adhere to surfaces with cold temperatures.
Committing to a replacement window project means doing a lot of research. There is no quick fix, but with the proper tools, you can avoid making mistakes that will derail your home improvement plans. When done properly, you can expect reduced energy use and utility bills, fewer maintenance tasks, a more secure environment, and a more comfortable home.
Contact Ecoline Windows to schedule a professional window replacement evaluation today. Serving Calgary, Edmonton, Regina, Saskatoon, and Winnipeg for your convenience.