How long do windows last?

How long do windows last?

Window Replacement / by Crystal Diaz

Windows can last between 10 and 80 years. There is no one set number for how many years windows last because a window’s lifespan is entirely dependent upon the material, climate, installation technique, usage, thermal efficiency, and maintenance routine.

How many years do windows last?

About 10-80 years. In addition to the material, the following factors significantly affect the lifespan of the windows:

  • Climate: Extreme hot or cold, frequent changes between the two, hurricanes, hailstorms, snow, rain, salt, and sun exposure all contribute to wear and tear on your windows depending on the region you live in. The less they have to combat all of these, the longer they will last. 
  • Usage: The more you use them, the faster they wear out from the daily function. After years and years of opening and closing, it’s more likely that parts may break or warp, and eventually, the window will need to be replaced. 
  • Installation technique: This factor is a prime example of why DIY projects are better when left to projects with less margin for error. Install a window incorrectly, and you will end up with drafts in your home, broken seals, humidity, and outdoor pollution, meaning you will need a replacement sooner rather than later. 
  • Thermal efficiency: A window’s U-value is a measure of its thermal efficiency. The higher a U-value is, the more heat the window will lose during cold times of the year. This heat loss increases energy bills and the build-up of condensation. Over time, an increase in condensation will lead to the need for a replacement. Thermal efficiency is why energy-efficient windows are so important. Energy-efficient windows last longer, reduce heating and cooling costs, and are environmentally friendly. 
  • Maintenance: Following the proper maintenance protocol for the type of window you have is essential to extending its lifespan. Each will have its own unique needs based on the material it’s made from, and not attending to them can cost you decades in functionality.

Vinyl Window Lifespan

How long should vinyl windows last? Well, it depends, not only on climate and sun exposure but also on the quality of the vinyl brand you choose. 

Regular vinyl windows have a lifespan of about 10-20 years. Premium vinyl windows range more in the realm of 30 to 40 years. The 10-year gaps in these ranges account for environmental impact. 

Do you have tons of sun exposure to the windows on your home for long periods of time? Sunlight will break down the vinyl material and degrade the efficacy of your windows at a faster rate than if they were in heavily shaded areas. 

Living in an area that fluctuates between extreme heat and cold during the year will also reduce their lifespan.

Wood Window Lifespan

Wooden windows last anywhere from 30 to 60 years. The key determining factor of how long they will last is the maintenance you put into them.

It is essential to clean and inspect wood windows once every six months for cracking, moisture, weatherstripping damage, peeling finish or paint, and loose caulking. This check will help you proactively take steps to fix problems before they progress.

You also need to refinish your wood frames once every two to three years. How well you take care of your wood windows drastically impacts the durability of their functionality.

Double-Pane Window Lifespan

The life expectancy of double-pane windows is 10 to 20 years. Like many window types, their lifespan depends on environmental factors. 

Climates that bounce back and forth between heat and cold reduce life expectancy. 

A frequent change in temperature causes the air between the panes to expand and contract, forcing the fill and seal to follow suit. This movement breaks down the seal allowing moisture to seep in and get stuck between the panes. 

This moisture creates fog and makes it difficult to see out of the glass. The only way to correct this is by replacing the glass pane or the window in its entirety.

Fiberglass Window Lifespan

Fiberglass windows take the cake when it comes to life expectancy delivering a whopping 50-80 years on average to homeowners. 

Fiberglass is the most durable against the elements impervious to moisture, warping, and cracking. It is also low maintenance for long-term care.

Aluminum Window Lifespan

There is a wide range for the lifespan of aluminum windows, anywhere from 20 to 40 years. The reason for this is threefold. 

First, it is easy for the weather to damage aluminum. So if hurricanes and hailstorms frequent your home, your windows are going to have a shorter lifespan. 

Second, aluminum is not the best when it comes to insulating your home. That means that over time, you will be spending more money on the “cost” of the windows because of their impact on your rising energy bills. 

Lastly, aluminum is likely to rust after long enough exposure to the elements.

Signs that it is time to replace

Each type of window has a signal that their life in your home is over and it’s time to replace your windows, whether it’s high energy bills, a drafty home, loud outdoor noise, fog, visible damage, difficulty operating, mold, bugs, or condensation. 

Rising Energy Bills

Signs Of Old Vinyl Windows

Rising energy bills and pockets of cold throughout the house mean that you need to replace your vinyl windows, most likely because they are no longer able to insulate your home properly. 

Can you hear everything going on outside of your house with the windows closed? If so, your vinyl windows are no longer doing their job, and it’s time for some replacement windows. 

Lastly, when warped frames make opening and closing your vinyl windows feel like doing a set at the gym, you need to highly consider replacing your vinyl windows.

Signs Of Old Wood Windows

Just like vinyl windows, old wooden window frames tend to warp and let in air from the outside when it’s time for replacement windows. If your heating and cooling bills are higher than average and your house is drafty, call a professional for window replacement services. 

Wood rot is one of the most common reasons for the need to replace wooden windows. Leaving wood rot means you are risking mold and mildew growth and the spread of the rot to the structure of your house through the framing. 

A termite infestation is another reason to replace your wood windows. If you catch the termites in their path of destruction early, you can take other methods. However, if the termites have caused significant structural damage to your wood windows, you will need to replace the wood entirely. Either way, the first thing you should do is call a termite professional to make sure there is no further threat to your home.

Signs Of Old Double-Pane Windows

Is your window foggy? Foggy windows are the biggest indicator of the need for replacement double-pane windows. The only way to fix a double-pane window with fog from condensation stuck between the panes is to replace it. 

You need replacement windows if the outsides of your windows are looking shabby because of structural damage. Likewise, there is no way to repair the wood between the window panes if it is damaged or broken, meaning you need to replace the window completely. 

The last thing to look out for that indicates you need to replace your double-pane windows is significant water leaking into your home from the window.

Signs Of Old Fiberglass Windows

Luckily, it is very rare that you will need to worry about replacing a fiberglass window. However, on the off chance that you do, some of the signs may be higher than usual utility bills and a significant increase in the presence of cold drafts.

Signs Of Old Aluminum Windows

If the weatherstripping around your aluminum windows is cracked or damaged or there is moisture between your panes, you will need to replace your aluminum windows. 

Water leaks and rust are also an indicator you need a replacement.

How do you tell how old your house windows are?

When it comes to windows, before you buy a house, you should ask the old owner how old they are and who the manufacturer is.  

If they don’t have that information and cannot determine the age of the home or the windows, the next thing you can do is figure out who manufactured the windows. 

Warranties can vary from a few years to a lifetime. So it’s crucial to find out information about any existing warranty before you are in the position of needing to make a decision about getting replacements.  

The warranty is only valid as long as the manufacturer is in good standing. Meaning, you need to find out the manufacturer and their status. 

To find this information, use a magnifying glass to look for the manufacturer’s brand name in the form of a code using letters or numbers or identification markings. 

You might be able to locate this information on the surface, corners, or in the spacers, and once you have this information, you can do a Google search to connect the dots.  

If all else fails, use the indicators we’ve discussed above first to decide if you need replacements. Then you can have a professional measure your old window and use those measurements to cross-reference with manufacturer catalogs to find out if there is a match.

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