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Wichita Window Replacement Guide
If you find yourself sitting at the Wichita Grand Opera dreaming about the soprano’s high C shattering the glass in your home windows, it might be time for you to give serious thought to moving forward with a window replacement in your home. As windows age, their ability to block out solar heat, cold winter breezes, and dust begins to diminish significantly, especially if you have single-pane windows. In most instances, the only way to ensure optimal energy efficiency for your home is by opting for windows that have been certified by Energy Star. Yet, most homeowners don’t know which windows would qualify for this designation–let alone when a window replacement is absolutely necessary or any municipal regulations. With the help of this Wichita Window Replacement Guide, you’ll have a solid basis of knowledge to help you make decisions confidently in regards to your home’s well being.
How to Know When a Window Replacement is Necessary in Your Wichita Home
If your windows are older, but still allow your home to easily maintain a constant temperature, block out solar heat, and create a perfect seal when closed, then you have little need to warrant the $10,000 to $20,000 expense of a replacement for all of your home’s windows. Unfortunately, that is not going to be the case for most older windows, especially if they are hung with single-pane glass. This type of glass usually allows massive amounts of air to filter through the fenestration, resulting in utility bills that are roughly 12 percent more expensive than they would be otherwise. Although you can opt to hang draperies, add insulation sheeting, or install storm windows, these options tend to more temporary in nature and only add varying levels of more protection. If you are like the 47 percent of homeowners (NAR) who long for better energy efficiency, then replacing your windows with Energy Star rated options is the only way to go.
Between Wichita’s hot, humid summers and cold, dry winters, it is easy to see how a window’s framing could become warped and rotted over the years. Vinyl windows are especially susceptible to structural degradation, especially if they are in direct sunlight on a daily basis. When the framing swells and shifts to the point that your windows can no longer open easily or at all, then emergency exits are no longer functional and having them replaced is in your family’s best interest. In some instances, windows can change size so significantly that cracks between your exterior walls and the window casement can appear. These cracks allow moisture to seep into the your home, slowly rotting away a wall’s framing and potentially encouraging mold growth. Rotted wood is a problem whether it is inside your walls or on your window’s frame. Fortunately, if you catch it in time, you can do a simple repair with epoxy that can greatly prolong the life of your window. When you factor in structural repairs, utilities saved, and the NAR’s claim that you can recoup upwards of 80 percent of the renovation expense in increased property value, most homeowners agree that replacing a window as soon as these issues become significant is wise.
Window Materials Matter in Wichita, KS
Advances in technology have made it where windows can be almost as insulating as your home’s walls, but only if you choose windows made for your type of climate. The 2012 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) and Energy Star have made it easy to know how well a window will perform if you know how to read their designations: U-value, Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC), and low emissivity (low E). U-values numerate the rate at which a home’s internal air is transferred through the window into the outside air, with the lower U-value indicating better insulation. Optimal SHGC ratings are far more climate specific in nature since it evaluates how well a window can block solar heat from ever entering a home, and certain climates require more transference than others. Low E is a specialized metallic coating that aids the window in further reflecting radiant solar heat. For the same reason SHGC varies, low E is available in a low-, medium-, and high-solar-gain. Energy Star, also, judges how well a window is able to maintain its insulation under changing air pressures and temperatures. The best way to ensure sound insulation is to choose double- or triple-pane glass that is filled with a gas like argon. Though you should consider your home’s orientation and level of shading type when determining the best window for your home, the average Wichita home would likely want a window gas-filled, multi-pane glass with a U-value of 0.3 or below, a SHGC equal to or less than 0.25, and a low-solar-gain low E coating.
Framing materials, also, have a significant impact on a window’s overall U-value and need to be chosen with care. With Wichita’s climate in mind, the framing material that can offer your home the most protection will be any nonmetal material that has been thermally improved or insulated, such as vinyl, fiberglass, or wood. With thermally improved or insulated vinyl, you can expect your windows to last for upwards of 20 years and require virtually no maintenance in that time, though they are susceptible to degradation when in constant hot sunlight. On the other hand, thermally improved wood or composite frames have a life expectancy of 30 to 40 years or more and you have the versatility to change their color at any point along the way. Wood’s main downfall is cost since it is usually carries the biggest price tag of any material available. Fiberglass, on the other hand, tends to fall between the vinyl and the hardwood both in terms of durability and longevity. If you need help deciding which is best for your home, talk to a local professional who has had experience with how Wichita’s climate impacts each of these materials over time.
Wichita Window Permits, Inspections, and Fees
The City of Wichita requires that either the homeowner or their contractor acquire a building permit prior to starting work on their renovation, though they warn homeowners that if they choose to take on this process that they, also, need to be willing to accept the liability were something to happen. You will need to take a completed application and the appropriate fee to the 7th floor of the City Hall office located at 445 N Main, Wichita, KS 67202 for the city proper and 1144 S Seneca, Wichita, KS 67213 for Sedgwick County residents. So long as you are not making structural changes to your home, you will usually not need to include plans with you application. Once the permit is issued, then work can begin on your renovation. Don’t forget to schedule an inspection with a city official as soon as construction has been completed, too. If you have any questions, feel free to call (316) 660-1840.