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Tips & Advice

8 min read

When is it time to replace windows at home? 10 useful tips

Written by

Kacper Szczypek

Reading Time: 8 minutes

Have you owned your home for quite a while and haven’t replaced old windows yet? That may affect your and your family’s quality of life. The lifespan of windows made from various materials is different, nevertheless, sooner or later, all old windows need replacement. Replacing your windows can improve your comfort, reduce your energy bills and add value to your property. Are you wondering when to replace windows in your house?

Below, we discuss 10 signs indicating that you shouldn’t put windows replacement off any longer.

Window lifespan

Before we focus on the actual signs, let’s discuss window lifespan. It is a period of time when windows are expected to maintain their original properties, especially in terms of thermal insulation, considered as one of the most important factors in selecting new windows. The average lifespan of residential windows is 15 to 20 years. Well-maintained joinery may last beyond the 20-year mark, but once your windows start approaching two decades old, it’s time to give them a closer look. And then, if necessary, plan their replacement.

As we have already mentioned, different materials offer different durability, which translates into window lifespan. For example, uPVC windows lifespan is estimated for 20 years (some manufacturers state it is 30 years, but our experience tells us this estimation is exaggerated), whereas timber windows are expected to hold their excellent properties for 30 years and more. The lifespan of windows is dramatically affected by both maintenance and the location of your property. For this reason, we do not consider the age of windows as the main indicator for their replacement. What we consider as the main indicator is their condition.

When considering the best time to replace windows, it’s essential to understand that window replacement time varies based on several factors. It’s not only the age or visible damages that dictate when to replace windows in a home; factors like energy efficiency, sound insulation, and overall functionality play crucial roles. First-time home buyers, in particular, should be aware of window replacement needs, as older homes might need window updates sooner.

 

How do you know when it’s time to replace windows?

It is hard to give a definite answer to the question of how often windows should be replaced. In some cases, windows lose their properties after only 10 years of usage, in others they can be operated much longer, even far beyond their average lifespan. So, how to recognize the moment when windows need to be replaced?

Age of the windows

How do I know when my uPVC windows need replacing? As we mentioned before, once windows start approaching a certain age, it is time to take a good look at them. In case of uPVC windows, that would be between 15 and 20-year markers, when the windows start losing their properties and appearances. Old uPVC windows also become more difficult to keep clean. The material changes colour due to long-term exposure to various weather conditions and other external factors, and even freshly cleaned frames look dirty and neglected.

Condition of the windows

Windows degrade with time. How fast they do depends on several factors, such as:

  • how well they are maintained,
  • what weather they have to withstand,
  • what material they were made from.

Our experience tells us that timber windows are the most tricky to keep in good condition. They require regular maintenance, especially if they are exposed to a lot of rain and humidity. When you notice any signs of rot or warping on your timber windows or that the double glazing is failing (e.g. issues with the condensation inside the glazing unit, damaged gaskets around the glazing unit, window fittings which are difficult to operate or do not work properly), it’s time to replace old windows with their new counterparts. In this case, you may go for modern wooden windows or aluminium ones. New uPVC windows are also a worthwhile consideration.

uPVC windows are by far the easiest to maintain. They require very little attention and are easy to keep clean. Unfortunately, if the material isn’t the best quality, uPVC windows may discolour over time. They can also become warped, making it difficult to open and close the window (lack of regulation / service).

Failing double glazing

Knowing when to replace windows is crucial, especially in older houses. If you’re a first-time home buyer, understanding window replacement time can help you budget for potential upgrades. The best time to buy replacement windows often coincides with renovation plans or with the time, when noticeable issues with window functionality arise.

The average double glazing lifespan is between 20 and 25 years. Over time, double glazing may start failing. If it’s happening, you will notice water leaks, condensation, cracks, chips, holes, broken, damaged gaskets around the glazing unit. With failing double glazing, it is also difficult to regulate the temperature in your home.

No double glazing

Have you just bought an old house? Have a close look at your windows. Windows for old houses usually consist of a single pane rather than double-pane glass. That makes them very inconvenient as well as inefficient. Even if the condition of such windows can be assessed as good, we highly recommend replacing them.

Are you wondering what to expect when replacing windows in an old property for double glazing units? Double glazing helps to keep the temperature inside on a desired level. The room doesn’t get too cold in winter or too hot when the sun is out. The windows are also more efficient in terms of thermal and sound insulation. Focus on the U-value (Uw) parameter, which says how warm the window is. The lower the value is, the warmer the window.

Visible damages

Visible damage (e.g. a broken window pane) is probably the most obvious sign that you need to replace your windows. When a window is damaged, the interior is no longer protected from weather conditions, pests, and intruders.

Not all damages qualify the window for a replacement. Nevertheless, in case of old damaged windows, their repair won’t probably be cost-efficient.

Condensation forms on the inside of the windows

Condensation forming between the panes of double or triple-pane windows is a sign that the airtight seal has failed and the insulating gas has escaped. The window lost its properties and it (or – if it’s possible just a glazing unit) should be replaced.

There is no reason to worry when condensation forms on the outside of the window. It just means that it is warmer and more humid outside than it is inside. You may observe such a phenomenon, especially in the rooms that are usually kept at lower temperature.

Significant rise of energy bills

Old or inefficient windows can have a significant impact on your home’s thermal insulation and, in the result, lead to high energy bills. The more heat is able to escape your home through the window (pane and frame), the more you will use your central heating to compensate.

The easiest way to check the thermal efficiency of your old windows is to stand next to them. If it feels cooler than in the rest of the room, it means the window is no longer tight and thus, it becomes inefficient in terms of thermal insulation. What is more, lack of tightness translates into poorer sound insulation.

 

Your interiors are loud

Lack of sound insulation is one of the possible answers to the following question: when should windows be replaced in a home? Modern windows are designed to reduce sound transfer, which makes a huge difference to your quality of life, especially if you live close to a busy road or a sports centre.

If you can clearly hear noise from the outside when the window is shut, this probably means your window is quite old and has lost all its original properties over time. People living in quiet and peaceful parts of the country seldom notice the problem and are more likely to observe issues with thermal insulation.

Windows are draughty

When the window is warped, it may not open or close properly. That’s the time when drafts can occur and affect your energy bills. Another reason behind draughty windows are malfunctioning locking mechanisms (fittings are not regulated or damaged, seals around the sash are old and do not stick to the frame properly). When the window doesn’t open or close as it should, not only your energy bill is at stake, but also your safety. Such windows are easier to pry open by potential intruders.

Windows are difficult to open and close

Your windows should operate smoothly. Any difficulties in opening or closing the window should be considered as a sign to replace it. There are plenty of reasons why the window has become very difficult or impossible to open. Some originate from ill maintenance, others from the fact that the window is old and worn out.

Usually, the window doesn’t open or close easily when it’s warped, or fittings or handles are broken. Warping can be caused by weather conditions, movements of the building, or simply the selection of the wrong size for the opening.

In summary, when do uPVC windows need replacing, or when do windows need replacing in general? It’s a question with multiple answers, depending on the specific situation of each home. Regular assessments are a key to determining the right time for window replacement, ensuring that you maintain the comfort, energy efficiency, and security of your home.

 

What to know when replacing windows?

Not all the problems we experience with our windows qualify them for replacement. A lot of issues can be fixed without the necessity of installing new windows. Nevertheless, as far as old windows are concerned, it’s better to replace them rather than trying to fix them. Fixtures are never as efficient as new windows and in case of old windows, they are likely to give only a short-term effect. For this reason, we pay twice – for fixtures and new windows.

FAQs

When should I know it’s time to replace my windows?

It’s time to replace your windows when you notice signs like difficulty in opening or closing, visible damage, increased energy bills, draughts, or sound insulation issues. Regular inspection is crucial, especially for windows approaching or exceeding 20 years of age. Additionally, if you experience frequent condensation between panes or notice a significant decline in the aesthetic appeal of your windows, it may be time to consider window replacement in your home.

Is it worth replacing 20-year-old windows?

Yes, it is often worth replacing 20-year-old windows. Windows that age may start losing their efficiency in terms of insulation and functionality. New, energy-efficient windows can improve thermal and sound insulation, reduce energy costs, and enhance the overall aesthetics of your home. Furthermore, replacing older windows can also contribute to increased property value and offer better security features, making it a beneficial long-term investment for homeowners.

What is the average age to replace windows?

The average age to replace windows is between 15 and 30 years. This lifespan varies depending on the material, quality, maintenance, and environmental factors. However, it’s important to assess window condition regularly, as some may need replacement sooner. Keep in mind that technological advancements in window design and materials can also influence the decision to replace windows earlier, especially if improved energy efficiency and functionality are desired.

Why would I need to replace my windows?

Replacing windows is often necessary due to several reasons: deterioration in energy efficiency, leading to higher heating or cooling costs; visible damages like cracks or warping; issues with functionality, such as difficulty in opening or closing; and poor sound insulation. Additionally, replacing old windows with modern, energy-efficient ones can enhance the aesthetic appeal and increase the value of your home. Upgrading your windows can also address specific needs such as UV protection, enhanced security, or compatibility with smart home systems, further justifying the replacement.

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