blog-icon-windowWe’ve had a dry year in the valley, but El Nino is on the way. Believe it or not, officials are now concerned about the amount of water we’ll be getting this winter. Going from a drought to a flood warning is a shock, but not as much of a shock as finding that your house isn’t as weatherproof as you thought–especially when it starts to rain. Water damage can be costly to fix, and it’s not just your roof that keeps out the rain. If your windows are old, single-paned, or improperly sealed they may let in water.

Weatherproofing Window Basics

Your house, basically, is a box. Without any holes it’s pretty weatherproof. But add a few holes and that’s not so much the case. Windows seal those holes back up, but there is always a greater risk of leaks than there was before the hole was there. And if the windows aren’t put in properly, you could be in for trouble. Many people do window work, and they all have their own way of doing it. Some of those ways work great; some, not so much. Windows also retain internal climate–at least, the good ones do. Bad windows or bad window installs may not do a good job of helping maintain the temperature indoors.

A lot of window issues crop up from poor installation: improper weatherproofing, cracking flanges, bad caulking. Any of these can cause windows to leak water and allow air to escape or enter the house, which makes your air conditioning or heating less effective than they could be. Over time any of these issues can also arise from wear and tear.

Caulking cracks and weather damage occurs over the years. Cheap, low-quality windows (like those often found in track homes) are more likely to fail than custom installed ones, but any window can fail given enough time. Because window replacement is often low priority, even the oldest of homes may never have had their windows replaced. Very old windows can be easily recognized by the thicker bottoms of the panes as compared to the tops, which is caused by glass slowly flowing over decades. This flowing also causes the glass to look warped or wavy, a sure tell that the windows are very old and probably single-paned (meaning they’re much less well-insulated than modern, double-pane windows).

Some of those old windows are fine, and some of the new ones fail. Visual inspection is the only way to be sure your windows are weather-tight. Water that comes into the house can cause severe damage, from the drywall to the floor. I know someone who left their house in the winter, spending three months abroad in Italy. What they didn’t know was that their bedroom window had failed, and three months of rain had been running inside their house. The cost to repair was, ultimately, in the five figure range.

Are Your Windows Costing You Money?

Water coming in may be the cause of the most damage, but bad windows can cost you money in sneakier ways. Heat and cooling loss are the most common: single-paned and old windows allow heat to escape your home easily in the winter, and make your house harder to air-condition in the summer. Even if your windows aren’t leaking water they may well be letting out heat or cold air. This is trickier to check for than water—it’s a conversation best had with a contractor who has inspected the house and can recommend a course of action if necessary.

The unfortunate fact of windows is that they aren’t designed to be repaired and re-used. Sure, you can fix a broken window, but there’s not much you can do with existing windows to make them more weatherproof and insulating. If your windows aren’t cutting it, your most effective option is replacement. There are a lot of options in windows out there–single or double-paned, aluminum or vinyl flanges, the amount of tint–and it can seem pretty overwhelming. If you’re concerned about your utility bill and not just weatherproofing windows you need to take into consideration your entire HVAC system. And timing is important—you don’t want to be mid-replacement when the rain is coming down. Window replacement is also a lot of work and can cost up-front for quality windows (although those costs get recouped when your utility bills are lowered).

How Bell Brothers Can Help

It may sound like a lot of stress, but it doesn’t have to be stressful. We’ve been doing windows the right way for years now, and we love working with people to find the right fit for their home and budget. You’ll find that most of the headache can be taken care of with a bit of planning. And the difficulties of people working in and around your home will seem less so when those people are professionals with experience and the goal of saving you money and headaches. In fact, when handled by a professional, window replacement can be painless and cost-effective—both today and down the line. Schedule an appointment with us today, so we can get you ready for the weather that lies ahead.