Window replacements can be a sizable investment, so how often should you replace the windows in your home? What kind of lifespan can you expect? Do you need to replace them all at once? Owner of one of the oldest family-owned window and door companies in the Valley, Sal Sucato of DunRite Windows & Doors explores the topic.
“Sometimes a remodel drives the decision to replace windows, because a homeowner is unhappy with how they look or operate, and simply wants to change up the design or curb appeal of their home,” Sucato says, “but homeowners should also watch for signs their windows are at the end of their lifespan.”
If a home’s windows are single-pane, the homeowner is paying much more for their air conditioning and heating utilities than necessary, simply due to the energy inefficiency of the window. It’s a long-outdated design that allows summer heat to enter the home right through the glass. They’re also typically made with aluminum frames that directly transfer heat from the outside of the metal frame to the inside of the home, which is something today’s modern thermally broken aluminum windows prevent.
And if the windows are older than 25 years? It depends on the type of materials used in the window, and the quality and condition of the windows, but they’re probably due for replacement. Windows manufactured before 2000 just don’t have the same lifespan a homeowner can expect of a more modern product with technology advances, especially vinyl.
“A vinyl window that’s 15-20 years old will probably need replacement, where a good quality vinyl window installed today can be expected to last 30-40 years or longer,” says Sucato. “The additives and improvements make them a lovely, budget-friendly choice with a long lifespan if they’re manufactured by a reputable brand.”
“We’re especially happy with vinyl products from Milgard and Anlin, and the vinyl-wood composite window from Andersen. They can be expected to last, and the robust warranties reflect manufacturer confidence in their product.”
Wood windows can last 30-40 years if they have an aluminum-clad exterior (think Andersen or Pella)—but just 5-10 years in the Valley’s extreme climate if it’s an all-wood window. Fiberglass can be expected to last 45-65 years, making it the most robust material, although the glass insulation and seal or hardware might need replacing during that time. Sucato’s actual product recommendations often depend on several factors, such as the color of window a homeowner prefers, and the style of window and home he’s working with. These can narrow down the appropriate selections and materials.
Material isn’t the only factor influencing how long a window lasts; maintenance can have a major impact on the lifespan of a window, too. If the window has been painted, the hardware may not easily open or close the window and the drainage holes may be blocked, leading to issues from water damage. Homeowners often don’t realize that wood windows require extra maintenance, too. A wood window that hasn’t been refinished on an annual basis might have a much shorter lifespan than expected.
If it’s a vinyl window, which aren’t supposed to be painted after installation, the homeowner may discover their windows are peeling or blistering after a few years, giving the home a shoddy look.
“We recommend that every homeowner does a visual inspection of their windows annually, taking a look at the interior and exterior of each window,” adds Sucato. “Looking at the frame, glass, sashing and other aspects of the windows on a regular basis will ensure you’ll have a good idea how they’re holding up.”
Counting the years isn’t always the best way to determine if windows are due for replacement, but most homeowners should start watching them more closely after the fifteen-year mark. Even the best maintained windows eventually show signs of water damage, rot/mold, or condensation between the panes of glass. They’ll begin to lose energy efficiency.
If it’s just one or two windows, a glass repair company or handyman can often solve the issue by swapping out the glass unit. However, if it’s happening on multiple or all units, then it’s probably time to replace the windows for the entire home. It can be done in a day or two. “Just be sure to look at a company’s reputation and installation warranty as part of the shopping process, not just the price,” Sucato recommends.
An Arizona-native owned and operated family business since 1990, DunRite Windows & Doors specializes in residential window and door replacements, and is a 2021 BBB Torch Award finalist. Visit azwindowreplacement.com for a free ebook on what every homeowner should know before buying new home windows.