How Do You Know When You Need to Replace Your Windows?

A man replacing windows in a house.

Here are five signs that it’s time to swap out your old windows with newer, better models.

When it comes to home improvement jobs, you may be tempted to think, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” But that phrase definitely doesn’t apply to windows.

In fact, there are lots of good reasons to replace your windows (yes, even if the glass is still intact), which range from upgrading the look of your house to improving the energy efficiency of your home. So how do you know when it’s time to purchase replacement windows? Here are five things to look for.

1. The frame is cracked.

While it may be possible to repair small cracks in a frame, windows that have larger cracks — as well as windows that are starting to warp — likely have structural problems and may need to be replaced. Even subtler problems, like soft spots on the frame, could indicate wood rot or pest damage.  

2. You can feel a draft.

If you feel cold air whenever you pass your windows, there may be an air leak in them — something that is likely causing your energy bill to climb. While you might be able to seal up the leak with caulking or weather-strips, you may want to upgrade your windows to energy-efficient models. 

Windows account for about 25% to 30% of the energy loss in a home, according to, an organization that’s run by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Energy-efficient windows, however, are better at regulating your home’s internal temperature — so more cool air will stay indoors during the summer and more warm air will stay inside during the winter. 

By replacing old windows with ENERGY STAR-certified windows (which meet certain standards set by the EPA), it’s possible to lower your energy bills by an average of 12%, according to

3. Your home is too noisy.

If you live near a major highway, flight path, or concert venue, you may want to invest in noise-reducing (also called “soundproof) windows. One way to do this is by purchasing windows that contain multiple panes of glass, such as double- or triple-pane windows, which are better at blocking out noise than single-pane windows.  

Making sure your windows are installed properly — for example, by hiring a professional window installer — can also help ensure that there are no air gaps around them.

4. Your windows are too hard to clean.

Some older window models — such as single-hung style windows — are fixed in place, which makes them difficult to clean. If your home has fixed windows, particularly on an upper floor, you may be tired of calling a professional window cleaning service or climbing onto a ladder to wash the glass panes yourself. 

If this is the case, you may want to upgrade to a newer, double-hung window. Double-hung windows can tilt inwards, so they can be cleaned from the inside of the house. 

5. Your home looks outdated.

Getting ready to sell your home? New vinyl windows are the second most appealing home improvement projects to homebuyers, according to a 2019 survey by the National Association of Realtors. About 12% of realtors have told a homeowner to complete their new vinyl window installations in their home, while 4% of realtors said the project helped close the sale. 

Not only are new windows a practical upgrade, but just like a new shade of paint, new windows can instantly boost the curb appeal of your house. Sleek, black windows can add a modern, industrial look to an exterior, whereas a natural wood accent lends a warm, bohemian feel. 

You can also change the style of the window — for example, by swapping out a single-hung window for a more contemporary casement or picture window. 

And there you have it – five things to look for if you’re considering replacing your windows. Whether you’re looking to give your home an updated look or want to save some money and help the environment at the same time, replacing your windows can be beneficial in the long run for both you and your home.

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