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Top 8 Answers to the Questions You Never Knew to Ask About Home Window Replacement

a window professional using a drill to install a new window

Do your windows only have one pane? Maybe the glass is cracked. Or perhaps you just get super cold in the winter from a draft near your picture window. But how do you know when it's time to replace windows, and even if you do, what kind is best for your home?

We spoke with Craig Diamond of Diamond Home Service to find out the answers to important home window replacement questions you may be wondering and some you may have never thought to ask.

Craig is third-generation home remodeling professional, whose family business in Chicago, Illinois, has been helping homeowners to replace their windows since 1967. 

Q1: How can I decide between window replacement and repair? 

Your cat knows single-pane windows need to be replaced.

CD: When it comes to replacement, one sign is the windows just aren't functioning properly. Either they have a broken lock or broken lift rail, or even a broken screen – it would be time to start looking into new windows.

Two, seal failure. That's when air gets between the double pane glass system and creates a fog or condensation, and that means the seals of the window have failed.

Three, age of window. If they're old and drafty and they're not doing the job you think they should, it's time to look into some new insulated-glass windows.

Q2: How can I ensure full efficiency of my replacement windows?

Are your windows energy efficient?

CD: For energy efficiency, you want a window with low-E glass (low emissivity) that is made from a reputable manufacturer. It should also be backed with a guarantee. So either the factory is going to guarantee the window or the company you hired for installation is going to guarantee the window against seal failure, glass breakage, etc.

Homeowner Tip: Low-E glass reflects heat energy into or out of the house and reflects ultraviolet light away from your home. This energy-efficient window helps to prevent UV-induced fading and keeps your house warm in the winter and cool in the summer. 

CD: Any window made from a reputable manufacturer with low-E glass is going to have that U-Factor and be energy efficient. After replacing leaky old windows, our customers have saved up to 30% on their heating and cooling bills.

Get more tips for lowering your utility bills in Power Up Your Energy-Saving Home Ideas.

Q3: What is the U-Factor of a window? 

How much solar heat do your windows let in?

CD: The U-Factor rating for a window is important. It measures how well the window insulates. A U-Factor ranges from .20 to 1.20, and a lower U-Factor indicates the better window insulation.

Homeowner Tip: The way a window faces – north, south, east, and west – and your type of climate determine what U-Factor rating you need. The Department of Energy offers recommendations as well as suggestions regarding Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) or how much heat from the sun enters your home through a window. The lower the SHGC, the less solar heat a window lets in.

As always, talk to your window replacement professional, who can help you determine which quality windows are best for your home. 

Q4: Should I get double-pane or triple-pane windows?

CD: There are some triple-pane windows out in the market. We primarily focus on double-pane glass windows, and we like a thermal vinyl window, which we feel does the best job and lasts the longest.

Q5: What window materials are better for my home: vinyl or aluminum?

Ask your local professional what windows work best for your climate.

CD: An aluminum window is a metal that will conduct heat or cold, which is why we like a vinyl window. It's called a virgin vinyl, and it isn't going to expand or contract in the seasons and is going to stand up to the hot Chicago weather.

Homeowner tip: If you're wondering, "What are the best home windows for my area?" a local professional can help to pick out the ones best suited to tackling your climate.

Q6: How long does a double-pane window last?

CD: A new replacement window should last at least 25 years.

Q7: What is the important thing I need to know about replacing my windows?

Hire a professional to complete the project.

CD: More than half the battle is getting a window installer who knows what he's doing to install that window properly – to do the framing, caulking, insulating, and then capping of the window. You can have the best window in the world, but if it's not installed right, it's not going to do what it's supposed to.

Q8: Do I need to maintain my brand-new windows?

CD: With a newer vinyl window – they're basically maintenance free. They tilt in to clean, so you can clean them from the inside. You can clean that outer pane glass and the inside glass. But there really shouldn't be any maintenance required with newer thermal vinyl replacement windows.

Expert advice at your fingertips

vipHomeLink can help!

Here at vipHomeLink, we know how difficult it is to know what to do and when to do it around the home. That's why we created our home management app, which provides homeowners with personalized reminders for home maintenance to tailored recommendations for home improvement. From changing batteries in smoke alarms to updating your windows to double-pane, gas-filled windows, we've got you covered.

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