Monday, February 16, 2009

Should I replace those old windows?

I get asked all the time if it is worth it to replace windows in a house. Those beautiful single glazed wood windows in your older home are not nearly as inefficient as you have been led to believe by the advertising industry. Nor will window replacement necessarily be in your financial best interest. How do I know this? I investigated how much it would cost to replace the existing single-glazed wood windows (R-1) in my older home with new, highly energy efficient double-glazed, low-E, argon-filled vinyl replacement windows (R-3). Here is what I found out (numbers are only approximate values):

· My existing 19 windows lose about 17.4 million BTU's of heat each heating season

· The annual cost of this lost heat is about $130

· New highly efficient ENERGY STAR rated vinyl replacement windows would lose about 2 million BTU's of heat annually. The annual cost of this lost heat would be about $16.

· If I install the vinyl replacement windows the total annual savings on my heating bill would be about $114.

· To realize this annual $114 savings I would need to invest $8000 in vinyl replacement windows.

Spending $8,000 to save a little over $100 per year is not a good method for saving lots of money on heating bills. And vinyl windows will subtract from the beauty of my older home, rather than add to it as my older windows do. In addition, there are other less expensive options available to me for reducing loss of heat through my older windows.

Simple, quick steps for tightening up an older window:

Replace cracked/broken window panes. Even cracked pieces of glass will let in lots of cold air

Replace missing/deteriorated glazing. This prevents air from entering from around glass panes and is also very important for long-term maintenance. Always paint the glazing after it has cured, and remember to overlap a thin line of paint onto the glass. This will help to keep moisture from running down the outside of the glass and getting under the glazing where it can eventually rot the muntins.

Make certain that a sash lock is present and in good working order. A proper fitting sash lock has significant impact on the air-tightness of a double hung window. The lock should pull the upper and lower window sash tightly together, and at the same time push the bottom sash down and the top sash up. You may need to spend some time cleaning the back meeting rails. Often dried paint drips will prevent the top sash from fully contacting the bottom sash at the meeting rail. Make certain those surfaces are flat and smooth for a good seal.

Wide window sash may require 2 window locks to get a tight seal across the full width of the meeting rails.

Adding a thin piece of foam weather stripping to the sill and head jamb to improve the seal when the windows are closed and locked will further increase air tightness, which increases energy efficiency.

Putting a thin bead of caulk where the interior casing touches the interior walls may also increase air tightness.

There are special gaskets made that are designed to fit over counterweight pulleys. They are made in such a way so that they allow the pulley to turn and allow the sash cord move, but still seal out the cold air that may be infiltrating from a poorly sealed counterweight cavity.

Replace excessively worn parting bead (the narrow vertical piece of wood that separates the upper sash from the lower sash) to increase air tightness between window sash and window jam. The parting bead must be removed if you need to repair counterweights for the upper sash. Removing the parting bead will also allow you to take the upper sash out. This may be helpful if you need to replace much of the glazing in that sash.

There is a local company that we recommend to restore old wood windows called Window Woman.


A far more inexpensive but temporary option is to use a product from DAP called Seal 'N Peel. Apply it around all the cracks using a caulking gun and when the spring rolls around you can peel it off easily. It emits some nasty smelling fumes so be prepared to exit the room for a while. The caulking is stocked at Home Depot or you can buy the caulking online at Amazon

41 comments:

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  26. me i did not replace it, i just change the color and repair it a little so it would look good also..

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  27. this is the common question of the others and like me..but for me if it is still look good then maybe it just need repair but if it really needs to be replaced then better look for a new one..

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  28. If saving energy and money, Wonderful Windows and Siding offers replacement windows and doors for homes, condominiums, townhomes and multi-family units throughout the Houston area.

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  29. Surely you can replace the old wooden windows with the vinyl replacement windows. You just need a good contractor for your home. You can take a free estimate of how much it will cost out for you. You just need to contact GTA Windows and Doors to get your free quote.

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  30. l am proud to present to my friends my New "Wonderful Windows and Siding" so clean shiny and neat. For Replacement Windows Houston, Houston Window Experts offers Replacement Windows in Houston at affordable prices.

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  31. I will go directly straight to the point, if you think your window's are too old enough I do suggest to replace it immediately you can contact Window Replacement Expert to do this job for you at very affordable price.

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  32. vinyl replacement windows are right for my home because they are affordable, easy to maintain, greatly cut down on the cost of energy, and are easy to customize.
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  33. I think it might be a good idea to get those windows replaced. $130 might not seem like a lot, but make that ten years and suddenly you are out $1,300 or so. I would suggest that you go with new windows. You could caulk or reseal the current ones, but that is only preventing the inevitable. Go with a professional to help you replace the windows. http://www.gilkey.com/windows/casement-windows.php

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  34. Hello,
    Thanks a lot for sharing such useful information. I liked the way you have explained it...Keep posting...
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  35. Wow, this was really helpful and informative! I had never really thought about it that way. I'll have to take a look and see if it's really worth replacing my windows, and how long it's going to take for it to pay for itself. Glad I read this, keep up the good work! http://anotherestimateerie.com/Room-Additions-Roofing-Installations.html

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  36. Yes,I agree with you. Sash lock must be in working order. If you are looking for Sash lock?? Then contact online at srshardware.com. Here you find latest update degion lock with traditional fitch pattern.

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  37. Hello,
    Thank you for representing the discussion regarding replacement of window..Its a better option to replace old windows...Very informative and useful post...Thank you too much.......
    Vinyl windows

    ReplyDelete
  38. By knowing about energy benefits of modern windows, i am thinking of replacing my old windows with new technology windows. Thanks for sharing your useful ideas with us.
    http://www.universalwindowsdenver.com/replacement-windows/sliding-windows

    ReplyDelete
  39. If you are pretty sure about the activity you are going to perform and have all set with the required tools, you would bring a good anecdote followed by many.one of the main things we needed to do in our house was to improve the lighting situation in all of the rooms.
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  40. I've just installed iStripper, so I can have the best virtual strippers on my desktop.

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  41. I got great information from this blog.It is very informative..
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    ReplyDelete