Choosing a window company is about more than finding beautiful, energy-efficient replacement windows. You also need to be able to trust the company that’s handling one of your biggest home investments. Are they knowledgeable? Honest? Reliable? How can you be sure?
the right windows & right window company
At Improveit, we want all of our customers to have the best education in replacement windows and the window-buying process – even if they end up buying their windows elsewhere. To help you find the right windows and the right window replacement company, here five important questions to ask your window installers – plus three more you might not have thought of.
How long have you been in business?
How long have you been in business? Steer away from window replacement contractors that don’t have an established, long-standing reputation in your area. Instead, look for a window company that’s been in business for a long time – preferably decades.
A long company timeline should give you three important things:
- Several past projects to look at so you can see the finished windows on homes like yours (not just stock photos from the manufacturer).
- An extensive customer review history with insights on the company’s professionalism, process, and customer service.
- The security of knowing the company will be around to stand by their warranty and continue supporting your experience and future needs.
Additionally, long-standing businesses should be able to show a connection to the communities they serve. A recognized, respected brand with a series of happy customers is the best starting point for choosing a company you can trust in your home.
Are your installers trained and certified?
It’s more than just products that set a window company apart from the rest. Take time to learn about the company’s installation team and their process for putting new windows in your home.
When choosing a window company, look for:
- Installers that have stayed with the company for several years. This shows a mutual respect between the company and its installers. It also guarantees that the installers have long-term familiarity with the products they install every day.
- Installers that are trained by both the window company and the manufacturers of the products they install. Company training lets you know that installers are held to the company’s standards for providing a five-star client experience. At the same time, manufacturer training lets you know that they’re installing the products properly to guarantee their best performance. Make sure you’re getting both!
Can you install windows I purchased elsewhere?
This question is a reminder that finding a qualified window replacement company and finding someone to install windows is two different things. If you find a great deal on windows at your local big-box store and just need someone to install them, a handyman might be what you’re looking for, but keep in mind what you don’t get when you go this route.
A handyman or company that installs someone else’s windows might know how to install a window in general, but have they been trained to install the specific window brand you purchased? Probably not.
- If there’s a problem with the framing of the window opening, will they make the necessary repairs?
- How quickly?
- What about finishing the installation with exterior trim pieces?
- Is this service included or do you have to pay extra?
- Are you responsible for sourcing the trim material, or will they do that for you?
- And, finally, is any of the material or labor covered by a warranty?
When your home needs new windows, the last thing you want to do is become a general contractor for the project. Look for a reputable window replacement company near you that will provide all the materials, labor, and guarantees for one price. Then you can sit back and relax knowing your project is in the hands of experts.
Describe your installation process.
Once you know you’re working with trained and certified installers, ask about the process they’ll use when your new windows to go in. Respectful window companies will make sure your home is protected during installation. They’ll use dropcloths to protect your floors and belongings, wear booties when walking through your home, and will thoroughly clean up all debris and dust both inside and outside when installation is complete.
Ask about the process of installing the windows as well.
All window installers should ensure every window is the correct size for the opening, and is level and plumb before being screwed into place. The best window companies will also insulate and air seal around the windows to ensure the maximum energy efficiency for your investment. This step is often skipped altogether, or might be offered for an additional fee.
How much will my windows reduce my monthly energy costs?
Trick question! Any company that guarantees a certain reduction in your energy bills is guessing (at best) and at worst is making up numbers to get a sale. Heating and cooling costs make up about 40% of the average annual utility bill, but every home’s energy use is different. High-quality, energy-efficient replacement windows should reduce your home energy costs; however, there is no way to guarantee how much.
When energy savings is important to you, your best bet is to choose a company that offers windows designed to work best in your area of the country. If you’re considering a national window brand, find out if they install the same window in Ohio that they do in Florida, Colorado, or California. Your home energy use and your window needs are different from homeowners in other states – and the window you choose should be too. A window designed to work in your region will help you maximize the monthly energy savings for your home
What does your warranty cover?
Warranty language can be tricky to follow. During your window-buying process, ask the company to walk you through the details of what’s covered by their window warranty, what’s not covered, and how long coverages last. Specifically, ask about the following window features and components, and ask the company to point out the applicable clauses in their warranty.
All mechanical window components should be covered, though the length of coverage will vary. Some may be covered for a lifetime while others may have a 5- or 10-year warranty. Finishes may or may not be covered.
These types of damage are often not covered by window warranties. Some companies will cover broken glass or ripped screens up to a certain cost, and other will cover all glass breakage.
These components are often not covered. Window seals can deteriorate over time, usually within 5 to 7 years, reducing the window’s energy efficiency, and causing fogging and condensation between the panes. None of this can be repaired, which is why so few window companies include seals in their warranties. The best window warranties will include coverage for seal failures so you can avoid replacing your windows again down the road.
Look for a company that stands by their products and their installers by warranting the window and the installation.
Naturally, you’ll want the longest possible warranty coverage for your windows, which adds value to your replacement window investment. Limited warranties will have shorter coverage lengths, while lifetime warranties usually last for as long as you own the home. Some companies also offer lifetime transferrable warranties that allow you to pass the warranty along to new homeowners if you move and sell your home.
Each window company you meet with should go into detail about the features that allow their windows to perform well. Here are two important technical questions you should ask to ensure you’re really getting the best windows you can afford.
What is your spacer made from?
The window spacer is one of the four most important components of an energy-efficient window, along with the glass, frame, and sash. Spacers separate the two panes of glass, seal in the argon gas between them, and help prevent energy loss around the edge of the glass.
As you research your window purchase, avoid windows that use metal spacers. Metal spacers conduct heat, so windows that use them will never be able to offer the most energy-efficient performance – they’ll always be at risk of losing energy through the edge of the glass. Additionally, this heat conduction causes temperature variations around the edge of the windows that cause the glass to expand and contract. Eventually, this will lead to broken seals. Remember from our warranty question, broken seals further degrade the window’s energy efficiency and cause condensation and fogging between the glass that can’t be repaired.
With all of this in mind, windows with non-metal spacers and dual-seal systems are your best bet. They’ll offer better overall energy efficiency with less likelihood of broken seals down the road. Read more about why non-metal spacers are the best choice.
What is your air leakage factor?
In order to be rated by Energy Star, a national program that promotes energy-efficient home products, windows must have an air leakage rating of 0.3 or less. To earn this rating, window manufacturers submit their products for testing. The windows are properly installed and then subjected to significant air pressure to determine how much air leaks out of the home through the window components. A basic Energy Star window must achieve an air leakage rating equal or less than 0.30; the best windows will have ratings of less than 0.10.
we will check all your boxes
There are a lot of questions to consider when choosing a window installer. These will help you narrow down your choices to the companies that will give you the best possible experience. At Improveit, we’ll check all your boxes! We offer more than three decades of window installation experience, the most energy-efficient windows in our region with exclusive Air-Tight Installation, and a transferrable lifetime warranty that covers broken glass and broken seals for as long as your home is standing. We’re the remodeling company your neighbors trust.