Perhaps you bought a home and you are now discovering that your windows may not be in the greatest shape you thought they were in when you moved in. Or, perhaps you have recently had windows installed, and the contractor did not do as good of a job as they had promised. Either way, you do not want to wait until there is a problem – such as water damage to your home from a storm – to discover that your windows have not been installed correctly.

There are usually some telltale signs that your home needs a water damage Here are some ways to diagnose improperly installed windows—and what to do about it after the fact.

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5 Signs That Your Windows Were Not Correctly Installed

If you are unsure about whether your windows have been installed properly, there are common ways that you can tell for sure. The following are some questions you should ask yourself to determine whether or not your windows were installed properly.

1. Are there gaps between the window frame and the sill, or gaps between the frame and the wall?

Answering yes to these questions is a sign that your window installation contractor did not carefully measure the window from the inside of the home before installing. Also, if your window is not one of the water damage your contractor should have had a custom window built to sit flush against the wall, with no gaps in between.

2. Is your home noticeably drafty, or have your energy bills suddenly gone up?

One of your windows’ primary jobs is to keep you protected from the weather. If you notice that your home is less comfortable than it used to be, or if you hear or feel wind whistling through the window, this is not a good sign. It is also a bad sign if your energy bills suddenly spike. Air leaks in your windows can significantly impact your home’s energy efficiency. Be sure your windows are installed to keep the weather out—and your heating and cooling in.  If you notice heating or cooling irregularities as soon as the window installation is completed, make sure to call your contractor.

3. Do you see leaks or signs of water damage?

Another common sign of poor window installation is a leak, which can cause water damage in your home. Signs of water damage include peeling paint, sagging or puffy walls, rotting wood, and powdery black spots (i.e., mold) along the frame, sill, and adjacent walls. If you see this after the window installation, you will want to get it fixed as soon as possible.

4. Have you noticed condensation between the window panes?

Condensation between the window panes is one of the most obvious indicators that your windows were improperly installed. This is also a sign that moisture is getting inside the window. Usually, you will notice other issues along with this, such as drafts or rising energy costs. Either way, you should probably have a skilled contractor visit your home to take another look at your windows.

5. Are the sashes hard to open?

When you first have your windows installed, they should operate smoothly. They should be easy to open, with no creaking or sticking on the way up. If not, this is a sign that the contractor installed a sash that is slightly smaller or bigger than the rest of the window. This can lead to leaks, air infiltration, and mildew in the long run.

How to Fix Improperly Installed Windows

If you notice that your windows may have been improperly installed, you can try reaching out to the original window installer, asking them to fix the problem. If they are a quality professional that cares about their reputation, they should be quick to deal with the issue. However, in some cases, the best solution is to hire another contractor and have them remove the windows, and reinstall them correctly.

Tips for Hiring a Knowledgeable Windows Contractor

In a perfect world, every contractor would install windows correctly the first time. But sadly, that is not always the case. The following are tips to help you hire a knowledgeable professional for your window replacement.

Vet potential window installers

Finding the right professional to do a window replacement is not a decision you should take lightly. In order to vet window contractors efficiently, you should request quotes from three or four in your area. Examine their website to make sure they present themselves in a professional manner, and read what people have said about them on review sites. Then. go on to speak to each one, asking them the following questions:

  • How long have you been in business?
  • How much experience do you have with window replacement or repair?
  • What is your project estimate?
  • Can you provide a list of references?
  • Can you provide proof of insurance for personal liability, worker’s compensation, and property damage coverage?

Meet with your top choices

Meet in-person with your top contractors to review project-specific details and expectations for your window installation. Be sure to ask for proof of insurance, discuss who will manage warranty details and responsibility, and get a fixed price before signing a contract. Keep in mind that you can always negotiate the project cost.

Be aware of warning signs

In order to avoid hiring a dishonest window installer –such as those that flock to areas impacted by storms to scam homeowners—you should check their physical business address and validate their licensing. Be wary of contractors who request the entire project cost, or large cash deposit, up front. Do not feel pressured to sign a contract immediately. It is also a good idea to be familiar with typical costs and financing options for window projects, before speaking to contractors. This way, you will be able to better detect a quote or estimate that seems off.

Prepare for the final window contractor meeting

At the final meeting, there are a few steps to go over before the contractor begins your window replacement project.

  1. Reconfirm your initial quote.
  2. Agree upon a payment plan.
  3. Obtain a paper trail of the following:
    • Your contract
    • Project plans
    • Order changes
    • Bills and invoices
    • Proof of insurance and/or permitting, and
    • Contractor correspondence

Following these steps before hiring a contractor should ensure that they will install windows correctly and at a fair price.

At Modernize, we frequently speak to homeowners about their home improvement projects. In our recent interviews, 90 percent of homeowners requested a checklist to help them find and vet contractors. Modernize now offers homeowners a free, digital Contractor Checklist as a simple, step-by-step guide to assist with your windows project.