Windows are a big deal when it comes to home renovation. They’re considered a high-value upgrade, improving both the curb appeal and energy efficiency of your home. Plus, a new set of windows can also help give you peace and quiet, and even cut the time you spend cleaning.
But windows aren’t cheap. According to Consumer Reports, a full replacement can run you anywhere from $8000 to $24,000, depending on the size of your home and the quality of your new windows. And though they might boost energy efficiency, it can take decades for those cost savings to catch up with the amount you spent on the renovation.
In many cases, fixing your windows is a far better investment than replacing them. But how do you know when to repair and when to replace? It depends on the extent of the damage.
When the seal around a window wears down, it causes you to lose heat during the winter and let warm air in during the summer. That bumps up your heating and cooling costs.
If drafts are your only issue, you can usually fix the problem without much trouble. Fill in cracks in the caulking using a caulk gun, sealing the gaps between the window molding and exterior of your house, and around the window trim inside. You can also replace worn-out weatherstripping on the exterior.
Drafty windows don’t do much damage, but moisture is another story. Moisture can cause the paint around the window to peel, crate streaks on the walls, and rot the wooden window frame over time.
If you can get to the problem before it damages the frame, you may not have to replace the window. But if the wood is rotting or saturated with moisture, you may need to have it re-installed and re-sealed. Try pushing the end of a flat-blade screwdriver into the frame – if you can push it in easily, there’s water damage.