Window replacement: warning signs and common problems

How do you know when you need to replace your windows? Rest assured, windows should give you plenty of warning signs first.

Here are several problems that indicate it may be time to take out the old windows altogether and install new versions.

Windows do not open or shut properly

This is the number one sign that window replacement is a good idea. As windows age, their frames lose integrity and the windows themselves grow unbalanced. This is easy to notice, because it means your windows have grown difficult to open or shut (note that this refers to your actually windows, not screens). You may notice that your window sticks in a certain place, frequently jams, or simply will not close all the way. Here the age of the window and the weakness of the frame are both working against you. The best solution is to replace the window entirely with durable materials and ask a professional properly size the new window.


Condensation occurs in two-pane windows, when moisture gets trapped between the two panes and shows up as condensation that you cannot reach, inside the glass. Not only is this annoying, it also points to a serious window problem. That space between the two panes is supposed to be sterile, inaccessible. Condensation is a sign that air is leaking in from somewhere, which means your window has a crack or leak at the edge. You could try to seal the window with a new line of caulk or a similar effort, but replacing the window may be better for a couple reasons. First, more sealant is just delaying the inevitable as your window continues to age and the sealants expand and contract. Second, resealing the window will not remove the annoying condensation.

Heating and cooling difficulties

If you are having problems heating or cooling a particular room in your house, look to the window. As windows develop cracks and start to fail, they lose their usefulness as a thermal energy barrier. This means that heat can pass in and out of your home more easily, which makes heating and cooling more difficult. You may also notice drafts during windy days if your windows are particularly bad. These are signs that a room is due for a window replacement.

Window frame cracks and peeling paint

Cracked frames and peeling paint are signs of moisture problems – water may be finding ways to seep into your framework and damage it, especially if the problem is localized. Take a close look at your windows if you notice peeling issues. If you have wooden window frames, test them thoroughly for any signs of rot. Soft or wet wood is a sign of moisture problems that you need to address before the rot spreads to other areas. Often the best solution is a complete window replacement and a switch to a more moisture-resistant material.

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