Ultimate window replacement guide in the Cowichan Valley [2023]

With heavy rains and colder temperatures on the horizon, now is an excellent time to consider window replacement. But how do you ensure you not only get the best price, but also a high quality product that will last for decades to come?

It’s important to choose a Vancouver Island window company that offers quality products and expert installation. Cheap and improperly installed windows may reduce your window’s energy efficiency or may need to be replaced prematurely — so choose your window replacement company wisely!

How to identify the best replacement window companies

One way to determine the best window companies is to analyze their products and services. Investigate the quality of their new windows, their installation methods, and whether they have ENERGY STAR rated windows suitable for the Victoria climate.

Recommendations from friends and neighbours, as well as online reviews, are great ways to find the best window companies. In Canada, Homestars and The Better Business Bureau are great resources for window company reviews. You’ll be able to see what past clients didn’t like about the company, and how the company dealt with the problem. Recommendations from friends, family and neighbours is another great way to find a window company you can trust.

Using energy efficiency ratings to compare window companies

Only use a window company that has ENERGY STAR rated windows appropriate for the climate on Vancouver Island.

This Natural Resources Canada website lists performance information on windows from ENERGY STAR rated companies, and you can also search window products on the CSA Certified Product Listing page. Both ER Ratings and U-Factor play an important role in determining whether any window is efficient enough for Victoria.

An ER number is a more encompassing measure of how a window transfers energy. The more heat it gains rather than loses, the more efficient a window is considered. The minimum ER number for energy efficient windows is usually 34, which is also the minimum number to qualify for grants and rebates as well. It is always important to look at the SHGC number to see how it plays into the window rating.

The U-Factor, on the other hand, assesses a window’s resistance to heat loss. This is especially important to consider in Canada as we often have longer nights in the winter where it is essential for a home to retain as much of its heat as possible.

Comparing window installation techniques

There are two types of window installation: full-frame replacement and retrofit (insert). Although some window companies do both, beware of companies that disguise one as the other. There are plenty of window companies in Canada that are selling retrofit windows at the price of full replacement, which hurts consumers.

In a full-frame replacement, the existing window gets removed down to the wall studs surrounding it. This is also the time when installers address any moisture damage or rotting wood in the walls surrounding the window. Any bad or old parts are cut away and replaced with new components. In a full-frame replacement, your vinyl windows come with new vinyl jambs, vinyl brickmoulds and customizable casings.

None of these components get replaced in a retrofit installation. A new insulated unit is inserted in place of the old one. Because the frames aren’t stripped down there is really no way to tell whether there is damage or any signs of leaks. The existing brickmould is usually covered on the outside with aluminum capping. Although capping can look as appealing as a single piece brickmould, it is not as efficient of an exterior finish as a brand new vinyl brickmould.

Discount window replacement companies may only retrofit windows, which means underlying issues in the walls surrounding the window won’t be addressed. Ecoline Windows believes full window replacement is always a better long term investment — and full window replacement is also their specialty!

Why warranties matter when choosing a window company

Modern vinyl windows have a lifespan of roughly 25 years, so look for companies that offer warranty terms close to that timeline. Remember, the manufacturer’s warranty doesn’t cover installation, so check the company’s labour warranty as well.

Check how long the insulated glass units, vinyl extrusions, and labour are covered for. Some companies will offer a 5-year labour warranty, yet classify things like glass unit replacement as ‘skilled labour’ and charge for it separately. The Ecoline warranty covers vinyl frame, seal failure, hardware, installation and labour for 25 years.

Remember that a long term warranty isn’t useful if the company no longer exists. Consider whether the company’s reputation and business volume are significant enough that they’ll still be able to service your windows 10, 15 or 20 years from now.

Ecoline Windows offers energy efficient windows in Nanaimo, Victoria and all other communities on Vancouver Island — including the Cowichan Valley. To find a cost-effective solution for your home, call 778-403-4748.

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