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The Process of Installing Replacement Windows

What to Expect When Professional Installers Put in Your New Windows

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Replacement Window Installation

Replacement Window Installation Process

Copyright Pella Corp.; courtesy Pella Corp.
The process of substituting all or most of your old windows with new replacement windows is one that few homeowners go through more than once in their lifetime. Thank goodness for that! Replacing all of the windows in your house is extremely expensive. And when the installers come, they turn your house upside-down for a couple of days.

But what do the window installers do exactly? More importantly, what should you do? Let's walk through the replacement window installation process, as done by pros.

Day Before Installers Arrive

  • Touch bases with the salesperson or scheduler and confirm installation date and time.
  • Put Post-It Notes on the wall next to the windows to be replaced, specifying exactly which window is to go there and any special instructions. For example: 'double-hung, 30"x48", vinyl (please save old window).'

    Day One--Remove Old Windows and Begin Replacement

    • Touch bases with the job foreman and walk through house, going over each window. This is your chance to catch any errors the window company may have made in ordering your windows.
    • If this is a multi-person crew, one set of installers will bring in windows as another set of installers removes windows.
    • Walk through house on your own to ensure that installers have put down drop cloths inside. Optional: dropcloths outside if you have flowerbeds that you wish to preserve. Inside, dust barriers might be set up, but this is not really necessary as window installation does not create much dust.
    • Let the installers do their job. My motto on managing work crews in your house: be within calling distance if they have questions, but don't hover.
    • As removal continues, installation proceeds. Ropes for the window sash weights (if you have newer windows, you may not have these) are cut. Weights drop to bottom of window pocket. New windows are set in place and leveled with shims. With window level, it is nailed into place.
    • Installers periodically move old windows outside; the stack of old windows grows (the window company should include disposal as part of the contract).
    • The installers are now in a groove of removing and replacing. There should be little need for supervision, but it's always a good idea to touch bases with the foreman.
    • Depending on the size of your job, by the end of the day you might expect up to 10 windows to be done. You do not want any windows to be boarded over. Insist that each window space either be covered with a new or old window. No tools should be left in your house. Rooms are broom-clean. Old windows outside are removed.

    Days Two and Three--Finish Removal/Replacement; Begin Exterior Cladding of Windows

    • Installers arrive bright and early and continue removing and installing.
    • When the removal team is finished, they begin installing aluminum exterior trim on your windows. This exterior trim, or cladding, provides a tight seal against the weather. However, depending on your contract, this service may be optional.
    • In most average-sized houses, Day Two concludes the window installation process.
    • House is broom-cleaned and windows tested.
    • Work may extend into a third day in order to finish the process of installing the exterior cladding. You will not need to be present for exterior work, though if you have the time available, it's always a good idea to be around.
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