Replace or Not Replace 1980’s Pella windows

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Replace or Not Replace 1980’s Pella windows

#1 Post by Bmowery »

Hi there - new user, first post.

We bought our 1959 ranch style home right before the pandemic, in Jan. 2019. The previous owners had recently (within 10 years) installed Pella Architectural windows on the front of the house, but did not replace the windows in the primary bedroom or the family room/den…on the back of the house.

The primary suite and family room were added in 1986, which is when the 1980’s Pella windows and 2 doors were installed.

The windows have a large upper section are of one fixed pane and a removable (for cleaning) interior pane. The lower, smaller, section of the windows has an exterior pane that cranks open as casement windows do, plus an interior pane that is removable.

The doors have two glass panels - one fixed and one removable. The doors are not my favorite. I can feel heat and cold around the areas where they are installed, which tells me they are not energy efficient. Lately they have been making popping noises that I learned from a thread on your site is from normal expansion and contraction.

I would like all the windows and doors to match, and would really like energy efficient windows and doors. I love the look of the architectural windows and doors - we “only” have 7 of those 1980’s windows and 2 doors left. All the others are the Pella architectural windows and doors that are reminiscent of mission style, but hint at mid century style.

All that information leads to my question: what is the manufacturer suggested/reasonable product life for windows? What questions should I be asking, and what should I be looking for to tell me that it is (or is not) time to replace those windows and doors. Not liking them is not a reasonable justification for spending money. Improving energy efficiency or reducing drafts might be. Safety definitely would be a reason (not implying there’s a safety issue, just giving that as an example).

We like to be proactive about home maintenance, but don’t want to spend money foolishly.

Thank you,
Betsey Mowery
Little Rock, Arkansas

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Re: Replace or Not Replace 1980’s Pella windows

#2 Post by HomeSealed »

Betsey, regarding service life, I like to break windows into four categories based on my experience over the years:

1) "Throw away windows". These are generally falling apart in 10 years or so give or take, and are commonly referred to as "builder grade" and used in new construction.

2) Windows designed to last a little bit longer but often find themselves in the "throw away" category due to maintenance. Despite the high price tag, your windows are often found in this category as the are commonly destroyed by condensation and a failure to maintain the finish in the first 10-15 years. If you have gotten 37 years of service out of any of these units that is extraordinary.

3) Average to above average windows which are generally good for 15-20 years without seeing too many service issues.

4) Excellent windows that are engineered to last 30+ years, and ultimately will probably only be replaced when new advances in technology render them obsolete.

Most professionals that take the time to contribute to forums and blogs such as this are going to prefer category 4.

Lastly, regarding "signs that its time to replace", many of them are obvious: failed glass seals, deteriorating wood/finish, operational issues (difficult to move etc), drafts, etc. If your windows are really not showing any of these signs, once again that is remarkable given their age, but at that point its up to you to decide of you want to ride them out a bit longer, or replace with something that will inevitably be more energy efficient and provide an updated look and feel in your home.

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Joined: Sun Nov 05, 2023 10:14 am

Re: Replace or Not Replace 1980’s Pella windows

#3 Post by Bmowery »

Thank you so much for your detailed and helpful reply! Your response is very helpful, and gave me the perspective I needed to appreciate these not-so-attractive windows that have lasted 37 years (!).

Our Pella windows have indeed lasted for 30+ years with minimal maintenance from the owners who had them installed, so that makes me appreciate their durability. I think we will start thinking about replacement windows when we can afford them.

Thanks again!

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