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Replacing Home Windows
Old 03-30-2016, 10:49 PM   #1
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Replacing Home Windows

Looking to remodel home by replacing the old windows with new, energy efficient windows. Does anyone have any thoughts, on types, brands, etc.? Also, any recommendations on contractors servicing the Downey, CA area would be extremely useful. Thanks.


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Old 03-30-2016, 10:55 PM   #2
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Looking to remodel home by replacing the old windows with new, energy efficient windows. Does anyone have any thoughts, on types, brands, etc.? Also, any recommendations on contractors servicing the Downey, CA area would be extremely useful. Thanks.
That's a very broad question. But I'll say that, if function (smooth operation, energy efficiency, longevity, etc) is the criteria then you can find very acceptable windows at a reasonable price. I bought vinyl windows (double-paned, low-e, argon-filled) made by Alside 11 years ago and they have been great. You can spend more and get wood or aluminum works of art that would be appropriate for an upscale home, but they may not be any "better" from a functional standpoint than a well-made, well-installed vinyl window from a reputable manufacturer.
One national chain that sells and installs inexpensive windows is Window World. I am not familiar with their products or the quality of their installation, but it would be worth at least researching them if cost is an issue.
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Old 03-30-2016, 11:36 PM   #3
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Are your existing windows single pane if not then you won't see much difference regardless of what the ads say.

The installation of the window is key, poor installation will result in drafts from the best windows. After all the glass itself cannot let the wind in.
The insulative value of double vs triple is minor compared to the R-40 of the wall beside it.

Has your insulation beside the window settled and allows cold now ?

Besides the above, the way the window opens and closes determines how good it is at sealing the cold/humidity out. So the style of window largely determines how good it will be.
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Old 03-31-2016, 06:33 AM   #4
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Just a precaution: what are called "Replacement Windows" are the easiest to install but they reduce the dimensions of the actual amount glass in the window because they have their own frame, therefore your room will be darker. To keep close to the original glass dimensions you need to replace the windows with "New Construction" windows. The process to replace windows with "New Construction" windows is more work but you will have about the same amount of daylight coming in.
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Old 03-31-2016, 06:51 AM   #5
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Use a vinyl window. Any wood will rot. Make sure the installer, even if it yourself, uses a window flashing if you use new construction windows. I have used regular American Craftsman from Home Depot, Jeld-wen windows from Menards, etc. the name brands cost more, but do not really give you a lot more value. If you are in a fancy custom home, go with the name brands.

Look into doing it yourself. It's not that hard. You will save $300+ per window, and it only takes a couple of hours max for each window.
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Old 03-31-2016, 11:55 AM   #6
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If your only reason is energy efficiency, I'd think long and hard about that.

I doubt you would ever see payback, unless your windows are super bad, and you live in a high heating/AC climate. Window replacement is $$$, and even perfect windows will only affect a % of your utility bill - you still have walls, ceilings, floors, doors, and leaks that are allowing the heat in/out.

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Old 03-31-2016, 12:11 PM   #7
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If your only reason is energy efficiency, I'd think long and hard about that.

I doubt you would ever see payback, unless your windows are super bad, and you live in a high heating/AC climate. Window replacement is $$$, and even perfect windows will only affect a % of your utility bill - you still have walls, ceilings, floors, doors, and leaks that are allowing the heat in/out.

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+1
So true, if it's energy efficiency, insulating the roof to R40-R60 is relatively cheap and has a great payback.
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Old 03-31-2016, 12:21 PM   #8
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We replaced our 33 windows just over a year ago going from aluminum to vinyl. As mentioned, we were very concerned about loss of glass area so decided to do the new construction type install rather than retrofit. We did lose some glass, however, because we did not chose the 'slim line' versions for various reasons.

We went from double pane, Argon filled windows to double pane, Argon filled, lowE3 windows. Love, love, love the lowE3. Living in the SF Bay Area (peninsula), we don't have A/C and previously kept our west facing windows covered during the day from May to Oct because that part of the house got really hot if we didn't. We don't have to do that anymore and can enjoy the view. The lowE3 really keeps the summer heat out. Our upstairs usually got to 84-86 during really hot days; this past summer it never got above 82 on the hot, hot days .

I haven't noticed a difference in the winter. I am curious and will drag out our old bills...unfortunately PG&E doesn't provide this year vs. last year use data on the bills.

We engaged a company specializing in window replacements. Unfortunately, we have a lot of trim (think tudor style, but not) around each window, roof to foundation that had to be removed and replaced. They did a great job with the window install, however, did a horrible job with the trim. We are going to have our painter fix some of the worst of it as I don't trust the window company to do any better the 3rd time around.
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Old 03-31-2016, 01:27 PM   #9
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Are your existing windows single pane if not then you won't see much difference regardless of what the ads say.

The installation of the window is key, poor installation will result in drafts from the best windows. After all the glass itself cannot let the wind in.
The insulative value of double vs triple is minor compared to the R-40 of the wall beside it.

Has your insulation beside the window settled and allows cold now ?

Besides the above, the way the window opens and closes determines how good it is at sealing the cold/humidity out. So the style of window largely determines how good it will be.
R40 in the ceiling yes. In the wall - no. Most of California is recommended at R13 in the walls. That is standard fiberglass in 2x4 walls.
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Old 03-31-2016, 02:12 PM   #10
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We replaced our windows several years ago with aluminum core vinyl. I would also recommend fiberglass. We used Hanson's but I think they are Midwest only. We have liked these a lot.
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Old 03-31-2016, 04:27 PM   #11
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We've been replacing our windows in sections. If you're not in a fire area - vinyl is probably fine. We (and all of San Diego) are subject to wildfires - and in the interest of fire hardening, went with metal clad wood. It was more expensive than vinyl - but they won't melt in the heat. It was challenging to get fire ratings from the window manufactururers - but persistence paid off - and guided our decision.

We went from 1960's era single pane aluminum windows to double pane, argon, super low E.... They look nice. They insulate sound amazing, and made a huge difference on our winter heating. We don't have AC - and it's much more tolerable during the few weeks a year we wish we had AC.
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Old 03-31-2016, 05:01 PM   #12
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We went from 1960's era single pane aluminum windows to double pane, argon, super low E.... They look nice. They insulate sound amazing, and made a huge difference on our winter heating. We don't have AC - and it's much more tolerable during the few weeks a year we wish we had AC.
+1, similar to my story. Beyond energy efficiency, the sound reduction was amazing. We went with vinyl, for our house and neighborhood that's all we needed. As mentioned a few times, having them installed right (including proper insulation) is important. I might have done it myself but it would have taken me at least 6 weekends, and the crew did it all in one day. It was a local crew in the midwest, so can't help you with references.

Make sure you look into other convenience factors. Tilt-in cleaning for sure. Integrated locks so you can open the window a few inches but still be secure. The double hungs I eventually chose also gave the benefit of opening from the top or bottom, which I find important. We open them differently depending on time of year - for example, if the room is quite warm, opening a few from the top vents the hot air so the whole room cools, not just the bottom half of the room.
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Old 03-31-2016, 05:39 PM   #13
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I just installed the windows in my home last Fall. I had trouble with the double hungs. The inside sales guy at the local lumber yard where I ordered them said he has a lot more problems with double hungs from any brand than single hungs. Of 10 windows 2 were double hungs and those were the only windows with problems.
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Old 03-31-2016, 05:56 PM   #14
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I put Pella windows in my lake house--wood with colored aluminum cladding. They're top line windows, and would cost more to replace than we have in the whole house. We bought cheap them thru my cousin, an architect.

My last 2 houses have vinyl windows, and I'm really sold on them. I'd suggest going with Windows World or one of the larger retailers selling them for $189 per window.
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Old 03-31-2016, 06:45 PM   #15
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We (and all of San Diego) are subject to wildfires - and in the interest of fire hardening, went with metal clad wood. It was more expensive than vinyl - but they won't melt in the heat. It was challenging to get fire ratings from the window manufactururers - but persistence paid off - and guided our decision.
Went through a wildfire in my neighborhood about 5 years ago. The flames never had direct contact with the house but it did get very hot. Didn't have any damage to the vinyl window frames from the heat but several of the windows on the side where the fire passed through were cracked. Replacing the glass (double pane) was reasonable, less than my homeowners insurance deductible.
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Old 03-31-2016, 08:10 PM   #16
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Are your existing windows single pane if not then you won't see much difference regardless of what the ads say.

The installation of the window is key, poor installation will result in drafts from the best windows. After all the glass itself cannot let the wind in.
The insulative value of double vs triple is minor compared to the R-40 of the wall beside it.

Has your insulation beside the window settled and allows cold now ?

Besides the above, the way the window opens and closes determines how good it is at sealing the cold/humidity out. So the style of window largely determines how good it will be.

The current windows are single pane and let in a lot of noise. Btw, thanks for your response.


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Old 03-31-2016, 08:17 PM   #17
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Went through a wildfire in my neighborhood about 5 years ago. The flames never had direct contact with the house but it did get very hot. Didn't have any damage to the vinyl window frames from the heat but several of the windows on the side where the fire passed through were cracked. Replacing the glass (double pane) was reasonable, less than my homeowners insurance deductible.
We have a friend in Ramona who's neighbor's house burned down in the Cedar fire - they think the flames got inside the house when the vinyl melted, panes fell out, and flames had ingress to the house. That said - they didn't have a fire zone landscaping near their house - and a shrub was right outside the window in question. So you have to be careful on many fronts... Landscaping, screen size (smaller mesh = better) in the eaves and vents, avoiding shake shingle roofs....
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Old 03-31-2016, 08:18 PM   #18
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Seeing you are in So Cal., you likely have stucco exterior. That will factor in to the type of vinyl window you should use. When I had my Milgard windows installed in So, Cal, the noise reduction from the aluminum framed single pane windows was significant.

I now live in a colder climate and looked for the U factor of the window for insulation against the cold. I have Milgard windows here also; but, the noise reduction was not as much as in CA because I had storm windows over the aluminum framed single pane windows.

If sound reduction is a big factor, I am in the process of having my 2 bedroom windows replaced with the Milgard Quiet Line windows to attempt to keep out more noise such as loud car stereos and loud vehicles that drive through the neighborhood on occasion.The Quiet Line is a triple pane window for which I ordered 3 varying thicknesses of glass which is supposed to be helpful in noise reduction.
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Replacing Home Windows
Old 03-31-2016, 08:25 PM   #19
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Replacing Home Windows

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+1, similar to my story. Beyond energy efficiency, the sound reduction was amazing. We went with vinyl, for our house and neighborhood that's all we needed. As mentioned a few times, having them installed right (including proper insulation) is important. I might have done it myself but it would have taken me at least 6 weekends, and the crew did it all in one day. It was a local crew in the midwest, so can't help you with references.

Make sure you look into other convenience factors. Tilt-in cleaning for sure. Integrated locks so you can open the window a few inches but still be secure. The double hungs I eventually chose also gave the benefit of opening from the top or bottom, which I find important. We open them differently depending on time of year - for example, if the room is quite warm, opening a few from the top vents the hot air so the whole room cools, not just the bottom half of the room.

We really need the sound reduction as we live on a very busy street. More than likely I'll go with vinyl Windows too! Thanks for the advise 🙂


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Old 03-31-2016, 09:07 PM   #20
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When we bought our SWFL house we had to replace all the single pane windows (every one of which was cracked), as well as the slider and the front door. Down here we have to meet Miami-Dade requirements for hurricane ratings. The ones we got installed were tested to withstand a 2x4 shot at it at 35 mph. They are triple pane, in that there is a double pane joined by a sheet of polymer, then the argon gas separating another pane. Expensive, but we can barely hear it when a fire truck goes by outside, and we don't need a monitored security system as it would be just as easy to come through the cinderblock walls as it would through the windows. Of course, the front door lock could always be picked, but that would take a lot of nerve right out on the street like that. We got a major break on our (very expensive FL) homeowners insurance for doing it, and our A/C costs dropped by more than half. It's still going to take most of the rest of my life span to recover the costs, but it was worth it for us.
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