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Repairing Windows vs. Replacing Windows Deciding the Best Option is Not Easy

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By : Justin Howe    99 or more times read
There comes a time in every window's life when it must be repaired or replaced. There are many different reasons to repair or replace windows, the trick is deciding which is the best option for you. If you are looking for more energy efficient, high performance windows, replacing will win out over repairing. Even if you need just a minor repair you should review your options and determine if replacing the window might be more beneficial than a repair in the long run. The following information weighs the options for repairing or replacing a window for two major window issues: replacing glass and replacing a window sash.

Replacing Glass

There are usually two reasons to need to replace glass in a window. 1. The glass is broken. 2. The insulated glass seal has failed and the window is fogging. In either case, a new piece of glass can usually be ordered and installed into the old window to fix the problem. If it is a wood window, replacing the glass will require more work, and will cost more. Vinyl or aluminum frame windows normally have a glass stop that is easily removed so the glass can be replaced. In some cases with broken glass, old windows may not be cost effective to repair and you might be better off replacing the window unit.

If the glass is fogging because the seal has failed, the entire insulated glass will need to be replaced to fix the problem. One thing to consider if the seal has failed in one window, it may not be long before other windows start to fail as well. If your windows have reached this point, you might consider replacing the windows with newer, more energy efficient windows. A new piece of glass installed in the windows can run you between $100-$300 for materials and labor. A new replacement window will cost between $300-$700 installed.

While there is a significant difference in these two prices, the window replacement will have a longer life and provide you a more energy efficient window. In addition, with the energy savings of new replacement windows, you will recoup the additional costs incurred to replace instead of repair.

Window Sash Replacement

When wood windows get older they become inefficient, drafty, and hard to operate, or the old wooden sashes begin to rot because of poor maintenance and need to be removed, even though the window frame is still in good shape. Sometimes a window sash replacement can help cure this problem by inserting new sashes into the existing window frames of the house. Several manufacturers offer sash replacement kits that provide new sashes and tracks to be installed into the old window opening. The tracks are screwed into the old frames and the sashes are mounted inside the new tracks. The process provides new sashes that are in good shape and are more energy efficient than the old sashes in the opening.

While this process may save material costs on the windows (not having to pay for a brand new window), it can be a labor intensive process, which will add to the bottom line costs. In addition, this process must be done correctly or the new sash replacement kit will not function properly which could lead to future performance and weatherproofing problems.

Old wood windows can have full frame replacements without removing the old frame or interior/exterior trim using a pocket window replacement. A pocket window replacement is performed by removing the old window sashes and stops and sliding a new window inside the pocket left behind by the old window. The window is then trimmed around the edges and sealed tight to guarantee a leak free installation. The benefit to a pocket replacement, in lieu of a sash replacement kit, is that the window is manufactured and tested at the factory so you know it is airtight, watertight, and energy efficient. By sliding the new window inside the existing opening, you are letting the window manufacturer worry about it keeping out the elements.

The window sash replacement will run you about the same as what you will pay for a new window by the time you factor in installation costs etc. so it can be a wash between the two options. If you get a low price for a window sash replacement, you should make sure the installer understands the amount of work required and that installing the kits correctly is the most important thing about the project.

The Choice is Yours

Ultimately the decision to repair or replace a window is yours to make. Generally a replacement window is going to cost more than a simple repair to an existing window, but the long term benefits of a new window can surpass the benefit of just a "band aid" on an old one. There are also many more companies equipped to provide a replacement window installation than there are to perform a quality window repair. While you may save on the costs to fix a window, you might spend a lot of time trying to find the right person to perform the repair. The bottom line is this: when you are considering a window repair, you should also consider replacing the window for the long term benefits that it can provide.
Justin M. Howe
The Window Replacement Experts
San Antonio Windows
11765 West Ave. #127
San Antonio, TX 78216
Your San Antonio Window and Door Experts

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