Should I Replace My Windows? Advice From GCI

cbeecherBuilding Envelope, Building Maintenance, Windows

Windows are one of the most integral components of your home or building. At GCI, we’re experts in everything that makes up your building envelope – the barrier between the interior and exterior of buildings. This gives us extensive experience consulting on the proper installation and maintenance of windows, and how they fit into the larger picture of keeping your home safe and dry.

We often get questions from customers regarding window replacement. While there are plenty of high-quality window manufacturers, what makes the biggest difference in the performance of your window is the installation.

Windows contribute to your building’s energy efficiency, aesthetics, and safety – but if your window isn’t installed correctly, its performance in those key areas may suffer as a result.

Pocket Installation and Full Frame Installation

First, let’s begin with the two types of window installation: full frame and pocket. Full frame refers to the total replacement of the window, including the frame (hence the name) as well as the surrounding trim. A pocket installation refers to replacing the components of the window within the frame.

If you’re thinking about replacing your windows, determining which installation is ultimately up to the homeowner or building owner – but there are signs that may clue you in on which is necessary.

A pocket installation is usually less disruptive, less time-consuming, and therefore less expensive. If your frame is in good condition and you’re simply repairing the sash, cracked glass, or implementing a different style of glass – then a pocket installation would be appropriate.

If a pocket installation is cheaper and easier – then when is a full frame installation necessary?

One of the first places to start is the condition of your frame. If your frame is in bad condition, such as the wood of the frame is rotting – then it’s likely time to begin a full frame installation.

A full frame installation is also necessary if you’re looking to install larger windows. Maybe you’re addressing fire safety concerns with an egress window or maybe you just want a wider view of your backyard. Either way, in order to expand the size of your window, the frame will also have to be expanded. On the flip side, a pocket installation will likely make your existing window smaller, in order to fit into the existing frame.

What Are Some Signs I Need My Window Replaced?

There are a few obvious reasons to have your windows replaced – cracked glass from the neighbor kids’ backyard baseball games or your sash isn’t operating correctly.

We asked GCI Senior Consultant and former AAMA Window Installation Masters, Dan Johnson, what are some of the other, less common signs that homeowners should look for when thinking about replacing their windows.

“One [sign] is if your window framing or any part of the window material is starting to show deterioration. Either the wood is starting to show water damage, dry rot damage or your vinyl is starting to show signs of warping and fading in color. That’s more of a cosmetic consideration, but some homeowners will get their windows replaced because of that.”

One of the first areas to check for rot is the window sills. Rot is caused by moisture and the window sill is the first area water collects.

“Another sign is if your insulated glass units are starting to fail, and how to determine that is if your windows are becoming foggy.”

“Another reason to replace your windows is for energy efficiency. Homes that are 20 or 25 years old won’t have the better-performing glass units that we have now. Also, windows today have added UV protection which protects your inner furnishings from UV fade.”

According to, windows are responsible for 25% – 30% of residential heating and cooling use. Upgrading your windows can have a huge impact on energy savings.

“Another reason is comfort – outside of energy conservation. If you live in certain parts of the country and feel a nasty draft, well it’s probably time to get the windows replaced.”

There are a lot of different factors to consider when you’re thinking about replacing your windows – what type of installation, what sort of performance you want your windows to achieve, energy conservation, and views. GCI is available as an objective 3rd-party to inspect and consult on the best route for your window replacement based on your specific goals as a homeowner.

GCI can inspect the glass, weather stripping, sashes, and every component of your window to determine what makes sense to be replaced and what doesn’t, potentially saving you time and money on your window replacement project.

GCI recommends that when getting your new windows installed that you use an FGIA accredited window installer, to ensure that your windows are installed up to the manufacturer’s standards. If your project is large enough, then it may be fortuitous to hire a 3rd party consulting company, such as GCI, to evaluate the installation and make sure it is up to building code and manufacturer’s standards.

Not sure where to begin with your window installation? Our experts are standing by, ready to determine the best route of window replacement for you and your home. Tired of drafty nights or high-energy bills? Give GCI a call.

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