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Baltimore Window Replacement Guide
Homeowners are generally at a loss on when and how to begin a window replacement renovation, and understandably so since most have only gone through a renovation of this type once or twice at best. Whether your reasons for considering new windows is purely aesthetic or in hopes of improving your comfort level and energy efficiency, it is best to have a good understanding of when a window replacement is necessary, what window materials are available, and any municipal requirements that will be placed on the homeowner. With the help of this Baltimore Window Replacement Guide, you will be well on your way to becoming one of the 61 percent of homeowners who “have a greater desire to be home since completing [their window replacement] project,” according to the National Association of Realtor’s 2015 Remodeling Impact Report (NAR).
How to Know When a Window Replacement is Necessary in Your Baltimore Home
The longer a window has been exposed to the elements, the more damage they likely will have sustained. Warped and rotten window frames can lead to leaky cracks whereas older, single-pane windows can allow drafts from even the softest of winds. Depending on the type of damage you have noticed, there may be some repair work that can be done to postpone a full window replacement for a while longer. For example, you can choose to install weather stripping along the edge of windows that no longer sit plum, or fix small rotted areas with a little epoxy. However, if your windows allow for moisture to enter the exterior walls of your home, you should definitely choose to not only have them replaced, but also, have your contractor check that no structural decay or mold growth has occurred which could impact your home’s structural integrity and your family’s health. Similarly, if your windows no longer function smoothly, it is best to have them replaced for emergency safety reasons.
Drafty windows are incredibly energy inefficient which ups your utility bills and shortens the life of your HVAC unit. When you choose to replace single-pane windows with Energy Star approved windows, you can expect to decrease your utility bills by 12 percent or more, resulting in a savings of hundreds of dollars annually. Add in that NAR has seen property values increase upwards of 80 percent when homeowners upgrade their windows and tax returns due to state incentives, and most people find that they experience an exceptional return on their investment.
Window Materials Matter in Baltimore
The majority of homeowners state that the main reason they choose to renovate their home’s windows is to improve energy efficiency, and the only way to ensure you do just that is by picking the right window for the job.
With vast technological improvements, a homeowner now has a number of framing materials and combination of materials to choose from, though the most common are aluminum, vinyl, and wood. With Baltimore’s cold, wet winters and hot, humid summers, aluminum or any other metal framing would not be able to meet the high standards set by Energy Star or the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). However, thermally improved and insulated wood or vinyl frames definitely will. As to which is best for your home, that all comes down to budget and personal aesthetic. Wood is classic, versatile, and incredibly durable, but will require steady maintenance over its lifespan and will be at the top of any budget. Vinyl, on the other hand, is virtually maintenance-free and fairly inexpensive, but is susceptible to structural decay when in direct sunlight and extreme temperatures.
As for the glass itself, ideally, you should opt for gas-filled multi-pane windows since they will offer the best insulation and least amount of air leakage due to changing external air pressure and temperature. Glass is now, also, rated for how well it is able to maintain a home’s internal temperature by blocking transference through the fenestration (U-value), and its ability to block solar heat from ever entering the home (Solar Heat Gain Coefficient, SHGC). An additional low emissivity (low E) coating will further aid the window in reflecting back unwanted radiant solar heat. To best ensure exceptional energy efficiency and your own comfort, choose windows that have a U-value of 0.3 or below, a SHGC of 0.4 or below, and either a low-solar-gain or medium-solar-gain low E coating. A window professional can help determine your home’s specific needs by evaluating its orientation, shading type, and window area.
Baltimore Window Building Permits, Inspections, and Fees
The City of Baltimore does not require a building permit to be acquired when no structural changes are planned, unless your home falls within a zoned historic district. If you are unsure if your home fits this description, check the My Neighborhood Interactive Map. When you do fall within a historic neighborhood, you can download the appropriate permit application here. You will need to be prepared to submit plans and a fee at the time of submission, as well. If you have any questions, feel free to contact Permit Processing at (410) 887-3900, Monday through Friday from 8:30 to 4:30.