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Information About Window Replacement in Maine
Coastal regions and frequent snows give Maine precipitation numbers well over the average for the U.S. That, combined with the area’s long, cold winters, mean that residents here need to consider the weather, as well as beautification concerns, when replacing windows. Choosing the right window for your state’s climate, as well as opting for high-efficiency measures like energy-saving coatings, can keep your home comfortable, dry, and draft-free, as well as lowering your utility bills. This guide will take you through the ins and outs of window installation in The Pine Tree State, including what permits are required, how to hire a contractor, and of course, how to select the most efficiency product for your home.
Things to Know About Window Installation in Maine
Thankfully, a window replacement is not the most complex home improvement project, but it is a little more complicated than an average homeowner can manage on their own. Ideally, unless you’re very familiar with window repair, a qualified contractor should be called in for installation—an experienced workman can make sure that your new window is installed in accordance with area zoning regulations and manufacturer guidelines.
Window installations can also work to reduce your energy expenses. Homes often lose heating and cooling to drafty or poorly insulated windows, so replacing yours with an updated model could potentially allow your HVAC system to regulate your home’s temperatures more efficiently. If you do elect to install an energy-saving window, you may also be eligible for area incentive programs that can help make the project more affordable. Local utilities and municipal governments may have offerings available for homeowners like you who are looking to reduce their home’s energy consumption, so check with yours to see if there are any incentives available.
Since a window replacement is fairly simple for your average contractor, the project should generally take no longer than an afternoon to complete—it could possibly go in in as little as an hour or two. However, if you are hoping to enlarge the wall opening surrounding the window, or need to take down storm panels before installing, the project could take a little bit longer.
Hiring a Contractor for Maine Window Installation
When hiring a contractor, it’s a good idea to shop around—gathering at least three different estimates will help you get a feel for what’s a fair rate for the work in your area. It’ll also allow you to select a contractor who fits your communication style. A worker who can communicate well and answer all your questions clearly is a valuable asset, so make sure to factor that into your decision.
Contractors in Maine are not required to be licensed through the state, although your local building department may have a local licensing program. Contact your local government office to see if your contractor needs to carry a license, and if they do, ask your potential contractors to see theirs. Additionally, since licenses are not necessarily required, it will be up to you to do your due diligence to ensure that your candidates are qualified and experienced. Always ask contractors in this state to provide references—a good contractor will be happy to comply. Also request proof of their liability and workers compensation insurance, and trust your instincts. If something feels off, then it probably is.
After you decide which contractor to go with, they should send you a copy of a full contract to sign. Review the details of this contract to ensure that they match those you were quoted in your estimate—don’t sign a contract if the numbers have changed. A good contractor should also be able to explain and review any questions you have about any of the clauses. If the contractor requires a deposit before work can begin, make sure you understand which portion of the job your deposit covers. After both parties have signed, request a copy of the contract for your records.
Permits for Window Installation in Maine
In some cases, you may not need to pull a permit for your Maine window replacement. However, particularly if you are making changes to the window size, you may be required to file a permit application before beginning your project. Your permitting office may also ask you to submit additional documents—like plans detailing the replacement, the window’s manufacturer specifications, or copies of your homeowners insurance plan—along with your application. You should contact your local city or county building department to understand what is required before beginning to plan your repair.
You should also check to see if there are weatherization or energy code requirements for windows in your area. If so, your choice of windows may need to be tailored to meet those regulations. If there are parts of your application that require technical knowledge about your purview, ask your contractor to help you complete those items. They should be able to help.
Preparing Your Property for New Window Installation in Maine
While not a complex project, you can do some things around your home before your contractor arrives to ready the area for work:
- Remove window treatments and wall hangings that may be disturbed by the construction.
- Trim away tree branches and foliage that may be covering the window’s exterior.
- Move furniture and rugs out of the way of the workers. Cover expensive items with drop cloths to protect them from flying dust and debris.
- Temporarily deactivate your home security system, if you have one.
- Shut pets away in a confined area so they are not accidentally let out by the workmen.
Maine’s Climate Concerns for Windows
Maine’s location in the high northern reaches of the United States mean that weatherizing a home is very important. You’ll want to invest in window glazing that can help insulate your home and frames that can protect it during fierce winter squalls or hurricane weather.
If you live along the state’s coastline, you may be required to purchase impact-resistant windows with glass that is rated to withstand certain wind speeds or pressure loads. Your local building department should be able to provide you with the particulars of your area’s requirements.
Meanwhile, you’ll also want to pay attention to the insulative properties of your windows, as well, to keep your home warm during cold weather. Your window’s glazing and insulation can help significantly here. Particularly a window’s U-factor measurement, a rating given to the product’s glass by the National Fenestration Ratings Council (NFRC), will help you determine how well the window glass will insulate your home. U-factor ratings range between 0 and 1, but the lower the measurement is, the more securely the window will insulate a home. In Maine, windows should have a U-factor no higher than 0.30, but for superior energy performance, look for those models rated 0.25 or lower.
Typically, industry ratings like the U-factor will be listed on the product’s packaging or with the brochure that accompanies the window. You can also check this location to see if the window bears an ENERGY-STAR certification. This means that the product was reviewed by the EPA and found to demonstrate maximum energy efficiency among similar products. When you purchase ENERGY-STAR products, you may also be made eligible for rebates from your local utility and government, as well.
Understanding Maine Window Ratings
There are other measurements besides the window’s U-factor that can help you determine how the glazing will perform once the model is installed in your home. These include the following:
- Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC): This measurement tells how much solar radiation a window allows through to your home. A window with a higher SHGC can be used in colder areas to help offset heating costs.
- Air Leakage (AL): Air leakage indicates how much airflow a window allows through its glass, an important measurement for energy efficiency, and particularly for homes in windy areas. A measurement of 0.30 or lower is ideal.
- Visual Transmission (VT): This measurement indicates how much light a window allows through its glass.
Window Styles and Frames for a Maine Property
A window should also work to fortify your home’s exterior and improve its overall appearance. Accordingly, there are many different styles of window and window frames to choose from:
- Arch top: An arch top window has a tall rectangular lower portion with a rounded, decorative arch above.
- Bay windows: Bay windows form a three-dimensional area that projects outward away from a home’s exterior—perfect for installing a window seating area.
- Box windows: Usually hung in panels of three or five windows, these contain small, square panes arranged in a box pattern.
- Double hung: Double hung windows contain two sashes, divided along a horizontal center line. The upper and lower sash are both operable and can be opened independently.
- Elliptical: Elliptical windows are shaped in a long half-circle for a decorative accent in a larger room.
- French casement: Opening outward, similar to French doors, these windows provide an alternative to single-hung windows.
- Picture windows: Perfect for a gorgeous view, picture windows’ single inoperable pane of glass gives them poor insulation ratings.
- Single hung: A single operable lower sash can be pushed above the upper portion in these classic windows.
In a Maine home, a window’s frame plays a very important part in protecting and insulating your home. Here are some of the particulars of the different options available:
- Aluminum: Ideal for areas that experience high winds and cold weather, aluminum is tough and low-maintenance.
- Composite: Composite frames are a good option for those who favor the look of authentic wood frames, but are deterred by drawbacks like frequent maintenance and replacement.
- Fibreglass: Sturdy fibreglass frames are durable and can be combined with insulation.
- Vinyl: Naturally insulative, pockets of air in vinyl frames help slow drafts. Vinyl is also sturdy and fade-resistant.
- Wood: An authentic option, particularly for historical homes, wood is nonetheless a high-maintenance product that requires frequent replacement and repainting due to warping and moisture damage, and may not fare well in wet Maine weather.
Glass Options for Maine Windows
Beyond a window’s glazing and its frames, windows can be insulated to protect against the elements and reduce heating costs, as well as coated to help maximize energy efficiency overall. Here is a bit about those options:
- Single-pane windows: Single pane windows are just that—a single pane of glass placed into frames without insulation. These have almost been completely replaced by newer, more efficient double and triple-hung windows due to their poor efficiency, and are not recommended for Maine homes.
- Double-pane windows: Double-pane windows contain a layer of inert gas trapped between two panes of glass. The gas works as an insulator—slowing drafts and reducing heat loss due to air leaks.
- Triple-pane windows: For homes in very cold areas, triple-pane windows offer additional protection using a second layer of insulative gas.
- Low-E glass: Low-emissivity glass is a very thin transparent coating that can be added to window glass to increase the overall efficiency of your windows, no matter the weather. These coatings reflect infrared heat back into a home, improving both heating and air conditioning efficiency.
Benefits of Installing New Windows in Maine
In Maine, a new window installation can be used to reflect the flavor of your area’s architectural heritage, improving curbside appeal and increasing the market value of your home. However, investing in energy-efficient and storm-proof models will help lower your overall expenses, and provide some peace of mind, no matter how fiercely the winds blow outside.