When it comes to replacing home windows, timing is everything. Waiting too long can result in increasing heating bills, as aging windows are prone to draftiness and poor insulation. Plus, leaving older window systems to rot or deteriorate can result in costly water damage to the area around the window, if moisture has started to leak into the frame.

So when is the proper time to replace your home’s windows? On average, residential windows are designed to last 15 to 20 years. If you have a home built prior to 1996 and you haven’t replaced the windows, it may be time to consider it. The good news is modern systems that are installed properly and well maintained can reasonably last up to three decades or more. Plus, new windows will add value to your home and can help to reduce heating and cooling bills.

Is your home in need of new windows? Beyond these ballpark figures, there are a few signs that will tell you that it might be time.

Determining If Your Home’s Windows Need to Be Replaced

In particular, older windows start to show their age in two ways: Deteriorating appearance and performance. Windows reaching the end of their operable lives look decrepit, with frames and hardware showing rot and wear. In terms of performance, old windows are drafty and do not work mechanically. You may notice an increase in heating bills, or a constant draft around your older windows.

Here are a few things to look out for:

  • Performance: Performance will deteriorate over time, as seals fail and sashes get stuck. If you cannot open a window and the sashes are jammed, it may be time to replace the windows. Secondly, the aging windows do not efficiently insulate the home like new double-pane windows. If you notice drafts around your windows, or if fog or condensation collects on the window, your windows may need to be replaced.
  • Appearance: There are also a number of visual clues that will tell you if your windows are reaching the end of their lifespan. You might notice water damage or moisture stains around the frames and sash. When it is a serious issue, the water damage will spread to the siding or interior walls of the home. Water damage is usually a good signal that the seals have failed. On some aluminum windows, you may notice rust, especially on the frames and hardware. Visible rot is another indicator that the windows need to be replaced or repaired.

To Replace or Repair Your Home’s Windows

If you notice the performance or appearance of your windows has begun to decline, window replacement isn’t always necessary. For example, weather-stripping and re-caulking windows can help to improve their performance, reducing drafts, and better insulating the window. Parts of the window system that no longer operate can often be replaced. In some cases, old rotting wooden frames can be repaired as well.

These issues happen more commonly as the windows pass a decade or more in use, but they can occur sooner if the window hasn’t been properly maintained. A window replacement company can help you determine if repairs make more sense than an all-out replacement.

If you are located in the Baltimore or Washington, D.C. metro areas, we encourage you to contact us today to see if you may need new windows.