Windows – Replacement or New Construction?
“It’s always cold in my house during the winter! I need all new windows!” That may be true, however, let’s take a moment and consider the different options you have. First, we want to determine how the cold air is getting in and if in fact, the windows are to blame.
On a cold, windy night, go to each of your windows and feel around the window and the trim to see where you feel the cold air coming in. This will tell you what type of window you need to install to eliminate the cold air from getting in. If you feel cold air coming in around the window sashes, it is more than likely that the panes have been compromised. Seals on windows do fail.
If you get 20+ years out of your windows, consider yourself lucky! This is actually the best case scenario though. Your windows can be replaced with a replacement window. These windows cost less than a new construction window and is less expensive to install. Your existing window sashes are removed and a new unit is installed in the opening. With a little foam spray around them and some new interior stops (basically a trim piece that is installed so you do not see the edges of the new window or the foam insulation) and you have a tight seal that will keep the cold air out. One thing to keep in mind, you will lose a little natural light as the window sashes will inevitably be smaller than the ones you have now when you figure in the new window frame has to fit into that opening.
If you feel the cold air coming in around the trim of the window, this is a more extensive window replacement. The fact that you are getting cold air in around the window itself means you have no insulation around the existing window. If you were to take the interior trim off, you will more than likely see the framing for the window opening and a gap between the stud and the window. So nothing is keeping the cold air out.
If your windows are relatively new and you do not want to replace them, you can add some spray foam insulation or fiberglass batt insulation in the gaps, then re-install the trim. If your windows are older and need to be replaced, you will want to have new construction windows installed. As I mentioned earlier, this is a more expensive window and more labor intensive. The interior and exterior trim will need to be removed first. Then the entire window will wibe removed. A new construction window will be installed in the opening, spray foamed around the edges and new trim installed.
The best thing about new construction windows is they have a flange on the exterior so your installer can flash tape the flange to your outside sheathing so no water or cold air can invade your home. New construction windows are always a good thought if you are having the exterior of your house re-done. While everything is off the side of your house, it is easier to install new construction windows.
So the next time you are sitting on the couch and you feel the cold air coming in, feel around the window to determine how the cold air is getting in. Or, through on an extra blanket and deal with it next year!