When Should Windows Be Replaced Rather Than Repaired?

Window Replacement
Window Replacement. Getty / Arnt Haug / LOOK-foto

Increasingly, homeowners are choosing to replace their current wood frame windows with new vinyl, fiberglass, wood, or metal options rather than repairing their existing windows.

Improved Window Materials

The main reason for this shifting trend, particularly over the last two decades, is the vast improvement in the manufacturing techniques of mass-produced vinyl and fiberglass framed window options, resulting in lower prices being passed on to the consumer.

Replacements Can Be Eco-Friendly, Budget-Friendly

As a new generation of young homeowners have moved into the market, with their knowledge of and interest in the availability of energy-efficient building materials, there has also been a soaring interest in replacing leaky, drafty single-paned products with double paned Energy Star rated windows.

Regardless of whether one lives in the plains of Minnesota or in air-conditioned South Florida, double-paned windows are now the standard for replacement windows.

It also doesn't hurt to have a cheap workforce of window installers available, ranging from Angie’s List to Craigslist, rather than having to hire more expensive professionals from Pella, Andersen or Marvin.

Despite the greater availability of replacement window options in today’s market, many homeowners with older windows are interested in repairing, rather than replacing. Although financial savings always top the list for the do-it-yourselfers, many homeowners are also committed to reducing their environmental footprint and either re-using or at least repairing with “greener” components.

7 Factors That Determine Replacement Over Repair

However, when determining the cost-benefit ratio between purchasing replacement windows versus repairing existing wood-frame windows, you will need to consider the following factors:

  1. Cracked or broken glass (Safety as well as visual acuity).
  2. Rotting or split muntins, (The vertical pieces of wood separating panes of glass).
  1. Upper or lower sashes which are unable to move (From layers of paint, coming off-track, or broken or nailed cords on sash weights).
  2. Missing or rotting drip (The exterior "shield" above the top of the window).
  3. Loose, cracked, rotting, or missing exterior casing (trim).
  4. Missing or brittle putty holding glass panes to the muntins.
  5. Excessive water infiltration.

If your windows have three of more of the problems listed in this replacement window checklist, it is likely time to replace rather than repair.