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When you’ve decided that it’s time to replace the windows in your home, it can be tempting to consider tackling the job on your own. You’re sure to save money, and that’s a huge plus. The window unit comes intact, so it should just be a matter of pulling out the old and popping in the new. That seems simple enough. How hard can it be?
To be honest, the job is more complex than it appears. If you aren’t experienced in window installation, it’s probably best to lean toward having them professionally installed from the start. We’ve got a few points for you to consider before making your final decision.
The Dangers of Do-It-Yourself
First and foremost, you need to think about the safety factor.
Unless you’re working on the kids’ playhouse, window installation is bound to have you working from a ladder at some point. “According to the National Safety Council, in 2017, over 36,000 people died from falling either at home or at work. Window units are usually installed from the outside. Carrying things up and down a ladder is awkward, and windows are cumbersome. It’s probably best to consider a professional if you don’t have experience in the field.” said Randy Reece, CEO at Reece Windows / Builders, Inc.
Risking physical harm is certainly a huge consideration when thinking about installing new windows in your home as a do-it-yourself project. However, it isn’t the only factor to consider.
Flushing Out The Risks
Let’s say you’ve decided to take on the job, and it’s now complete. You’re feeling pretty good about yourself because—lo and behold!—everything looks great and works well!
Don’t give yourself a pat on the back just yet though. Are you sure you crossed all the installation checkpoints off your list? Improperly installed windows are sure to cause you problems at some point.
If you didn’t take the time to make sure your windows are level, plumb, and square, you’re going to be dealing with mechanical issues in the future. So, if you aren’t familiar with those terms, installing windows on your own can become quite a headache. It can try the patience of professionals. It’s likely to get frustrating, especially if you don’t have someone with experience helping you out!
Windows that aren’t level usually rub on the jamb, making it hard to get things lined up properly from that point on. If your window isn’t installed level, it’s likely to cause you to lose your Energy STAR rating. The main reason is that the window sash isn’t going to line up with your weather stripping. Air is going to find its way through every tiny opening left exposed, making your energy efficiency value fly out the window for sure.
Moreover, ensuring the unit goes in plumb and square are both essential to proper installation as well.
- Plumb—When your window is installed out of plumb, sagging corners can let moisture in, and mechanical issues are likely to occur.
- Square—This term means that the unit is both level and plumb. Failing to ensure the unit is square further effects its energy efficiency and operation.
Keeping Moisture Out
Once moisture works its way past the window unit into the interior of your home, it continues to spread. Moreover, it can go undetected for an undetermined length of time. Moisture will eventually cause problems with mold and wood rot.
Besides rain and snow being part of the problem, if you ever deal with hot, humid conditions in your area, it provides a perfect environment for mold to thrive. Sadly, the longer it remains in your home, the greater the risk to your family.
Mold can cause serious health issues for anyone living in your home. Often the symptoms of exposure include:
- Runny nose
- Itchy or watery eyes
These symptoms grow worse with continued exposure. If anyone living in your home has asthma, mold exposure can trigger it and may cause a severe attack.
Mold is dangerous for your pets as well. In fact, it can be even more dangerous for them due to the fact that their immune systems aren’t as advanced as ours. When your pets inhale mold spores, it can cause fever, lethargy, and respiratory issues. Symptoms can include:
- Difficult or rapid breathing
- Nasal discharge
- Possible bleeding from the nose or mouth
- Skin rashes and sores
Wood rot is caused by a fungus. It settles on the wood and begins to build colonies that suck the nutrients and moisture from the wood. Like mold, once it gets started, it spreads. The wood becomes spongy, crumbly, or stringy. In its weakened state, the wood eventually gives way. If things get that far, the end result may be catastrophic.
Left unchecked, wood rot will destroy a home over time.
It’s essential that you properly install the moisture barrier. If it’s not properly installed, you’re setting yourself up for mold and wood rot to eventually take hold. In addition to a moisture barrier, installing flashing around the windows provides added protection. It deflects rain blown at your windows from every angle during a storm.
And the winner is…
Deciding to install your windows on your own shouldn’t entirely be about the amount of money that you’ll save. As a matter of fact, if you consider the amount of time that you’ll be investing yourself, the risk of improper installation, and the danger factor, the savings might not seem to be as great as you first thought.
Take the time to get some estimates from reliable contractors before making the final decision. Many of them offer in-house financing to help you fit the job into your budget. Another thing to think about is whether or not installing windows yourself will void the manufacturer’s guarantee. It’s often stipulated that windows must be installed by a professional contractor trained to follow the manufacturer’s installation method.
Weigh the pros and cons carefully and whatever your final decision, it’s sure to be the best choice for you and your family.