Window Repair versus Replacement
Most older windows, especially wood windows, can be easily repaired by a contractor or a skilled homeowner with experience in window maintenance and restoration. If your original window isn’t working properly or has some damage, don’t think the entire window always needs to be replaced. Components can be repaired, and sometimes just individual parts need to be replaced.
Replacement windows are “maintenance free” because they cannot be maintained or repaired easily. Once seals are broken or components warp, the entire component or unit will need to be replaced.
Older windows perform very well when maintained. Most older windows can be made energy efficient by sealing gaps, replacing glazing compound, fixing broken glass, repairing loose parts, and installing weatherstripping.
Replacement windows have a short life expectancy of less than 20 years. Compare this with old wood windows, which can last another 100 years.
Good quality replacement windows are typically much more expensive than restoring an existing window and adding a storm panel.
The minimal energy savings associated with new replacement windows, on average, takes 20 to 40 years to recoup (assuming they continue to perform well). With a maximum life expectancy of 20 years, the replacement windows will likely need to be replaced before any cost benefit is realized.
Read Preservation Brief Number 9: The Repair of Historic Wooden Windows (https://www.nps.gov/orgs/1739/upload/preservation-brief-09-wood-windows.pdf) for further information and guidance.