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Failing windows and doors will not only make your favorite spaces less comfortable, they may also have a negative effect on your health. Here’s how to know when it’s time for replacement.
As time goes by, the performance of your windows and doors will diminish. Weather-stripping gets damaged, seals fail, components get brittle and break. How do you know when it’s time to replace them? There are some obvious signs like cracked glass, drafty rooms, or that they’re hard to open and close, but some signs are more subtle. This handy guide will help you discover when it’s time for an upgrade.
Signs It’s Time to Replace Your Windows and Doors
Even Your Dog Needs a Blanket
Let’s start with the most obvious sign you need new windows and doors: comfort. Your home is your sanctuary, your retreat. There should be no space more comfortable than your home. If your favorite rooms never seem to warm up in the winter or stay cool in the summer, your windows and doors are likely substantial contributors to your, and your pet’s, discomfort. Most modern windows are better engineered, made with more effective materials, and today’s glass outperforms glass of days gone by in nearly every category, which all translates into more comfortable rooms.
High Energy Bills
It only makes sense that if your windows and doors are underperforming, your energy bills will be higher than they should be. Even if you can afford the extra money, heating and cooling the outdoors is wasteful and consumes more natural resources than is necessary. If you’re not sure what your fuel and electricity bills should be, ask your neighbors what they pay. If their house is built like yours and their family is a similar size, their bills should be roughly the same. Just make sure to explain why you’re asking, or might be pegged the neighborhood busybody.
If your curtains are moving around even when the window is closed, the cause could be the restless spirit of a departed soul, but a drafty window is more likely the culprit. There are a couple reasons why windows become susceptible to air infiltration. It might be that the window’s seals and gaskets have outlived their usefulness, or maybe the window was improperly installed in the first place, and the draft is not coming through the window itself but from the area between the window and the wall. If that’s the case, you may want to opt for new full replacement windows instead of inserts so the installer can properly insulate around your new windows.
You Can See the Light
Beautiful views of the outdoors can be a great thing, unless those views are being seen between a door panel and the door jamb. You should see no light around the perimeter of your door panel. If you can, your door is either out of alignment or the weather-stripping has worn out or is missing altogether. Water infiltration, which can lead to rot and mold, is also a concern with inadequately sealed doors.
For over 40 years, most windows have been made with dual pane glass, that is, two panes of glass separated by a small space. To improve insulation values, glass manufactures fill the space between the two panes with an inert gas like argon. Eventually, the seal keeping the gas in place fails, and the gas escapes, at which point the glass surfaces in the middle are prone to condensation. And when that condensation dries, it can leave behind an irritating foggy film which can’t be reached to be cleaned off. In addition to obscuring your view, a broken seal will negatively affect a window’s performance.
Poor performing and improperly installed windows and doors can lose their ability to prevent water from entering a home. And where there’s water, you’ll often find mold, which can be a real health concern, especially for those with mold allergies. Sometimes you can see the mold, but it could be growing inside your walls and the only sign might be a musty/moldy smell. Using tools like moisture meters and infrared cameras, a window and door professional can evaluate the situation and let you know if your windows and doors maybe contributing to the problem.
They Won’t Budge
Do you need a crowbar to open your sliding glass door or bedroom double hung window? If you do, you’re ready for new windows and doors. A stubborn window or door is not just inconvenient, it can be dangerous. If there’s a fire or other emergency, a stuck window or door could mean the difference between a safe outcome and disaster.
Bugs and Critters
Like teenagers, unwelcome pests are constantly on the lookout for food and shelter, and if they find access to them in your home, they won’t wait for an invitation. Bugs and critters will attack the weakest areas first, like gaps in caulking, missing gaskets, worn-out weather-stripping, and the insulation around a window. New windows and doors and modern insulation methods do a better job of staving off the assault of cold, hungry pests on the move.
You Yell A Lot
Maybe you’ve heard the news? There are more people in the world than there used to be. If your once tranquil boulevard has become a bustling thoroughfare, you’ve certainly heard all about it. In fact, you’re probably hearing a delivery van rumbling by right now. New windows and doors can be fitted with three panes of glass and special laminations that will help prevent outdoor noises from making it necessary to yell to be heard.
They’re Really Old
If your windows and doors, or the trim around them, were installed prior to 1978, there’s a good chance that they have been painted with lead-based paint. Lead is highly toxic when ingested, and children are particularly at risk. If you suspect that your windows and doors have been painted with lead paint, have the surfaces tested, and form an abatement plan if necessary.
If your windows and doors no longer hold a coat of paint, it’s probably time for an upgrade. What’s likely happening is that water is finding its way past seals and gaskets and into the painted components, causing the paint to fail from the inside out.
A Hurricane is Heading Your Way
If you live near a coast that is subject to tropical storms and hurricanes, you may want to step up your window and door game. Your windows and doors may have been code compliant thirty years ago, but codes have changed, and that’s because we now have the technology to create amazingly strong