A lot of people don't think twice about their homes' windows—as long as you can see through them and get some air and natural light, what's left to think about? But windows are structural openings after all, and without proper installation and maintenance, they can be a silent enemy of household comfort. No matter how hard your furnace or air conditioner might be working, a compromised window can leave you exposed to the elements—and paying way too much on those energy bills.
Anyplace there are connections in a building’s envelope, whether they are seams in the roofing material, the area where a window penetrates the structure, or elsewhere, there is the potential for that connection to break or wear down. Windows are a frequent spot where the weatherproof seal fails, but knowing the signs of deterioration can tip both residents and building staff off before a minor fix becomes a major problem.
Sometimes windows just need to be replaced outright, especially if they are outdated and no longer perform their function well. But how do you tell? With a bit of knowledge, community association residents can be aware of the money being saved or lost as a result of the type of windows they have, and can plan accordingly.
Windows in low-rise buildings often can be improved with new vinyl or aluminum replacement window frames. Due to the robust competition between manufacturing companies, the cost of those windows is relatively low and replacement is a fairly straightforward process that doesn’t create major disruptions for residents. Residents should check their governing documents or with the manager to see if replacing windows is their responsibility or the association board.
It might get a little more complicated when it comes to historic or landmarked buildings. If your building is a designated landmark or is located in a historic district, often special permits and clearances must be secured from the municipality or local landmarks commission in order to legally carry out exterior work, and there are frequently strict guidelines as to what worn-out architectural elements may be replaced with, so as to not compromise the historic look of the facade. These buildings generally have the old-school double-hung windows and large wood-frame picture windows that cannot just be replaced with an off-the-shelf prefabricated unit.