FAQ About Replacing Old Windows

Jan 28, 2021

Is age the only reason to replace your home’s windows? If you have an older home with older windows, take a look at what you need to know about replacement options and installation.

What Is the Average Window’s Lifespan?

The answer to this question depends on the building material. According to the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI), vinyl or fiberglass windows have the longest lifespan. These frames can last for 20 to 40 years. Wooden frames (when properly maintained) can have a lifespan greater than 30 years. Aluminum or aluminum-clad frames have the shortest lifespan — 15 to 20 years.

Even though you can typically expect your windows to last for several decades, several factors impact the exact number. Along with the building material (vinyl, fiberglass, wood, or aluminum), the quality of the material, care or maintenance, local climate and weather, and installation can affect your windows’ lifespan.

Do You Need to Replace Old Windows?

Whether you recently bought a new-to-you older home or you know your windows are decades old, you won’t necessarily need to replace the windows right away. While age is one predictor of the need to replace a home’s windows, it isn’t a requirement. This means your 30-year-old aluminum windows may not require an immediate replacement — or even a replacement anytime soon.

Again, other factors (such as building material and upkeep) play parts in the need to replace your home’s windows. If you start with a top-quality product and you’ve cared for the windows constantly over time, you shouldn’t emphasize age in your decision-making process. But if you have older windows that have clear signs of wear and tear, damage, or age, it’s time to install new replacements.

Should You Ever Replace Newer Windows?

You recently bought a new construction home or the previous owner claims they installed new windows within the past few years. Does this mean you can wait decades before you consider replacing the windows? High-quality, well-installed windows won’t require an immediate replacement. But cheaply made windows may not stand up to the test of time or your local climate.

How Do You Know If Your Home Has Cheaply Made Windows?

Most homeowners can’t easily spot the differences between high-quality and cheaply made windows. If you didn’t choose or install the windows in your home, look for the top signs of low quality glass and frames. If the window doesn’t fit the frame opening (has visible gaps, leaks, or doesn’t sit evenly), your home may have a low-quality product or substandard installation.

Even though many cheap products have obvious signs, some windows may look identical to higher quality models. While different qualities of windows may have a similar appearance, lower-level options may not work as well. If you can feel a breeze near the window, your home is uncomfortably hot/cold, or you have high energy bills (without another explanation), you may need to replace your home’s windows.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 25 to 30 percent of home heating/cooling-related energy use is the result of heat gains and losses through windows. Lower quality products allow greater degrees of heat loss or gain. A window contractor can help you to better understand whether your home’s high utility bills are a result of low-quality panes/frames or come from another area.

What Type of Replacement Window Should You Choose?

This question doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all answer. Think about the factors (outside of age) that go into long-lasting high-quality windows before you choose one type or model. Ask the window contractor about lifespan, building material type, and insulation/energy efficiency.

After you choose the just-right replacements for your home, schedule a professional installation. This can extend the life of your new windows and maximize the product’s energy efficiency.

Does your home need new windows? Contact 1st Choice Windows & Siding for more information.