Installing a new window may seem as simple as popping out an old frame and replacing it with a new one. (After all, you’ve seen it done a hundred times on Fixer Upper — and it only takes Chip Gaines a few seconds.)
Unfortunately, installing a replacement window is almost never that easy in real life. The job can require you to take measurements, do insulation work, weatherproof the window, and more — all things that can be complicated and are best left to the professionals.
Here are a few reasons why you should hire a window contractor to upgrade the old windows in your home.
Older windows may be tricky to replace.
Even if your home doesn’t have custom-sized windows (and many homes do), older windows don’t always come in the standard sizes that newer windows come in. This means that you may need to do new framing or insulation in order to fit your new window into the home — something that can be difficult for a non-professional to do.
It can take a lot of time to install a new window.
Installing a replacement window on your own — even a simpler style of window, relatively speaking — can take four to six hours, if not longer. A window contractor, however, can likely finish the job in less time. In fact, at the same time, it takes you to install one window, a professional may be able to install multiple windows on one floor, finishing the job in just one day.
You may uncover damage to the window’s surrounding wall — in which case, you’ll probably need to call a professional to fix it.
The walls around your window may appear to be in good shape, but there’s always a chance that, when you take out an old window, there will be wood rot or insect damage underneath. If that occurs, you’ll likely have to hire professional contractors to repair the surrounding walls anyway, which will delay your installation. By starting with professional window installers, they can fix any uncovered damage on the spot when installing your new windows.
If you break the window, you may have to buy another.
Even if you know how to properly install a window, accidents happen. If you drop the window or break it during a trickier-than-anticipated installation, it’s unlikely that the window will still be under warranty. Translation: You’ll have to buy a new one — and pay for it again. Professional window installers guarantee that windows are installed properly, and many offer an installation warranty.
Improperly installed windows can lead to water damage.
If a window isn’t installed correctly, water could seep into your home, causing mold and damage to your walls. (Water damage can cost thousands of dollars in repairs, depending on its extent, and cleaning it up will likely require professional help.) Any damage that occurred as a result of a DIY window installation probably won’t be covered by a window manufacturer’s warranty. Using a professional installation service or a replacement window contractor, on the other hand, often comes with a labor warranty.
Your old windows could contain lead paint.
Homes that were built before 1978 may contain lead-based paint on the windows and window sills, which can be a serious health hazard for both children and adults.
In 1978, the federal government banned lead-based paint from being used in homes. But houses that were built before that date may be harboring this potentially dangerous metal. Older homes — such as those built before 1960 — are even more likely to be harboring lead than those built in the early 1970s.
If your home’s existing windows may contain lead-based paint, and the paint is chipping, peeling, or damaged in any way, you’ll need to make sure the area is properly sealed and cleaned when removing the windows. A lead-certified contractor can follow the guidelines from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to test the windows and perform a lead-safe replacement.
You risk an accident.
Installing a window yourself on an upper floor may require using a ladder, which comes with the potential for serious harm if a fall occurs. Each year, more than 500,000 people are treated for ladder-related injuries, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The greater the number of windows you need to install in your home, the more often you’ll have to climb up and down a ladder — and the more likely you may be to fall. Professional window contractors have the expertise and equipment necessary to safely install your windows.
You’ll have to haul away the old windows on your own.
After removing old windows, DIY installers will have to clean up the area and dispose of the windows themselves — probably by taking them to a landfill. But if you hire professionals, they will haul the old material away for you. Window contractors often work with window recycling companies or deconstruction services, so they may be able to divert your old windows from ending up in a garbage dump.
Being environmentally friendly, maintaining personal safety, and the mental ease of knowing the window replacement was correctly installed are just a few of many reasons why a contractor is a route to go when changing out your old windows.