4 questions you didn't know to ask about replacement windows

If you need replacement windows and have started to do your research, you're probably getting familiar with some of the bigger questions you need to ask. Now start considering the details. Though the below questions may seem obscure, they could save you time and money by giving you a clear picture of what you need.

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  1. Do you really need replacement windows or just new window sashes? The sash is the piece of the window that holds the glass; it is also the moving section of the window. Several window companies make sash replacement kits, including Ply-Gem, Andersen, Jeld-Wen, and Marvin. Sash replacement kits contain two sash and vinyl jamb liners which have balances and insulation. Best of all, the sash comes in vinyl or wood. The wood option is especially good where stained wood sashes are being replaced, as something in a new color or material could change the look of your home.
  2. Do you need low-e glass? During your window-buying process, you may have read about or been told about low-e glass, which can increase the insulation value of windows. The main guide to follow with low-e glass is the four zone Energy Star map. The numbers you want to pay close attention to are u-value (the lower the u-value, the lower your loss of heat on a cold day) and Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (also called SHGC, this measures how much heat your windows block). Without consulting this map, you can wind up paying too much for glass you don't need.
  3. If you're getting vinyl replacement windows, do you know what's inside them? Ask to look at a cut piece of the vinyl extrusion. It should be multi-chambered, both to separate the inside from the outside and to give lineal strength. Extrusions with few chambers inside are weak. If the windows you're planning on buying have fewer chambers, you don't necessarily need to find something else. Ask if you can get the chambers foam filled, which will help keep the cold outside where it belongs. If your windows have many chambers, the foam fill won't make as much of a difference and you can probably do without it.
  4. Do you need glass breakage warranty? Most manufacturers offer it; you may want to get it. Admittedly, glass does not break often, but if it happens to you, you'll be very grateful to have this warranty. Otherwise, you may wind up at your local home improvement warehouse trying to buy a piece of custom sized replacement glass, which can be both difficult and expensive.

If you've considered these questions before you start discussing your window needs with a salesperson, you could wind up saving some money and saving your home from windows that may not be a good fit.

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