Should you repair or replace?

Rob Parker, Home Inspector
Rob Parker says their are advantages to repairing and replacing.

Rob Parker says their are advantages to repairing and replacing.

Two areas that come to mind are windows and exterior doors that are subject to wear and tear stemming from constant use and exposure to the elements.

There are many choices available to homeowners who want to upgrade or make changes to the windows or doors in their homes, but there are also a number of factors to consider before making the decision about whether your windows or doors need to be replaced or simply repaired.

Some important areas that you will want to consider include:

- Though increased house air tightness can improve energy efficiency, in may also lead to a greater need for mechanical ventilation. A sufficient air supply may also be needed to prevent combustion appliances from back drafting.

- Your existing windows and doors may not fit the style of your house or give you the features that you want.

- The components of windows and doors wear out over time. Failed seals on thermal pane window units, poorly operating windows or doors, damaged screens or hardware and air leaks are common problems. Older door and window hardware may not offer much protection against forced entry.

- There may be structural problems affecting the operation of doors and windows. Installation of larger units or units in new locations will probably also require structural changes.

- Windows and doors often deteriorate because of moisture problems that will not necessarily go away if you install new units. In fact, moisture may even get worse because of reduced air leakage.

- The glass area of windows and doors accounts for a high degree of heat loss at night or during the winter months, and heat gain when the sun is shining especially during the summer months. Though energy-efficient glazing can reduce heat loss, heating system modifications or some type of shading may also be needed to improve comfort near large window areas. In my opinion, the best installation method for replacing windows and doors is the "rough opening" or R/O method. With an R/O installation, the entire window or door, including the frame, is removed right down to the frame work of the house and then replaced.

This type of installation allows for complete sealing and alignment of the window or door to ensure optimum performance of the new unit. You should also make sure that the windows or doors are Energy Star rated, come with a good warranty, and that the company you're dealing with is insured and has been installing windows and doors for some time. Windows come in many different opening stiles such as single hung, double hung, casement, sliding, awning and fixed. Most windows today are made with a vinyl frame, aluminum or stainless steel hardware and thermopane glass.

The glass can be coated to reflect heat. This is generally call E glass and space between the layers of glass filled with a gas such as Argon creating the thermopane. In most cases, whatever style of window you choose can be installed in the existing window opening.

Over time, weather-stripping, hardware and door and frame materials can deteriorate or fail. Windows and doors are a part of the "interactive system" that makes up your house, so they should be constantly monitored to ensure they're supporting the other components of the system, including the structure, heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment.