Educating myself on replacing windows

thebigadMarch 27, 2012

We just moved into a renovated ranch. It has single pane windows all over, except the sunroom which was recently added. I don't have a clue as to what is involved in replacing windows, what to look for, options to consider, etc.

Can anyone point me to some resources?


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You are in a fine place to start:). Read through past posts and you'll pick up good info. There are other window forums that offer good content as well. Once you've built up some ideas on what you are looking for, then ask some specific questions... Another route would be to call out a couple window companies for estimates, just beware that some can be rather pushy.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 4:14PM
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Windows on Washington Ltd

Post up some pictures as well and you will get more directed feedback.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 5:23PM
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Will do. Here's a basic question -- Is it true that replacing a single pane window with a newer window will not make much of a difference in energy savings?

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 9:37AM
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Windows on Washington Ltd

Yes and no.

If the single pane has a well functioning and sealed storm window to the exterior, the net change in U-Factor of that total opening is not so huge that there will be a massive change in efficiency.

Most people will consider a single pane with a storm window to be about a total U-Factor of about 0.6 - 0.5 (roughly R-2) whereas most newer windows can be about a U-Factor 0.3 as a minimum and can approach U-Factor of 0.20 (R-5) without exotic materials.

That doubling of R-Value at that relatively small area can have a modest impact but it is slight if you compare it to blowing in insulation in an entire attic (1,000 sq/ft).

All of that being said, the reality is that most older windows do not fit well or work effectively. They tend to leak a bunch of air and that improvement in air tightness can be a huge improvement in the overall comfort and efficiency of that opening.

Jeez...I am confused even writing this response but the answer is completely depends on your situation and current windows. If you deal with an ethical company, they will be able to identify the specifics of your situation and what might be proper. Windows could be as far down as 4th on the list of upgrades that your home needs for the sake of efficiency. Most times, air sealing and attic insulation are much more likely improvements prior to windows in terms of efficiency improvers.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 10:08AM
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That's a loaded question. If isolated to just that unit, it's not true, because it won't make an overall difference in the entire house. If you do all the windows in the house, it is categorically false. Of course the degree of energy savings will be dependent on many factors. How bad were the original windows? How cold/hot is the weather? Do the kids leave the door wide open in winter?

I have not only replaced windows in countless homes, I have replace them in my own homes. I can tell you from personal experience they save energy. The $ amount may not hasten your retirement, but in that one category of your finances where you pay a heating/cooling bill, those bills WILL be lower. However if you have an extremely mile winter with the old windows, and a colder winter with the new windows, you may not see a change in $ because of usage factors.

If your window is leaking air, if you can feel the cold coming in, obviously eliminating that is going to make your heating system run less. And don't forget the many other benefits like beauty, convenience, ease of operation, etc.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 10:12AM
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So -- one option is to put in a exterior storm window and leave the current window as-is? The old windows are OK. They go up and down. The problem is that they run on metal tracks, and the windows are not sealed completely along the tracks. So, bugs get in through the little crevices. Is there a way to seal the tracks to keep the bugs out?

Also, what do you mean by "air sealing"? I plan to add more insulation to the attic soon.


The original windows are not bad. I feel a draft from convection, but not around the edges. I'm in Atlanta. So, it gets pretty hot, but we had a mild winter this year. We keep doors/windows shut for the most part to conserve energy unless its a nice day.

What is your thought on adding an exterior storm window to the existing windows?

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 12:38PM
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Windows on Washington Ltd

A properly installed storm window (insulated and low-e equip) will likely give you the same level of performance as compared to and insulated unit.

What is will not give you is the most clean and seamless look.

There are other considerations when it comes to windows and the facelift of new windows can provide a tangible return on investment from a proper value improvement as well as a nice fresh look to the home.

If you ultimate driver is energy savings, a storm window and more retrofit/weatherization will give you a better bang for the renovation buck.

Here is a link that might be useful: Air Sealing Video

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 1:12PM
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I can see that storm windows may not look so great. I can also see that I could leave the window framework intact, but replace the window itself to retain the character of the old windows. Is this advisable?

Also, if I want to simply fix the crevices around the old window where the bugs are getting in, how do I do so? Some sort of weatherstripping?

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 1:21PM
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I was wondering if y'all had an opinion on this web site and its advice.

Here is a link that might be useful: Historic Wood Windows

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 1:27PM
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Windows on Washington Ltd

Most non-historic wood windows are not worth retrofitting.

The jamb liners are not designed to be serviceable as compared to the older units which can be re-tightened with newer fin weatherstripping and seals.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 1:38PM
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