Consumer Reports – When to Consider Window Replacement

Window Replacement

Window Replacement Ellicott City, MD is an expensive home improvement project, and you want to get the best return on your investment. Follow Consumer Reports’ tips to save money and ensure your installation goes smoothly.

Getting multiple quotes is the best way to compare prices and services. Ask each company for a detailed price estimate including the window brand and model, number of windows, size and type, add-on features and labor and materials costs broken out separately.

The frame of a window includes the jambs, sill, and head — the vertical sections that create a rectangular opening for the window to be inserted. It also includes the casing, or decorative molding around the edge of the frame. The frame is secured to the wall with a nail or screw at each corner.

Wood frames are a popular option for their warm look and insulating properties. They can be stained or painted to refresh their appearance. However, wooden frames can rot or sag over time, and if the damage is extensive, a replacement is recommended.

To determine whether your existing frame is rotted or can be repaired, start by measuring the inside width of the window frame, from jamb to jamb, in three places: at the top, middle, and bottom of the frame. Then, record the smallest measurement.

If the frame is in good condition, the window can be replaced by simply inserting it into the empty slot. However, for a more secure and energy-efficient fit, the frame may need to be modified or repaired.

For example, you may need to add insulation or shims to ensure that the frame is plumb and level. You might also need to fill gaps or cracks, or add a door sweep and weather strip to prevent air leaks and water intrusion.

If the frame is in good shape, a professional installer can perform a partial or full-frame replacement, which limits disruption to your home exterior and interior trim. If the frame is damaged and beyond repair, your contractor can replace it with a new one, depending on the material type. Options include vinyl, fiberglass, or combination frames.


Keeping windows in good repair is not only a wise home improvement move that improves your house’s comfort and curb appeal, it helps you manage energy costs during the Western New York winter. But what are the signs that you should fix a window and when should you consider replacing it altogether?

The most glaring sign of window damage that warrants replacement is any cracked, chipped, or broken glass. Even minor breaks can compromise the function of your windows and exacerbate your energy bills.

Moisture issues typically show up as fogging between your double-pane windows. This happens when special seals fail to withstand the cycles of expansion and contraction that occur between glass panes. When a window’s seals break, they allow cold or hot air to escape and the argon or krypton gases that hold your windows together can escape as well. Adding or replacing caulk may help reduce rattling and drafts but it can’t replace the loss of insulating gas between glass panes.

Another indicator that you should replace a window is if the sashes don’t open at all. This could be due to wood rot, an indication that your windows are at risk of leaking or simply because the sashes and frames have become stuck together. To test whether a window is rotting, press the point of a screwdriver into suspected areas of rotted wood. If the screwdriver sinks in, you’re dealing with a water-related issue and should consult a professional right away.

A popular upgrade option is to swap out your sashes for insert windows that install directly into your existing window frames. They’re cheaper than full frame replacements but provide the same aesthetic and energy-efficiency benefits.


If your window replacement is going to involve removing and replacing the existing frame, it’s important that you have proper insulation installed around it. Insulation can help prevent drafts and moisture intrusion while adding to the overall aesthetic of your home.

The best type of insulation for a window replacement is spray foam. This insulation is reliable and can fit into the small cracks and crevices around your window that can otherwise cause leaks or rot.

Another way to tell if you need new insulation is if the existing caulking is starting to break down or crack. If this occurs, it’s a good idea to replace it as soon as possible so that it doesn’t create gaps or allow water to seep in.

In many cases, a cracked or rotting exterior casing is another sign that it’s time for window replacement. If left untreated, this issue can spread to other parts of the house and lead to costly structural damage as well as pest infestation.

A rattling sound while opening or closing your window could indicate that the seals are breaking down or have already broken completely. While repairing or replacing the seals can temporarily solve this problem, it’s usually more beneficial to replace your window entirely as it will be more effective at insulating and maintaining its structural integrity.

You can also try a DIY project to add more insulation to your windows by using plastic window insulation film. This is an easy-to-install option that can be bought at most hardware stores. Begin by placing double-sided tape all the way around your window, then wrap the film over it. You can then use a hair dryer to heat it up and make the film shrink so that it forms a tight seal.


The window seal is your first line of defense against draughts, cold air and moisture. It prevents costly heating losses that result in escalating power bills and it provides comfort for occupants. However window seals do not last forever and are expected to break down over time due to weather, age and normal wear and tear. This is when a new window seal replacement becomes a priority.

A broken window seal can cause fogging between the glass panes, escalating power bills and a less efficient home. However, a simple repair can save you money and improve the performance of your windows.

UPVC window seals are flexible and can compress to create an airtight barrier between the window panes and the frame. Over time, however, these flexible seals can lose their elasticity, leading to drafts, condensation and a decrease in energy efficiency. Window seals can be repaired or replaced, but if left untreated they will deteriorate and fail to perform.

Replacing window seals can be a tricky DIY project, especially if the old sealant is stubborn or has a brittle texture. Using heat guns or hair dryers to soften the sealant can make it easier to remove, but if this isn’t an option there are many products available from hardware stores that are specifically designed to remove window sealing.

Once the old sealant is removed, the gap between the window and the frame needs to be cleaned thoroughly with soapy water to ensure the surface is free from dirt and dust. This will give the new sealant a smoother application and help it adhere properly to the frame. If the gap is too large, the sealant may need to be reapplied or a new window frame installed.


The outer casing of a window is what keeps the elements from affecting its performance. If the exterior casing is damaged or rotting it’s probably time to consider replacement to prevent moisture intrusion and pest infestation. If the problem is widespread, you may need to replace exterior cladding and siding as well as the window.

Likewise, when the interior frame of a window is warped or rotted it’s best to replace it rather than attempt repairs. If the rot is extensive, it could cause water infiltration that leads to structural damage and mold.

Window frames can be made of wood, vinyl, or fiberglass. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. For example, wood is durable, but a lot of maintenance is required to keep it looking good. Vinyl is easier to maintain, but doesn’t last as long as wood or fiberglass. Fiberglass is a bit more expensive than either wood or vinyl, but it holds up better against moisture and insects.

Most windows are single- or double-hung. A single-hung window opens by sliding the upper sash downward, while a double-hung has a lower sash that slides upward. Both types have locking hardware that can be adjusted or replaced if it becomes sticky over time.

If you’re replacing a window in an existing frame, you might choose the pocket replacement option that fits inside the old frame and leaves the exterior sash and trim intact. It’s quicker and less costly than new-construction replacement windows, which require removing the existing window sill, studs, house sheathing, and siding to install the new window. However, Consumer Reports points out that a pocket replacement can leave air leakage in place if the wall framing is rotted or damaged.