Are Your Windows a Pane? Here’s How You’ll Know It’s Time to Replace Them

Jenna Jonaitis
Written by Jenna Jonaitis
Updated January 27, 2022
An old window with a flower vase on its sill
Photo: Nina Vartanava / EyeEm / Getty Images

Let’s shine some light on the signs

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Brand new windows can lower your energy bills, make your home more comfortable, and boost your home’s appearance. But you may wonder whether a simple repair can suffice—or if you should bite the bullet and opt for all new windows.

Here's how to know if it’s time to replace your windows rather than repair them. 

7 Signs You Should Replace Your Windows

You may need new windows in your home if you’re experiencing one or more of these common issues:

1. The Room Feels Drafty

If air is leaking in through your windows, you’ll feel cool drafts and may even hear the wind whistling through them. If you’ve caulked your windows and done weatherstripping but are still experiencing draftiness, it might be time for a total window replacement. 

2. The Glass Is Foggy

When you have double- or triple-paned windows, condensation can get trapped between the panes. If your windows seem cloudy or foggy, it could mean there’s a leak, which requires a window replacement, although you may be able to fix the seal on the window instead of replacing the entire unit—especially if your window frame is still in good shape. 

3. Your Energy Bills Are High

If your old windows aren’t energy-efficient, they leak hot and cold air to the outside, causing your heating and cooling systems to work harder to keep your home comfortable. Skyrocketing utility bills are a sign that you may need to replace your windows.

4. Your Windows Don’t Open or Close Properly

If your windows get stuck or don't close all the way, it could be due to a shifting foundation, window frame deterioration, or a painted-shut window. You'll likely need to replace your windows and frames for full function. 

5. Your Window Frames Are Soft

If you have wood windows, moisture can cause the outside framing to rot. If your exterior framing feels soft to the touch, you’ll want to replace your windows and frames soon. 

6. Water Is Seeping In

If you notice water coming in through your windows, it’s a likely sign that you should get new windows. Water damage can be expensive and dangerous to the rest of your home.

7. You Want to Update the Look

Older windows and window frames can hinder your home’s appearance. New windows can make your home appear more modern, up-to-date, and beautiful.

When To Repair Your Windows Instead

The typical cost of repairing a window ranges from $160 to $550. There are a few occasions when repairing your old windows might be enough. Here are  reasons to repair your windows instead of replacing them: 

Broken Glass 

If your window has a broken pane of glass, you can simply hire a window pro to repair it. This process is also known as window reglazing, and helps you avoid a full window replacement. 

Faulty Component

When just one component of a window isn’t functioning, a repair is often possible. If your window needs a new locking mechanism or exterior drip cap, for instance, a repair may be all you need. 

Historic Window

Many historic districts have specific guidelines about a house's exterior, including windows. Sometimes it's more cost-effective to make your old windows more energy-efficient rather than replace them. Plus, many antique windows in old houses are made of durable old-growth wood, so they can stand up to decades of use.

Benefits of Window Replacements

Replacing your old windows with updated energy-efficient windows can offer your home a host of advantages:

  • Lower energy bills and reduced carbon footprint (25% to 30% of heating and cooling energy use is attributed to heat loss and gain through windows)

  • Better insulation and more comfortable indoor temperatures

  • Reduced noise

  • Increased safety

  • Easier to open and close

  • Better view of the outdoors

  • Updated appearance

  • Increases your home’s value

You can reach out to a professional energy auditor or a local window replacement company to inspect your home and see if it’s time to replace your windows.

Types of Replacement Windows

When it comes to window replacement, there are several options. First, you’ll need to decide between new construction windows or replacement windows

  • New construction windows: These windows are installed from the exterior and you may need to remove trim and siding to put them in. 

  • Replacement windows: These windows are installed from the interior and are usually easier and less expensive to install.

Second, you’ll need to choose your material. The material and style you choose depends on your home and what you desire in your new windows. Common new window materials include: 

  • Aluminum

  • Vinyl

  • Composite

  • Wood

  • Fiberglass

Cost of New Windows

The cost of window replacement typically falls between $75 to $1,500 per window plus $100 to $300 each for labor. Custom or extra-large windows can boost your project price by 25% to 50%.

The material of your window dictates the price along with the style. Here’s a breakdown of common window types and their prices: 

  • Storm windows: $50–$300

  • Single-hung: $100–$400

  • Double-hung: $150–$650

  • Sliding: $150–$800

  • Folding: $500–$900

  • Casement: $150–$1,000

  • Picture: $300–$1,200

  • Bay: $1,800

  • Bow: $1,500–$6,500

Your new windows may be eligible for a federal tax credit and other local, state, and utility company credits and loan programs. These offerings can reduce the price of your overall project. Replacing your windows during the winter, when installation pros are less busy, is another way to save money.

Should I Replace My Windows All at Once?

Replacing all your windows at once saves you money per window, reducing your costs in the long run. Getting all new windows can create a cohesive style and boost the value of your home. You can certainly replace some of your windows and not all of them, but avoid replacing fewer than five windows at a time to avoid higher overhead costs.

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