Basics of the Window Replacement Process

Replacing Windows In a Home

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Installing new replacement windows is such an expensive, time-consuming process, most homeowners go through only once or twice in their lifetime. So it is normal to wonder—or to forget—what happens during the window replacement process.

A generalized chronology of the replacement process begins even before the installers arrive.

Before the Window Installers Arrive

Touch bases with the salesperson or scheduler and confirm the installation date and time. If you have unique needs for certain windows (such as saving an antique leaded-glass window), tape notes on them.

Arrange for pets to be cared for at a separate location during the replacement process. Same with children: Small kids roaming during window replacement not only get in the way, but they can also become injured.

Small items of value should be locked away in a cabinet. Move large items. Cover large items of value that cannot be moved away from the windows.

Window Replacement: First Day

If you can take off time from work or can work from home, do so. If you work from home and have a home office, ask if the crew can do that room first, allowing you to get on with your work.

The best way to manage a window replacement work crew is to not manage them. Trust the company that you have chosen to do their best possible work and stay out of their way.

Providing a crate of sealed bottled water is often appreciated by work crews. But you're not expected to provide meals or any type of food service.

Be within calling distance if they have questions, but do not hover. You get the best results if members of the work crew can call on you as a resource, without you constantly hovering over them.

  1. Meet the job lead person and walk through the house, going over each window. This is your chance to catch any errors the window company may have made in ordering your windows.
  2. If this is a multi-person crew, one set of installers will bring in windows as another set of installers removes windows.
    Walk through the house on your own to ensure that the installers have laid down drop cloths to your satisfaction.
  3. Add drop cloths outside if you have flower beds that you wish to preserve. Inside, dust barriers might be set up, but this is not really necessary, as window installation does not create much dust.
  4. As removal continues, installation proceeds. Ropes for the window sash weights are cut. Weights drop to the bottom of the window pocket. New windows are set in place and leveled with shims. With the window level, it is nailed into place.
  5. As installers periodically move old windows outside, the stack of old windows grows. If you are saving the windows for yourself, it's a good idea to periodically move them away to give the installers room to work.
  6. The installers are now fully engaged in removing and replacing windows. There is little need for supervision, but it is always a good idea to touch base with the project lead person.
  7. Depending on the size of the installation crew, by the end of the day, you might expect 12 to 15 windows to be removed and replaced. You do not want any windows to be boarded over. Request that each window space is replaced with a new window or left in place with the old window.
  8. No tools should be left in your house. Rooms are broom-clean. Old windows outside are removed.

Window Replacement: Second Day

Many window installation projects can be completed in one day. If not, work may spill over to a second day. In most average-sized houses, the second day concludes the window installation process, with little need for a third or subsequent day of work.

  1. Installers arrive early and continue removing and installing windows.
  2. When the removal team is finished, they begin installing exterior trim on your windows. This exterior trim, or cladding, provides a tight seal against the weather. Depending on your contract, this service may be optional.
  3. House is broom-cleaned and windows are tested by opening and closing them.
  4. Often, labels are left on the windows since they contain warranty information. If the crew does remove the labels for you, ask them to save the labels for you.
  5. If the window replacement process does extend into a third day, the reason may be to finish installing the exterior cladding. You will not need to be present for exterior work, though if you have the time available, it is always a good idea to be around.