Your house may not be able to talk to you, but nevertheless, it gives you signs when something’s not right. A home’s windows are particularly communicative. Although they don’t last forever, high-quality, well-maintained windows could last for 20 years or more, but there are many factors at play. (Windows in a coastal city like Charleston, SC, might age faster than they would in Los Angeles, CA, for example.) If your windows are more than a few decades old, listen carefully to what they’re telling you, so you’ll know when they need to be replaced. Here’s what to be on the lookout for.
It’s sometimes possible to repair a window instead of replacing it. If your window’s problem is minor, such as needing new weatherstripping or hardware, a repair might be the best option. But replacing a damaged, warped, or broken window sash or frame is almost always preferred to attempting a repair. “Even if the windows are still operable, they can develop problems,” says Kris Hanson, Senior Group Manager in Product Management at Marvin Windows and Doors. Do your windows fog up? Are they drafty? Do they stick when you try to open or close them? Do they refuse to stay open? If your windows are communicating in those ways, they’re telling you to replace them.
Windows provide some heat in the winter by letting in sunlight. But drafty windows can cause your energy bills to be about 10% to 25% higher, according to Energy.gov. Replacing your windows with energy-efficient ones can reduce your heating and cooling bills. Bonus: If you’re considering listing your home for sale, those new windows — and the resulting energy cost savings — can be a big selling point.
But don’t assume all windows are the same; it’s important to consider your specific needs. One factor? Your location. “Marvin offers a wide range of energy-efficient options and can tailor your windows to best suit your climate,” says Hanson. “Insulating glass is standard in all Marvin windows, along with thousands of options that meet the Energy Star Most Efficient designation, the highest standard for efficiency for the program.”
Windows are one of the most prominent features of a home, and if they look worn, your house will too. Look to see whether the color is fading or the window material is warping, or whether old screens or storm windows detract from the curb appeal of your home, suggests Hanson. “Architects and builders know that good design is critical for the longevity of a structure. Design considerations are a close second to quality when selecting new windows, and the overall vision or design theme of a home or space should be a driving force in the window selection process,” he adds.
While you’re upgrading your home’s appearance, you might also wish to change the type of window from a fixed sash to a window that opens. This way, “you can create a more comfortable interior and improve airflow through your home,” says Hanson. Another option? Install larger windows to increase a room’s natural light, which has aesthetic and health benefits: According to the Lighting Research Center, daylit environments increase productivity and comfort, plus help regulate your circadian rhythms for better general wellness.
If you live in a hurricane impact zone or another area prone to severe weather events, you’re probably prepared for the possibility of damaged windows. In fact, just living near the coast can do a number on your home’s exterior, including your windows. “If you worry about the effects of sea salt, humidity, or coastal winds, consider Integrity windows made with Ultrex fiberglass,” says Hanson. “These windows resist corrosion and remain stable in extreme temperatures because of a material that expands at the same rate as glass.” But even if you don’t live in a coastal region, if your top priority in a window is low maintenance, windows made with Ultrex fiberglass would be a smart choice. “The finish is three times thicker than the competitors’, which ensures Integrity windows won’t crack, dent, chip, or peel — they’re virtually maintenance-free,” adds Hanson.
Maybe you moved into a historic home that suffers from vinyl replacement windows that detract from the home’s historic charm. The wrong window can dramatically change the overall look of a historic home and can even interfere with its integrity. If your goal is to install historically accurate replacement windows, a company that can handle custom requests should be your go-to. “Marvin specializes in creating customized windows to match one-of-a-kind spaces as well as producing exact replicas of historical homes,” says Hanson.