Whether you’ve recently purchased a new home or you’ve been living in the same one for the last 10 years, you may be due for a window repair or replacement. There’s just one problem: most homeowners rarely think about their windows, let alone maintaining or replacing them. This is surprising considering how having the right window can save you between $126 and $426 per year in energy bills which, over time, can really add up.

Here are three common problems with windows that may need to be repaired and whether or not it is better to replace them:

1) You’re noticing fog between double pane windows

Double pane windows have a lot of advantages, one of which is insulation. Most double pane windows have a layer of Argon gas in between them which serves to keep the cold out. However, if you start to notice your windows looking “foggy” and can’t clean them from the exterior, you may have a leak that is allowing moisture and, in some cases, frost to enter between your windows. Glassdoctor.com rightly points out that if your windows were of higher quality, they may be able to be repaired by a professional; however, it is almost always more advisable to have them replaced entirely. Repairing this type of damage is like putting a spare tire on a used car: it’ll only get you so many miles before needing a change.

2) Your energy bills have been rising in the winter

On hot summer days, an open window is perfect for letting in the cool air. On cold winter nights, though, a closed window should not be doing the same. Drafty windows can be a problem and you’ll begin to see the changes on your energy bill. In fact, Energy.gov says that it may increase your energy bills by 10% - 25% which is no small amount. If you suddenly notice that you’re spending more money per month to heat your home, it may be a sign that you have drafty windows. In this scenario, check the windows to see which cool air is coming in. It may just be a matter of getting new weather stripping which can be done at home. On the other hand, it might make more financial sense to replace the window entirely.

3) You see obvious signs of “wear and tear”

This one sounds like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many people let their windows go beyond repair. Cracks are obvious issues needing to be fixed, but because they are so unsightly, they’re often replaced immediately. Other issues, however, can be more subtle and can range from minor things like needing new weather stripping to larger problems like warped glass or window frames. While you can probably fix little issues yourself, it’s not recommended. As Forbes.com warns,“replacing a damaged, warped, or broken window sash or frame is almost always preferred to attempting a repair.” The reason for this is simple: when it comes to something as fragile as panes of glass, you really need to know what you’re doing; otherwise, you’re looking at a larger time (if not financial) investment than necessary. 

Check out your windows today

As we’re approaching winter, it may be a good idea to take a brief look at the windows in your home. Check for signs of cracking, warping, or fogging of the window panes to know if you should look into repairs or replacements. As you’ve probably noticed, there are some repairs that can be done at home but more often than not, it’s just smarter and cheaper, in the long run, to have them replaced. After all, with the money you’ll save on your heating bills this holiday season, there’s no reason not to!