9 Signs That It’s Time To Get Your Windows Replaced

Kenneth Wilson

9 Signs That It’s Time To Get Your Windows Replaced

Have you recently checked the state of your existing windows? 

Windows are often overlooked when it comes to home improvement projects. Not that they need to be upgraded often - windows can often last for a decade or two. However, since homeowners have no clue how old their windows are, they won’t know when to replace them.

Age isn’t the only reason windows should be upgraded. Windows are often a big factor that affects the curb appeal of a home. If they look worn out or damaged, then it’s obvious that you will need to replace them.

But even if the window looks great, close up or from afar, there might be unseen problems that could affect you and your home in the long run. While you probably want to take full advantage of a window’s lifespan, you shouldn’t push it if it would mean compromising your quality of living. From energy efficiency to security, windows play a huge role in the overall comfort of your home.

Since there’s no exact time when to replace windows, even if you know the estimated lifespan or not, it can be difficult to determine when to replace them. The material, type of glass used, maintenance, and climate also have varying effects on the longevity of your existing unit. To help you determine when to get your windows replaced, here are 9 warning signs you need to watch out for. While some of them are obvious, there are some problems that are harder to detect. 

Unsightly and Outdated Windows

The easiest sign to tell when to replace your windows is if it’s not visually appealing or looks old. Some homeowners prefer to keep their original windows, especially if they live in an old home, to keep the vintage design. But if the windows look outdated, you might want to start looking for a new design to boost your home’s curb appeal.

If you are also planning a complete home makeover, it would probably be better to replace your existing unit to match your home’s new look. It would be a waste to renovate your entire home and then have unmatched windows. 

You can also use this opportunity to find a new replacement window style that would best fit your home. If you want to learn more about your options, here are 12 types of replacement windows and the cost of each one.

If your home still has single-pane windows, then your units are outdated. Compared to double-pane and triple-pane glass, windows with one pane function more poorly. They are less durable, secure, and not as energy efficient. Single-pane windows also perform worse when it comes to blocking out noise and harmful ultraviolet rays.

Damaged Frames

An easy to spot sign when to replace your window is visible damage, such as in the frames. While a little wear and tear in your window frames, like a small crack, may not seem like a big deal, it is an issue that should be handled immediately. Even if these damages are only visible closeup, which means they won’t necessarily affect the curb appeal; when left unattended, they could spread quickly.

When you fix a crack early on, then it would be easy to solve the issue. But if the crack has already spread, then it’s better to replace the window. The same goes if you were able to repair the crack but it still continues to grow.

It’s not just the cracks that you have to look out for. You also need to check for chipping, water damage, and decay on the window frames or if they have become soft. There are many factors that can cause these such as age, climate, and extreme weather conditions. It will also depend on the material of the window frame. Wooden ones are more prone to damage as they can deteriorate when exposed to moisture.

If you start finding cracks, chipping, mold, water damage, and decay, then it’s time to get them replaced. These are telltale signs that the window is old and nearing the end of its lifespan, and could start sagging sooner or later. You probably want to check your other windows because if they were all installed at the same time, chances are that most of them will be experiencing the same issues soon.

Related: Should You Replace All Of Your Windows At The Same Time?

Aside from looking unsightly, if they become too weak, they won’t be able to hold up the panes, which could crash down and break, injuring your, your family, or your pets. Decaying frames can also lead to leaking windows. So if you find a puddle on your floor by the window when it rains, then you already know that it’s time to get it replaced.

Cracked or Broken Glass

Another noticeable issue, which will be more urgent than cracked window frames, is damaged window panes. Not only is it visible and unsightly, but it could quickly lead to more serious issues that affect your home’s comfort, security, and energy efficiency. 

Small cracks in a windowpane would spread faster than ones in frames and could become dangerous when the glass breaks. Glass is more easily affected by sudden changes of temperature and it would also be harder to stop the cracks from growing.

If you catch a crack early on, replace the pane immediately. However, do consider the age of your window. If you know that it is more than a decade old, it’s probably better to get a replacement window instead of having to replace the glass pane multiple times.

Defective Window Operation

One of the most common as well as obvious reasons homeowners get their window replaced is when it’s faulty. Check every window in your home if you can easily open and close it. If it becomes too difficult to open or close, forcing you to pry or bang them shut, then it’s to get the unit replaced.

This often happens to old windows, which become difficult to open and close as the years go by. It sticks or jams due to the formation of rot and rust, or has developed balance issues. If you think you can just live with it, remember that it shouldn’t be difficult to open and close windows. 

Imagine when the rain suddenly pours and you are stuck trying to get the window close. The longer you take, the more you get wet - as well as the room, floor, nearby furniture, and other items. If you’re used to it since it’s been difficult to open and close since the beginning, then you should get a different window installer who will be able to do it properly.

If it’s difficult to close, then it would be difficult to lock as well. Aside from functionality, this will also have an impact on the overall safety of your home.


If you already have a double-pane window, one of the things you need to watch out for is condensation. This excessive condensation typically occurs during cold days. If there is moisture or frosting between the glass panes, then it means that the seals have failed or that the glazing and gas fill is not as effective. If these don’t work, the moisture gets in between the glass panes, which creates condensation. 

Unfortunately, this problem isn’t easy to fix. You can have just the glass panes replaced, but oftentimes, you will need to get the window replaced to fix the condensation issue. 


Unlike condensation, which is visible, it would be more difficult to notice drafting. Drafty windows allow cooled or heated air from inside your home to escape while letting outside air to come in. This will affect the temperature of your home, making it more uncomfortable.

It’s a common problem since windows can get drafty as they age and the seals are probably wearing off. Another reason is that the windows were poorly installed. When it’s not addressed, it can become a more serious issue - affecting the thermal stability of your home and your energy bills. Not only will it increase your heating and cooling costs, but it can also increase the burden on these systems, making them depreciate faster. This is because air leaks can drastically change your home’s temperature, making it harder for the HVAC system to keep up with the changing temperature.

To find out if you have drafty windows, stand close to one and check if you feel the air from the outside. If you feel a breeze even when the window is closed, then you have a draft. Another way to check for drafts is by using an incense stick or a candle. Hold either of these two by the corner of the window. If the smoke moves or the candle flickers, then your window is drafty. 

Increase in Energy Costs

Are your monthly energy bills suddenly skyrocketing? If you think that your heating or cooling system is the culprit, you might want to check out your windows first.

One of the signs to replace windows that most homeowners often miss is the increase in their energy bills. Underperforming windows are usually the reason why the energy bill is getting higher.

To determine whether it’s your window or the HVAC system at fault, check your windows just like how you check for drafts. During the winter, if the window area is colder than the rest of your home, then the window is not properly insulated. If it has air leaks and the seals have failed, the insulating gas in-between the glass panes are probably gone. This means that the window won’t be energy efficient. The same goes if the glass is cracked. If the hot or cool air from the inside goes out, then the regulation done by your HVAC system will go to waste. 

For energy-efficient windows, you may want to check out Low-E windows. These can help retain heat during the cooler months and prevent hot air from outside to go in during the summer months. 

Related: Low-E Windows vs. Clear Glass Windows: Which One Should You Get?

Poorly Insulated

Does the glass of your double-pane or triple-pane window become too cold to touch during winter? If this happens, then your windows provide little protection from the cool air outside, which means they are probably poorly insulated. This shows that the heat from your HVAC system cools as soon as it comes into contact with your windows.

Insulation is also not just for the cooler months. It is also poorly insulated if it gets too hot to touch when it’s warm out. That’s why whether you’re in a cold or warm climate, get windows that are well-insulated to make sure that your home is comfortable whatever the temperature.

Outside Noise Travels Into Your Home

Another sign that you need to replace your windows is if you start hearing the outside noise too often and too loudly. If the sound from traffic, car horns, dog barks, or even hushed neighborhood conversations travel into your home, this means your windows are not sealed - or worse - installed correctly.

They should also be insulated properly to reduce the audible outdoor noise, making a home more relaxing and comfortable. Double-pane or triple-pane windows with gas fill will block the noise better. Your home is like a private bubble, block the noise, and keep it that way.

Related: 6 Essential Details To Consider Before Replacing Your Windows

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Related: 11 Questions You Need To Ask Your Window Replacement Contractor

Kenneth Wilson
January 17, 2021
Window Replacement

Kenneth Wilson

Retired contractor. Currently residing in Southwest Florida. Now in semi-retirement, I write and manage this blog focused on helping home owners make savvy decisions when it comes to finding contractors and getting their projects done. I also operate remodeling design service for homeowners.

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