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How Long Do Windows Last? A Homeowner’s Guide

how long do windows last

The Ancient Romans were the first to use glass for windows. Back then, glass wasn’t very clear or smooth, but it let light through and lasted a while, which was good enough for them. Today’s windows are quite different.

Have you ever wondered, “How long do windows last?” We have the answer! Read on to learn more about how long windows last and some signs yours may need replacing.

Types of Windows Available

There are several types of windows from which you can choose. Each one adds a different character to your home. 

Picture Windows

Picture windows come in many sizes. They provide a view of the outdoors but don’t usually open or close.

Casement Windows

These windows swing open—often by rotating a crank at the bottom. They provide excellent ventilation because the whole window opens up to the outside.

Awning Windows

These are similar to casement windows, except they open vertically instead of horizontally. They also provide excellent ventilation.

Single-Hung Windows

You’re probably familiar with these typical windows. They’re frequently used in bedrooms and bathrooms and slide up and down to open and close.

Horizontal Sliding Windows

Horizontal sliding windows are similar to single-hung windows but open to the side. They’re widespread and are often larger than single-hung windows, allowing for greater airflow.

Double-Hung Windows

These are a variant of the single-hung design. Both types look similar when closed, but with double-hung windows, both panes open up, allowing for greater airflow.

How Long Do Windows Last on Average?

The lifespan of windows depends on the type of windows, the climatic conditions in your area, and the quality of the initial installation. Generally, newly-installed windows will last a couple of decades. A lot will depend on the quality of installation, the type of windows you choose, and the weather in your area.

Throughout their lifetime they may need minor repairs. These include new caulking, insulation, and temporary fixes. Eventually, you’ll need to replace them entirely.

Signs You Need New Windows

There are several signs that your home windows need replacing. The urgency of the window replacement depends on how severe the signs are. However, when you start to see these signs, you should expect to have to replace your windows in the not-too-distant future.

The Glass Is Foggy

When you have double or triple-paned window glass, you might notice that one or more of the windowpanes is starting to fog up. Single-pane windows generally don’t do this.

Fogging occurs when condensation gets trapped between the panes. Most of the time, there’s a hole, crack, or another type of opening that might not be visible. If your home windows are double-paned and filled with gas, fogging could indicate the gas is leaking.

Typical double-paned windows without air-filling aren’t as efficient as those with it and often influence the temperature of a room.

The Frame Feels Soft

With wood-framed windows, weather and temperature fluctuations outside eventually lead to rot. Check the window sill to see if it feels soft or hard—it should feel hard. If there’s any softness, rot could be setting in.

When you notice chipping or gouges in your window frames, rot is often the cause.

Your Windows Get Stuck

New windows open and close with ease. But, over time, tiny gouges, grooves, and divots appear, especially with frequent use. The stress of opening and closing windows causes cracks in the frame as time goes by.

The need for repair depends greatly on how severe the damage is. If the sticking is significant and frequent, you should plan for replacement soon.

You Have Drafty Rooms

Quality windows only allow air to flow into specifically designed areas. The openings are highly dependent on the design of the window. If you feel a cold draft, your windows might need repair or replacement soon.

Sometimes, caulking and weatherstripping can fix the problem. Though these are temporary fixes, they can last a reasonable amount of time when done well. When you’ve repaired and maintained the windows, and a draft is still present, it’s time to replace them.

Your Energy Bills Are Going Up

A significant part of the recurring costs of home ownership is the heating and cooling bills. Suppose you notice your utility bills going up (usually due to rises in electricity usage during the summer for AC and gas usage during the winter for heating). In that case, there’s a good chance your windows are to blame.

If your home has old single-pane, drafty, or sticky windows, that is an even more significant indicator that they are the problem. Replacing windows with new, Energy Star-certified products might solve your problem. With increasing numbers of people going green, replacing windows allows you to do your part while upgrading your home at the same time.

Should You Retrofit or Replace?

You have two options when you notice that your home windows are causing issues: either retrofit or replace them. Numerous factors will influence your choice here. These include saving on energy costs, improving your comfort, and upgrading your insulation.

Depending on your budget and needs, you may choose to retrofit. It helps prolong the life of your windows while being less expensive than brand new window installation. If you live in an older home and want to preserve the traditional look and feel, retrofitting helps alleviate your issues while keeping the original design intact.

Retrofitting will increase the lifespan of windows—but not forever. Eventually, you’ll find yourself replacing windows in your home. The factor that deserves the most consideration is the up-front costs.

Investors often choose to retrofit the windows to increase their overall profits. But, some homeowners simply don’t have the money to pay for entirely new window installation – and that’s ok.

That being said, without a professional energy analysis, it’s difficult to tell whether retrofitting or replacing windows will benefit you more in the long run.

Do You Need New Windows?

Hopefully, this article has answered the question, “How long do windows last?” Home windows last a few decades on average with care, maintenance, and favorable weather conditions. Depending on your budget, you can retrofit them for longer life or choose to replace them altogether.

If you’d like to know more about how we can help you with your home windows, check out our services.


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