How to Tell If Your Windows Need Replacement

Tips to Determine When It’s Time to Get Replacement Windows

Not sure if the current windows in your home need to be replaced? Sometimes it can be hard to tell, but other times the signs are undeniable.

It’s important for homeowners to know what to look for and understand how long their windows are supposed to last.

Here are some tips to help you determine if it’s time for replacement windows, including the signs that your windows need an upgrade, and why you should contact the window repair professionals before winter hits.

How Often Should You Replace Your Windows?

If your home is over 20 years old and still has its original windows, then your windows likely need replacement. Many factors can shorten a window’s function and quality, with age being a significant factor.

Here’s a look at the average lifespan of the following windows:

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  • Aluminum – 20 to 30 years
  • Fiberglass – 20 to 40 years
  • Insulated (double pane) – 10 to 20 years
  • Skylights – 10 to 20 years
  • Vinyl – 20 to 40 years
  • Wood – 30+ years


What Alters the Lifespan of Windows?

Where your windows are located on your home and how you care for your windows will affect their lifespan. You can help extend your windows’ lifespan with proper maintenance and repairs. You’ll also need to take steps to better insulate your windows when they’re around 15 to 20 years old, depending on the window type.

The following are some of the major culprits that can reduce the lifespan of your windows:

Pressure Washing

If you pressure wash the exterior of your home, avoid washing your windows. Pressure washing can break the seal between the glass and frame of windows, even on new windows.

And for windows that are insulated with inert gases between panes, the broken seal will let the gases leak out, reducing insulation and causing condensation buildup between panes (eventually looking cloudy or foggy).

Direct Rain and Sunlight

Windows in direct sunlight experience thermal flexing hot/cold cycles that can lead to loss of insulating gas and condensation buildup. And direct exposure to both rain and sun can reduce the lifespan of windows—this is especially true for skylight windows with no protection.


Frequent exposure to water from landscape sprinklers will reduce the lifespan of windows, especially windows with wood frames. So if you use sprinklers on your lawn in the summer, make sure the water doesn’t reach your windows.

Poor Installation

If windows are poorly installed, they will become a challenge to open and close. And the quality of the opening mechanism (e.g. crank) will also affect the function and lifespan of a window.

As you continue to open and close your windows, the window mechanisms will wear out, and stress will be added to poorly-installed windows, making them even more difficult to use.

Structural Settlement

Buildings settle over time. And the structural settlement of buildings can also place stress on windows, reducing their lifespans. But window replacement professionals can install new windows, keeping building settlement in mind and minimizing the effects on your windows.

How to Tell If Your Windows Need to Be Replaced

There are many telltale signs that windows are old, deteriorated, or damaged and in dire need of replacement. To inspect your windows thoroughly, move any window coverings so you can have a clear view of the areas around your windows as well.

Here are some of the many telltale signs your windows need replacement:

Energy Bills Are High

Old, damaged windows make home heating and air conditioning systems work harder. As a result, you’ll have higher energy bills, especially during the coldest and hottest times of the year.

In summer, hot outdoor air can get in through leaky windows, and the cold conditioned air will leak out. In winter, you’ll lose heat to the outdoors, and feel chilly drafts near your windows.

If you notice your energy bills increasing each year, your windows are probably wearing out and in need of replacement.

Windows Don’t Open/Close Properly or All the Way

Are any of your windows a challenge to operate? Windows can warp over time, making them difficult to open and close or keep open. These can pose a safety hazard, especially if they are hard to open. And you should never have to strain yourself to open a window.

Leaky Windows

Stand by your windows. Do you feel cold air coming in? If so, then your windows are leaky and letting in outdoor air. And if water leaks from your windows on rainy days, then you definitely have a problem. Water stains and mold around your windows are another sign of leaks.

Replace leaky windows as soon as possible to reduce energy consumption and costly water damage.

Decaying or Damaged Frames

Exposure to moisture over time can cause window frames to warp and rot. Not only does decay diminish a window’s insulation and energy-efficiency, but it also makes windows prone to further damage and mold growth.

Decayed or damaged (e.g. cracked) frames can let the outdoor air and water in, the indoor air out, and reduce the security and air quality of your home.

To test if your window frames are decaying, check if they are soft instead of rigid.

Noise Level

If you can easily hear vehicles and people outside, your windows aren’t well-insulated. Quality energy-efficient windows will block outside noise, so your home will be more peaceful and comfortable.


While some condensation is normal on windows, moisture buildup between window panes means the seals are broken. And once the seals are broken, your windows will become leaky and look foggy/cloudy between the panes.

If your windows show any signs that they need replacement, consider replacing your windows before winter starts. There are many benefits to replacing your windows before winter, including:

  • Increased insulation—new energy-efficient windows have Low-E glass and argon gas insulating the windows;
  • Energy savings and cutting the costs of energy bills for heating in winter;
  • Reducing your carbon footprint by consuming less energy; and,
  • Improved home comfort.

For more information on window replacement in Ottawa, contact your local window repair professionals.

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