Author Topic: Window replacement(s) best left to professionals?  (Read 5039 times)

dadu007

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Window replacement(s) best left to professionals?
« on: February 27, 2015, 12:05:43 PM »
Hi All,

I'm not sure my DIY skills are up to replacing windows (it would be the hardest project I've ever done).  But I'd at least like to explore the possibility by looking over a good tutorial.  In general I would consider myself fairly handy.

Our Minnesota home was built in 1988.  We bought the house 2 years ago. Not even sure of the term, but all the windows, of varying sizes, have the two panes of glass separated by a sealed airspace to add thermal insulation.  The air-tight seal between the two panes is long gone in all of them...Ice/frost actually builds up on the inside of them during sub-zero days.  When the sun shines through, I can feel the heat of the sun, so they're not insulating much, if at all. Some of the larger "windows" are actually a bank of 3 or 4 windows, with the two side windows having the hand cranks to open them.  It would probably be best to do a whole window replacements as far as I can tell (insert replacement).

Getting new windows would save us money in heating costs, but I'm wincing at what I'm sure is a huge replacement cost and also at the fear of not finding a reputable installer.

I found MMM's comments in a window replacement thread where he said he might post a few pictures outlining the procedure, but, alas, it looks like that never came to pass.

Any help, thoughts, or links appreciated. :-)

infogoon

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Re: Window replacement(s) best left to professionals?
« Reply #1 on: February 27, 2015, 12:18:19 PM »
Replacement isn't really difficult, but it can be a bit time-consuming until you get the process down. It can also be problematic if your windows are odd or non-standard sizes, or if you have windows that can't be replaced from inside the house. For example, we have a window in our shower that's surrounded by tile, so it had to be replaced from the outside by someone on a ladder.

Scandium

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Re: Window replacement(s) best left to professionals?
« Reply #2 on: February 27, 2015, 12:27:28 PM »
I'm subscribing to this.
Looked at some howto videos on youtube and it looked fairly easy, as long as you don't have to redo the whole frame (and basically take the wall apart). But apparently buying good windows can be a pain. The stuff at home depot etc is generally garbage, and many manufacturers only sell to the big installers. In some sort of mob type arrangement. There was one place that sold to consumers, I'll see if I can find it.

If someone can tell me the best way to do this I'd love to hear it! Especially where to buy good windows.

edit: this place
http://www.windowestore.com/

Gone Fishing

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Re: Window replacement(s) best left to professionals?
« Reply #3 on: February 27, 2015, 12:31:08 PM »
Don't be disappointed when you can still feel the sun through your fancy new windows!

jda1984

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Re: Window replacement(s) best left to professionals?
« Reply #4 on: February 27, 2015, 01:24:50 PM »
It depends on several factors.  I replaced a window on our 1995 built two story two years ago.  We have aluminum siding and I realized the window was not flashed properly when it was installed.  I needed to remove the siding from about half the height of the house, remove the rotting window and frame, repair/replace the damaged framing/sheathing near by, install the new window, flash it properly, replace the siding.  That was more complicated than the scenario you have, but you have more of them.

If you don't feel drafts around your windows, the framing is probably sealed adequately.  You can buy insert windows which only replace the window glass and frame and not the sashes.  These can be relatively inexpensive.  I think Marvin makes a decent product for these, but others probably do as well (Anderson, Pella, etc.).  You can also buy replacement windows which replace the sash and the whole assembly, but typically you need to have wood/hardboard siding to make this work or the original window doesn't have built in trim.

As far as buying good replacement windows, stay away from the big box stores.  I'm not sure where in Minnesota you live (I'm in Minneapolis), but a local lumberyard is a better bet.  I bought my replacement Marvin window from Scherer Brothers in Hopkins as it was convenient to pick up on my way home from work.  Hopefully that helps.

As far as feeling the sun through the window, that's normal.  It's the radiation part of heat transfer.  Double/triple pane is addressing the convective part of heat transfer and increasing the thermal resistance of the window.  You could buy a window with a coating to reject more solar radiation, but it's not really needed in Minnesota (maybe Arizona).  If you feel drafts, that's a bigger issue as you're exchanging air with the outside in an uncontrolled way (you do need some building ventilation).

dadu007

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Re: Window replacement(s) best left to professionals?
« Reply #5 on: February 27, 2015, 02:04:59 PM »
@jda1984

Thanks for the local feedback! I'm in the west suburbs (Plymouth area). So not too far away...I can check out Scherer Bros. and I'm familiar with Marvin.

A couple other considerations: Our house has an air exchanger, however the previous (2nd) owners never ran the thing; consequently water condensation (probably) formed on the windows and really damaged the wood casings (trim/sills).  So I think full window replacements are in store for us.  Ugh.  Just doing window inserts will probably not cut it, cosmetically and integrity-wise.

The siding of our house is the composite type, for lack of a better word (the kind that swells when water gets inside). It's not vinyl and I can't remove rows of it when doing a window.  Really the whole house needs to be re-sided (we'd like to have the James Hardie siding) and the roof in 10 years or so.  The grand plan is to re-roof with a metal roof and re-side at the same time.  Big bucks!  Some one needs to die before that happens.  ;-)

Point is, if I replace any windows myself, I don't want to mess with the current siding, as it has to last for quite awhile before we tackle that...

Thank for everyone's feedback so far.  I need to take a closer look at how our current windows are installed, from both the outside/inside.

We are both fortunate and cursed that this was a custom one-off house when it was built, so I don't even know if the windows are standard sizes yet!

paddedhat

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Re: Window replacement(s) best left to professionals?
« Reply #6 on: February 27, 2015, 04:14:48 PM »
Are you aware that many glass shops can make replacement insulated glass units to replace the fogged ones in your windows?  If your windows are performing well otherwise, replacing just the fogged IG panes can be done for a fraction of a window replacement. The shop in our area does it two ways. They can send out a tech. and have him do the work for you, or you can bring the sashes, or just the glass in, and they will build a matching replacement.

gaja

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Re: Window replacement(s) best left to professionals?
« Reply #7 on: February 27, 2015, 04:42:53 PM »
All our windows are rotten and punctured, so DH will be changing them as soon as we have finished renovating and selling the old house. He often uses me as a sounding board when he is planning projects, but I usually don't listen. But I have heard him talking about ho it is easy getting hold of decent second hand windows, or windows that are brand new but that people bought by mistake. But they are usually the wrong size, and resizing the frame is apparantly a much bigger job than just exchanging same size windows. The last time he put in windows it looked very easy, but that is how it always looks when someone has experience. I think there is a lot of "mokleri" (don't know the english word, is something like a lot of little details that you have to get right and try to adjust at the same time, and you really need 3 extra sets of hands, but there is only room for one hand, and if someone tries to help they will just mess the entire thing up, so you just keep going back and forth and trying a lot of times) until you get it right and find a good technique.

I have been looking at different types of windows, and am quite tempted by the ones with good U factors, even though they are very expensive. Also, we are considering going back to the original types of glasses this house used to have, which were sets of casement windows.

bacchi

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Re: Window replacement(s) best left to professionals?
« Reply #8 on: March 01, 2015, 02:03:11 PM »
Yeah, the Habitat RE-store is a good place to look. They sometimes have new windows.

ChrisLansing

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Re: Window replacement(s) best left to professionals?
« Reply #9 on: March 02, 2015, 12:09:30 AM »
@OP

I replaced some of my windows myself.    If you are replacing the same size it's actually very very easy.    There should be some good youtube videos on the subject. 

Why not tackle one window to see how it goes?   In my experience, it took about 1.5 hours to do the first window, and .5 to do the second. 

thurston howell iv

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Re: Window replacement(s) best left to professionals?
« Reply #10 on: March 02, 2015, 10:06:52 AM »
I have a similar situation on my windows. Most of them have the vacuum seal all buckled. Spoke with a reputable local company. They want $4k to install all the windows (10 of them IIRC). Transferable lifetime warranty. Accidental breakage replacement.  Still kinda steep for me.

Had a home energy audit and they saw the windows. They said the cost/savings was not worth it. (unless I lived there forever).

Might look at a DIY option but it's not a major concern right now.

BooksAreNerdy

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Re: Window replacement(s) best left to professionals?
« Reply #11 on: March 02, 2015, 12:39:29 PM »
Look for a local lumber/materials supplier (probuild, McCray) to sell you windows. They generally work with regional window manufacturers and these windows are just as good as 'name brand' windows at about 1/3 the cost. Their sales Rep will measure and order everything you need, including delivery.

Pella is crap, don't bother. Another way to get opinions is to look up a local inspection company, the types of guys who inspect a home before you guy it. Ask them what windows they do or don't recommend.