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When To Replace Basement Windows + Costs Involved

Sam Smith Foundation Repair Consultant

Old basement windows can be serious problems for homeowners

If you’re in search of accurate costs to replace basement windows, you’ve come to the right place.

Here’s what you’ll learn by the end of this article:

  • When you need to replace basement windows
  • Cost of basement window replacement
  • How to replace your basement windows
  • The different kinds of windows for your basement
  • How to save money when replacing basement windows

You usually know when your basement needs to be repaired because you’ll notice water leaks, foundation cracks, or mold growth. However, things like basement windows are less obvious when they need replacement but just as important.

Old basement windows can be serious problems for homeowners. They can let water, bugs, and cold air into your home and lead to bigger issues like water damage and high energy bills.

In this article, we’re going to explain how you can tell if your basement windows need to be replaced, how much it costs, how to do the repair, and how to save money when replacing the windows in your basement.

Signs That It’s Time To Replace Your Basement Windows

One of the hard parts about knowing when your basement windows need to be swapped out for new ones is that damage isn’t always apparent.

You need to pay attention and keep an eye out for the below signs that suggest it’s time to replace them.

They Stick When Opening or Closing

All types of basement windows are made to open and close smoothly as long as there is no obstruction. Your window frames may be damaged or not even installed the right way if your windows jamb when you go to open or shut them.

Sticking windows usually indicate that the frame is warped and doesn’t accept the window easily. It can also mean that parts of the frame have been damaged. Windows that don’t swing smoothly should be replaced no matter the reason for the sticking.

Feeling Drafts

Many homeowners complain of drafts in their living space but seldom even notice if they happen in basements.

Any damage or rotting to basement windows can cause cold air to seep in. The air leak can make your house uncomfortably cold in the winter and increase your electric bill and the strain on your heating system.

Replace any basement windows that are drafty as soon as possible.

Condensation Between the Window Panes

Your basement windows probably have double-pane glass in them unless they’re very old. New windows are made with two sheets of glass that sandwich a layer of argon gas to insulate for better energy efficiency than single pane glass.

An easily noticeable sign of window damage is condensation forming inside the insulated glass.

A sign that your seal has broken and the argon gas has escaped is if your windows get fogged up and can’t be wiped clear on the inside or outside. This means you have less efficient windows that need replacement.

Higher Energy Bills

You may not notice sticking basement windows, condensation between the window panes, or drafts, but a higher energy cost is something you probably won’t miss.

Keep an eye on your electric bill, and know that cost increases may mean damaged or outdated windows in your basement.

Frame Rot

Your basement windows are usually exposed to more water from rain than other windows in your house and have a higher chance of being affected by water damage.

Check your frame and windows for rot or other signs of damage that may require replacement. Damage is usually more apparent on wood windows than vinyl windows.

What Does Basement Window Replacement Cost?

The price to have basement windows replaced depends mostly on the type of window you’re installing.

Double-hung and sliding windows are convenient but are the most expensive, while glass block windows offer no fresh air but are the cheapest window options.

It will probably be most helpful to give the average costs of basement window replacement based on the kind of window being installed.

Starting with the least expensive option, glass block windows cost an average of $500 to replace. Doing the job yourself will cost about $150-250 depending on the size of the window.

Swinging basement windows that open from the bottom, side, or top usually cost between $250 and $300 if replaced as a DIY project. A professional installer usually charges about $600.

Double-hung windows average $400 for the materials and $750 total to have a contractor do the work for you.

Sliding windows usually run around $500-600 for the window alone. Installation can cost as much as $1,000 but averages $900.

How Do You Replace a Basement Window?

Expanding the window opening yourself isn’t recommended because it can damage your foundation. However, doing the window replacement yourself is pretty straightforward if you’re replacing a window in your basement with a new one that is the same size.

We recommend not doing this on cold winter days so that you aren’t in a rush to stop cold air from coming into your home.

Step 1 – Take Out the Old Window

Remove the window sash and cut out the old frame using a reciprocating saw. You may need a chisel to pry the frame out of the wall.

Step 2 – Clean Up the Window Opening

Use a chisel to remove any insulating foam or grout residue from the inside of the window opening. Rough openings will make installation of the new window harder.

Step 3 – Seat the New Window

Fit your new window into your wall and level with shims. Leveling will help the window sit properly and prevent damage or difficulty opening and closing. Screw through the window frame into your sill plate and framing.

Step 4 – Seal the Window

Use a waterproofing caulk and insulating foam to seal the openings around the new window. Attach your sash once these are set.

What Are The Different Kinds Of Basement Windows?

Basement windows come in a few varieties with varying styles and opening mechanisms. We’ll review all of them below so that you know what kind of window you have and which style you want to replace it with.

Glass Block Windows

Glass block windows are the cheapest because they don’t open.

They are the most energy efficient, offer the best protection against water, and allow a lot of natural light. However, they don’t allow fresh air into your basement.

Awning Windows

Awning windows swing open from the bottom. They offer good protection from rainfall but usually need to be set in basement window wells.

Hopper Windows

Hopper windows swing open from the top. They always open inward to prevent rain from coming in.

Casement Windows

Casement windows swing open from the side. They allow for good airflow and are good egress windows.

Double-Hung Windows

Double-hung windows are the most common in other parts of the home.

They slide up and down and can be opened at the top or bottom. These are good options for letting light and fresh air into finished basements.

Sliding Windows

Sliding windows are the most expensive and slide left to right. They are like sideways double-hung windows.

How To Save Money When Replacing Basement Windows?

The best way to save money on basement window replacement is to do the job yourself as a DIY home improvement project.

The process above is simple and can be done in a short amount of time. You’ll save hundreds of dollars on labor for each window installation.

Another good way to save on cost is to choose a replacement basement window that’s the same size as the old one. Adapting your window opening or buying custom windows can get very pricey.

Lastly, choosing cheaper window types like glass block windows can halve the price of materials alone, saving you hundreds of dollars per window.

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Sam Smith Foundation Repair Consultant
SHORT BIO: Hey, I'm Sam Smith. I'm one of our service techs here at Regional Foundation Repair. I'm here to help you learn more about your home's foundation. I've been doing this for a while, so I have a few insider tips and tricks to share!

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