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Old 01-30-2012, 10:20 PM   #1
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Replacement windows worth it?


I have a house that was built in the 50's and I've been scraping the interior of my wood windows and repainting. During this process I've realized I probably have some work to do to the outside next summer. I'm debating if it's worth my time repairing my existing wood windows with storm windows with replacement vinyl windows. I haven't done much research, but I'd go with low e argon filled glass. How much savings have people realized in replacement windows? I live in Wisconsin so I have a wide range of temperatures.

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Old 01-31-2012, 06:35 AM   #2
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Replacement windows worth it?


Depends on a myriad of factors:
  • Do you like the look of the wood windows
  • Do the storms seal tightly and work well
  • Are the wood exteriors beginning to rot and require regular repair work
As a general rule, replacing a single pane/storm window (assuming they function and seal properly) with a newer double pane sealed IGU with low-e/argon will have a long term payback (i.e. 10+ years). That being said, most storms don't work that well and customers are considering replacement windows for other reasons (maintenance, ease of cleaning, aesthetic improvements, etc).


From purely a ROI standpoint on the energy, there are a whole host of other things that you can do to the home that will pay themselves back exponentially faster so I would look there if that was your rationale.


The more you can tell me about your reasoning, the more I can recommend the right course of action.


Where in WI are you located?

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Old 01-31-2012, 07:23 AM   #3
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Replacement windows worth it?


All good points to consider. In general, if the existing frames are solid, no rot, replacement windows are considerably less expensive(less labor than new construction windows). Avoid big box cheapy windows!!! If some one says they can replace your windows for $100 ea, RUN away!!!!

There are other types besides white vinyl, so look around. Definitely consider high efficiency glass options.
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Old 01-31-2012, 07:47 AM   #4
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Replacement windows worth it?


Do not call Sears, Home Depot, Lowes for quotes unless you get a kick out of being sticker shocked. There pricing in most cases is double or more then the prices I've been quoting for the same size and style window.
Installing a replacement window only requires simple hand tools and there DIY 101 to install.
Every window company has differant grades of windows they make so watch out for the low ball price, make sure it's apples to apples.
I use Simonton or Wincor windows and have never had a call back for air leaks or fogged up windows.
Once there in you should notice a big differance in lower outside sound, the roof will feel warmer because there's no more leaking air.
If you take the time to remove the old casing and remove the window weights (if you have them) and fill that big hole with fiberglass insulation you will get much better results.
If you also have someone come in and wrap the window frames on the out side there will be zero maintince on that whole window unit.
In about the time it takes you to sand, scrape, prime, reglaze and paint one window, someone could have install all new windows.
I know in my house the heating bill went down 25% by just replacing the windows.
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Old 01-31-2012, 07:57 AM   #5
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Replacement windows worth it?


I live north of milwaukee. The storms look like they are in decent shape, but what should I look for? I know they need weatherstripping. Outside appearance with storms isn't great but tolerable. I don't believe the storms are coated glass, but I am unsure how to check. The windows do lock tight. They don't block much noise. They springs instead of weights on the side.

My gas bill for last month was $100. We do have a gas hot water heater and stove to. The house is 1385 sq ft.

The attic has a decent amount of insulation. Seems like two layers of rolled insulation. I don't have ice on my roof like my neighbor at least. My outlets all do have foam behind them. I do have one door that is bad. A chunk of the frame is missing so it just needs replacing. I plan on doing that next spring. What else should I look at? Do people recommend paying for a home energy audit or just buying one of those laser thermometers?
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Old 01-31-2012, 08:04 AM   #6
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Replacement windows worth it?


Your payback on replacing your windows could be considerably sooner than 10 years. Older, non-thermal windows are the largest source of heat loss in a house by a wide margin (assuming the house is properly insulated and has no egregious air leaks). The triple track add-on storm windows are virtually worthless in terms of insulation and are no comparison to modern thermal windows.

As Joe mentioned it's not that hard and in terms of labor it's far more efficient to replace then to renovate. It's even faster if you don't try and save and reuse your interior trim. In a 50's house it's probably not that unique/unusual either. I would just rip it off and replace with new.

There are a zillion web tutorials, video and step-by-step, on the process for installing replacement windows.

And yeah, don't have the big boxes install your windows.
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Old 01-31-2012, 08:56 AM   #7
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Replacement windows worth it?


I was going to install them myself. I usually just take my time and figure things out and it eventually gets quicker to do. What brands would people recommend? Are the American craftsman 8500 with low e glass any good?
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Old 02-01-2012, 12:13 PM   #8
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Replacement windows worth it?


@bryanp22 American craftsman makes several series of windows. The higher the series the more bells and whistles. What part of the country are u in....that can play into what u really need
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Old 02-01-2012, 04:04 PM   #9
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Nothing by that company is very good imo. If you are looking at buying from a box store, the upper end Simontons at HD are about the best you'll get, although purchasing through a supply house or cash and carry from a window dealer will make higher quality products available. In vinyl, Softlite, Okna, Gorell, and Sunrise are pretty much the cream of the crop. Simonton and PlyGem premium are solid mid-range options.
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Old 02-02-2012, 09:36 AM   #10
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Replacement windows worth it?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Ironlight View Post
Older, non-thermal windows are the largest source of heat loss in a house by a wide margin (assuming the house is properly insulated and has no egregious air leaks)
I'd add that this statement is not true in most cases. Very few homes are properly insulated and air sealed. Not to say that windows are not a wise investment, certainly they can be, but when it comes to bang for the buck in pure energy savings, the vast majority of homes have other areas to address first.
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Old 02-02-2012, 09:14 PM   #11
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Replacement windows worth it?


We replaced 50's era aluminum frame casements (with aluminum framed storms) with vinyl replacements about 7-8 years ago. I don't think the heating bill went down that much, but the house is much more comfortable; less drafts and no ice cold window frames.
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Old 02-02-2012, 09:38 PM   #12
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Replacement windows worth it?


Just to add..... With a house that age, take a look at the EPA regulations on lead paint and RRP. Believe in this or not, it's still good practice to keep things clean. A simple test kit will be a good investment.

Keep in mind, any company installing windows on pre-1978 homes must be properly licensed and trained with the EPA reg's.
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Old 02-03-2012, 11:45 AM   #13
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Replacement windows worth it?


Only thing to add to MJW's post is to check with your individual state to see if the cheap test kits that you can buy are valid. Here in WI , they are not.
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Old 02-06-2012, 09:13 AM   #14
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Replacement windows worth it?


What are people's experiences with replacement windows when the original window frame remains compared to replacing the whole window and frame? As long as the replacement window is installed and caulked properly is it almost as efficient as a whole new window frame?
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Old 02-06-2012, 10:06 AM   #15
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Replacement windows worth it?


Yes and no.

Air tightness can be the same, however, the thermal performance of that opening (i.e. window and wall around it) will not be the same if you have something like a steel pan window.

If it is just a wood pocket window, the performance can be made near identical with inserts vs. full tear outs.

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