Last week, we had a chance to speak with our company’s President, Michael Mastroberti, on some key points to know when in the market for window replacement. Things like replacing your window at the right time, knowing the signs a window needs replaced and understanding condensation are just a few of the points we got to cover.
What are the signs for window repair?
The typical lifespan of a window is 20-30 years depending on the quality and use. Windows will show signs of wear and tear via hardware malfunctions including broken locks, balances, balance shoes, casement cranks, or anything that effects the operation of the window. Insulated glass that has failed will show ‘fog’ or ‘cloudiness’ between the panes meaning the seal has been violated and moisture is entering between the panes. Another tell tale sign is worn out weather stripping which will allow air to penetrate and increase noise transmission from the exterior to the interior.
What is the best time of year to replace a window?
Replacement windows can be replaced in any season and the discomfort mid-winter or mid-summer is temporary and lasts only a few hours at worst. Replacing windows in the Spring or Fall seasons will add to the overall comfort of the residence or office space when extremes set in not to mention pay dividends on energy savings in high utility bill months. Winter does give us shorter days and reduce production on projects like everyone else, window companies need to work year-round in order to have efficient workflows and cashflow.
Can you fix condensation without replacing the entire window?
The easy answer is yes. Most modern windows (1980+) allow for glass replacement except some obsolete wood windows. It’s important that the glass size and depth is accurate for the window to continue to perform as designed after the glass is replaced. You might consider replacing the entire window if it’s older than 20 years and showing signs of disrepair as a new glass unit in an old frame may not be worth the investment long term. Window repair would not be beneficial in this situation. In weighing the cost of a window repair vs replacing the entire unit; the warranty of a new window should be of consideration as most manufacturers offer a minimum of 5 years on the window components, 10 years on glass failure, and some lifetime on the frame.
Overall, which is better? A double or single-hung window?
Interesting question that I have explained often over the last 35 years. A double-hung window allows both top and bottom sashes to operate and in most cases tilt-in. This allows for easy cleaning and for the top sash to be left open or both top and bottom half-way. The single-hung has a fixed top sash that doesn’t not operate or tilt-in but the bottom sash does. For cleaning purposes the top glass requires a person to lean out of the bottom sash to clean the exterior but tilt-in the bottom sash for cleaning. So that debate is a matter of preference. When it comes to cost, energy efficiency, and repair I think the single-hung wins hands down. Why? A single-hung has have the moving part so it reduces the repair ratio by 50%. Since no operating window is airtight the single-hung offers a sealed top glass reducing air-infiltration by 50%. One pet peeve of mine is driving by homes with double-hung windows and noticing a top sash that is open about a ½” behind a curtain or blind allowing more air-infiltration. The single-hung usually offers a fastened meeting rail at the center of the frame thus negating the need for shims most of the time. Finally, because of the reduce parts in the single-hung they tend to run 10-20% cheaper than a double-hung.
Any other words of advice?
At the end of the day it all comes down to planning and preparation in replacement windows. Measuring correctly is the most important aspect as a correctly measured window is easier to install and perform at optimum levels. Mis-measured windows can be ‘made to fit’ but it seems to never workout well in the final analysis as large gaps allow air and water infiltration and most caulkers don’t use the proper methods when seal large gaps. Preparing for the exterior and interior finish when measuring also guarantees a smooth process and long term performance. Finally, choosing the window that matches the application is equally important. You wouldn’t want to purchase a new construction window at the local supply house to replace a wood pocket window and vice versa.