Window replacement may seem like a straightforward task on the surface, especially for someone who is relatively handy, but is actually a lot more involved than it first appears. The professionals at Adelphia have come together to answer the question – “is it difficult to replace my own windows”?
Replacing a window requires having a good understanding of how the original window was installed, as well as knowing how to take proper measurements.
You must also be prepared to deal with the common issues that can arise during window replacement, such as working with openings that are no longer a perfect square.
Here is a closer look at some of the trickier parts of the window replacement process so you can decide whether you are up to the task.
How Do I Replace My Own Windows?
First, it is important to understand how a replacement window works. Most window replacements are inserted, or pocket-type type, installations. This means that the interior and exterior trim of the window will remain in place, as will the original rough opening.
The new window is simply placed inside the rough opening. This is in contrast to a full frame replacement, which is more complicated and should not be attempted on your own.
Many times, in a pocket-type window installation, the windows will need to be moved around inside of an opening that has changed through the years, perhaps by shifting or losing its original shape.
This means you may need to use shims to help the new window fit in the available opening and operate smoothly.
Keep in mind, however, that insert windows can reduce the overall glass exposure of your window because there is an additional frame component.
This means that the window’s overall glass exposure can shrink by as much as three inches when these windows are inserted.
Choosing the Materials For Your Window Replacement
It is important to note that insert replacement windows work best when you are replacing a standard double or single-hung window that opens and closes vertically.
Casement windows that pivot open in a horizontal fashion and sliders cannot be replaced in this manner; it is best to call a professional in these cases.
Measuring and Ordering the Right Window
It is important to make sure that you measure correctly and choose the right size as insert replacement windows are made to fit snugly, with only a very small gap to facilitate tighter insertion in the existing frame.
Window manufacturers will provide instructions on how to measure the window frame, and this will usually be done in 1/16-inch increments. The insert window unit that you choose should be around 1/8 inch shorter and narrower than the opening you have available.
If you are choosing a vinyl or vinyl clad insert window, you can order the window to match your existing trim’s color. If a good match is not available, choose a type that can be painted.
Removing Pocket Weights
Another challenging aspect of the window replacement process is removing the heavy pocket weights found in older double-hung windows that counterbalance the sashes.
In many cases, these weights are made out of the lead, which means they must be disposed of following safety regulations and cannot be thrown into your trash. You may have to deliver these lead weights to a drop-off center that can accommodate hazardous materials.
Removing the Window Stops
One of the trickiest steps in the window replacement process comes right at the beginning: the removal of the window stops. You will need to use a pry bar and a hammer to pry the window-stop molding away from the top and sides of your window frame. In some cases, the moldings might be secured using screws.
If your molding has been painted into place, you will need to use a utility knife to cut through the paint before you can pry it away from the frame.
If you remove stop moldings carefully, you might be able to reuse them after your new insert window is replaced. However, if these moldings are brittle or aging, it is best to replace them.
It can also be tricky to remove the parting stop moldings that keep the inner window separated from the outer window sash. However, it is okay if you need to break them to get them off of the window frame because they will not be reused.
Insulation For Windows
Another step to keep in mind when deciding if you can handle this task yourself is insulating the weight pockets. This requires filling the weight pockets using loosely packed fiberglass insulation to help improve the window’s energy efficiency. If you are uncomfortable working with insulation, you should opt for a professional window replacement.
Caulking Materials Designed For Windows
Another important consideration is your caulking skill level. The top reason that replacement windows fail is moisture seepage, and this can be avoided if you caulk the replacement window carefully using high-quality silicone caulk.
Some windows need a gap at the bottom sill to allow for drainage, so you’ll need to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.
Reach Out to the Window Replacement Specialists
Although you may be able to replace your own windows if you have intermediate to advanced DIY skills, the best way to ensure you enjoy a long lifespan and maximum window energy efficiency from your investment in new windows is by having professionals carry out the job.
The team at Adelphia Exteriors has the knowledge and experience needed to ensure your window replacements are installed properly. Contact us today to request a free estimate.