Nothing is quite as frustrating as windows which don't function properly when you want to open them to let in fresh air or close them securely before bed or leaving the house. Nearly as bad is when you can feel a cold draft coming in during the winter months and realize you're also losing air conditioning during the summer. Although in some cases a window can be repaired, these types of problems usually indicate it's time to replace the windows with new ones.
The Charm of Antique Windows
The main reason for considering repairs over replacement is if your windows hold historic value. Even though such windows aren't going to be as efficient as new ones, it's reasonable for the homeowner to want to keep the windows as they provide part of the charm which is why people would buy an older home in the first place.
Signs a Window Isn't Working Properly
Beyond the obvious broken glass which can be replaced, there are common problems which come up with older windows. Depending on the design of the window, there is either a broken spring or cord leading to a counterweight if the window won't stay up. Another problem is when you have to shake or tap the window edges in order to get it to go up or down, or seems closed but the latch wont quite line up to lock it, which means it either has been painted too many times or it has come out of alignment as the house settles over time. The window can be removed and either reinstalled with proper alignment or stripped to the bare wood to start over with fresh paint, but those are intricate processes and often cost more than replacing them with new windows.
Features of New Windows
One of the most important features of double hung modern windows is how they tilt in to allow you to clean the outside from inside. This means you don't have to use a ladder and it makes cleaning easier since you clean both sides at the same time instead of going back and forth if you miss a spot thinking it's on the other side of the glass. A security feature prevents the windows from being opened from outside even when it's slightly open to let in a cool breeze. Beyond the basic features, there are different styles of windows which allow light into a bathroom without a line of sight, or emergency egress windows.
Determining When You Need New Windows
There are a few situations which make it clear that you need new windows. If you can't open the window it's time for a replacement, or if it won't stay open unless you prop it up with a stick. Likewise, if your means of securing the window is to use a stick to jam it shut because the lock won't close, it's time to consider new windows. Further, you'll likely want to replace at least all the windows on that side of the house to make sure they match.
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