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The Scoop on When to Replace Historic Windows

By: Allison Millar, Contributing Writer
In: Product review
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I just came across a replacement window article that hit home with me. It’s all about adding replacement windows in historic houses. As one who has lived with old windows in several old houses, I know the window battle. It’s all about aesthetics (those great old wood windows….that leak like crazy) versus functionality (the new replacement windows that have a tight seal). What is a homeowner to do?

Replacement Windows: Now or Never!

To decide whether it’s time to add replacement windows, walk around on a cold, windy day. If you find places where air filters through and the temperature seems to drop by 20 degrees, it’s time to consider replacement windows.

Next, ask yourself how good the existing windows are. If they are solid wood and in good shape, it’s often worth keeping them and figuring out a way to improve the seal or repair the window stops. Otherwise, replacement windows can improve your comfort and boost your homes energy efficiency.

If you decide on replacement windows, ask your windows contractor for specific items in the remodeling quote, such as:

  • Window style
  • Number of panes of glass
  • Use of grids
  • Material. Wood windows with vinyl clad on the outside offers the best of both worlds.

What to Ask the Windows Contractor

Finally, read the quote from the windows contractor carefully to make sure it includes an explanation of the installation. Many old window openings are not perfectly plumb and level, so work often is needed to make the window fit. Is that included in the remodeling estimate?

And, of course, spend some time researching the contractor. You want someone who has experience with old houses and can work out the quirks in window sizing, etc. Here’s more from the Federal Trade Commission on finding the right contractor.

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