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How Often Should You Replace Windows in Your Home?

Your windows are an important part of your home, providing natural light, ventilation, and insulation. But over time, windows wear out and become less effective. They might even shift as the house settles around them.

So how often should you replace your windows? Here are a few specific signs that it may be time:

  • Your windows are old.
  • You have single-pane aluminum windows.
  • Your windows are drafty.
  • Your windows are difficult to open and close.
  • Your windows are damaged.
  • Your windows are not energy efficient.

If you notice any of these signs, it’s a good idea to contact a window replacement professional to get an estimate.

Let’s explore how often you should replace windows in a bit more detail.

Consider the age of your windows

The need for window replacements can often be determined by their age. The average lifespan of a window is 15-20 years. However, this can vary depending on a number of factors, including the type of window, the climate you live in, and how well you maintain your windows.

If your windows are more than 20 years old and showing signs of wear, it might be time for a replacement. And if you have single-pane aluminum windows? Those are an energy-efficiency nightmare that definitely should be replaced. They’re allowing most of summer’s scorching heat right into your home, especially in direct sunlight.

If your windows are only 10-12 years old, here’s a bit of good news: you might have longer than you think before they need to be replaced. Anything manufactured after 2010 is likely to have a longer lifespan. Instead of a 15-20 year lifespan, you might have 25 or 30 years, or longer for some materials. In the last decade, the quality and strength of vinyl has dramatically improved, new composite formulas became available, and we made great strides in improving energy efficiency… something that’s never been more important as we face climate change.

As long as it’s a quality window, not a bargain basement product, you can expect modern windows to have a lifespan of 30-40 years or longer, thanks to these advancements.

Problematic windows between 15-20 years old can leave homeowners on the fence about replacing them. If you find a good price, we recommend doing it since the overall costs have substantially increased every year. In more than 20 years of installing windows, we’ve never seen a price drop, so we expect prices to continue climbing.

However, if your windows are in good shape and less than 20 years old, you can probably wait. It can be smart to do them right before you have the house repainted, or if you hate the style or how they operate… but it will take quite a while for the savings on utility bills alone to pay for the upgrade. And if you plan to sell the home, you won’t recoup the entire cost, either. Most, but not all.

Evaluate the material & shape they’re in

Age isn’t the only factor to consider. The material of your windows plays a significant part too. For instance, wood windows with an aluminum-clad exterior can last between 30-40 years, whereas all-wood windows may only last 5-10 years in extreme climates. Fiberglass, in contrast, is the most robust material, lasting 45+ years, although you may need to replace the glass insulation and seals or hardware during that time.

Another critical aspect to consider is maintenance. Like any other part of your home, windows need regular upkeep. For instance, wood windows require annual refinishing to maximize their lifespan. On the other hand, vinyl windows shouldn’t be painted after installation, as they may peel or blister after a few years, affecting the aesthetic of your home. All windows need their tracks and glass cleaned regularly, and to be consistently opened and closed to ensure they remain in working order.

Finally, keep in mind that a visual inspection of your windows every year can give you a good idea of their condition. Checking the frame, glass, sashing, sealant and other aspects of the windows will ensure you’re aware of their state and can act accordingly.

Counting the years shouldn’t be the only way to determine if windows are due for replacement. Always keep an eye out for signs of water damage, rot, mold, or condensation between the panes of glass. If you spot these issues across multiple units, it’s probably time for a full window replacement. However, if it’s only one or two windows, a simple glass unit swap by a glass repair company might be enough.

Benefits of replacing your windows

There are many benefits to replacing your windows, including:

  • Improved energy efficiency. New windows are typically more energy efficient than older windows, which can help you save money on your energy bills.
  • Increased comfort. New windows can help to keep your home cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter, making it more comfortable for you and your family.
  • Reduced noise pollution. New windows can help to reduce noise pollution from outside, making your home more peaceful and quiet.
  • Enhanced curb appeal. New windows can give your home a fresh, new look and enhance its curb appeal.
  • Increased home value. New windows can increase the value of your home.

How to choose the right replacement windows

When choosing replacement windows, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • The type of window. There are many different types of windows available, including single-pane windows, double-pane windows, and triple-pane windows. Double-pane windows are the most popular choice, as they offer a good balance of energy efficiency and affordability.
  • The material. Windows are typically made of fiberglass, vinyl or aluminum. Aluminum-clad wood windows are the most expensive option: fiberglass windows are the second most expensive, but the most durable. Vinyl windows are a more affordable option, and they are also relatively easy to maintain. Aluminum windows are the least expensive option, but they are also the least durable.
  • The style. Windows come in a variety of styles, including traditional, contemporary, and transitional. Choose a style that complements the overall style of your home.

Cost of replacing windows

The cost of replacing windows varies depending on the type of window, the material, the size of the window, and the number of windows you need to replace. However, you can expect to pay between $600 and $1,200+ per window depending on the manufacturer, material, style, features and upgrades.

How to find a reputable window replacement contractor

When choosing a window replacement contractor, it is important to find a reputable company with experience in installing the type of windows you want. Be sure to get multiple estimates and compare prices before making a decision. Download our free ebook for tips on how to choose.

Conclusion

Replacing your windows can be a big investment, but it is one that can pay off in the long run. New windows can help you save money on your energy bills, improve your home’s comfort and curb appeal, and increase its value.

Additional tips for replacing your windows

  • Get multiple estimates. As mentioned above, it is important to get multiple estimates from different window replacement contractors before making a decision. This will help you to ensure that you are getting the best possible price.
  • Ask about warranties. Most window replacement contractors offer warranties on their work and on the windows themselves. Be sure to ask about the warranty terms before signing any contracts.
  • Read reviews. Before hiring a window replacement contractor, be sure to read online reviews from other customers. Exploring their reputation can help you to get a sense of the company’s worksmanship and experience.
  • Be prepared for the installation process. The window replacement process typically takes one to three days, depending on the number of windows you are replacing. The installer will be able to share enough details that you can plan for minimal disruption.
  • For more details, be sure to check out our Ultimate Buying Guide to Replacing Your Home’s Windows, and our most recent blog articles.

Published Sept. 14, 2021

 
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Please note that we install replacement windows and doors, but we don’t repair them or replace broken glass. Three-item minimum purchase, some doors excluded. Refer to our FAQ and warranties page for details.

 

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