March 3, 2021

Replacing Your Old Drafty Wood Home windows

In numerous older homes, the windows have the old style sash weights plus pulleys and are single pane cup units. Not only are these kind windows inefficient against heat reduction, most are glazed with glazing putty that has cracked and dried through age and is most likely missing. Take a good look at the your windows and examine the sash weight cords to see if they are broken as well. Missing or terribly frayed sash ropes can be harmful as it makes the window difficult to make and by using a prop stick to keep the window up in warm weather, you are inviting an accident when someone accidentally knocks out the stick and the window comes crashing down on tiny fingers perhaps or even worse the neck!

If your survey shows the windows to indeed be old style single pane windows it is time to substitute them with new thermally efficient and far easier to operate units. Replacement home windows come in all shapes and styles nowadays. Most commonly seen are white or brown vinyl types as these are the cheapest to buy. Many manufacturers will make custom colored units for your task. All brands are not the same however. The cheapest units feature one piece vinyl extrusion frames that will allow the exterior chilly to transmit directly through the framework materials and emit cold directly into to the inside of your home. The inside of the frame is about the same temperature because outside. Brrrrrr. A better quality windows will have what is called a “thermal break” located approximately halfway with the frame made of insulating material which will stop the cold at that point. Much better idea. Glass types. Again there are several choices. Insulating glass which contains two panes of glass by having an inert gas in between is much better than single pane windows at any time.

A step up, is when the inside of the glass is coated with what is called a “low E” coating. This lets the suns heat radiate to the home but won’t let it go back out. It is a few dollars a lot more but with today’s energy costs intended for heating fuels, it is well worth it. Down side? Most vinyl windows are manufactured only in white or dark brown colors. Some companies produce customized colored vinyl but again these are more money. A second type of replacement window is made from a vinyl clad exterior plus an exposed wooden interior. This provides a maintenance free outside that you do not need to paint and allows painted interior side that you can match the color or maybe stain, to match the decor of the room. Some companies produce these types in colored exteriors as well and am have seen red, green, blue but remember the windows will be there for any very long time! You cannot change the outside color once they are installed. Lastly, there are all wood replacement windows offered but with all the other options, unless you love to paint outside on a ladder they may not be the best choice. An exception would be a historic restoration where matching the window design is critical. Even wood windows come today with thermal breaks plus low-E glass. Vinyl replacement windows fit right into your existing windowpane openings.

Another great advantage to alternative windows is the window sashs point inside for easy cleaning. No longer hanging out windows or balancing upon ladders. Most windows have 2 slide type locks on the top of each sash and by simply sliding the particular sash up a few inches and pushing on the locks, a slight tug on the sash top, tips it into the room for cleaning. Whenever done, simply push the sash back into it’s track. HINT: Whenever cleaning these windows, pull and tip the lower sash inside first but clean the top window first and replace it into it’s frame. This helps prevent dripping your cleaner on the bottom window. Most vinyl windows I have found so far also feature a pull out tab lock for the upper sash on each part to prevent the lower sash from becoming lifted more than a few inches when the tab are in the open position. Their own use is twofold. Windows could be left open a few inches to get ventilation without worrying about someone getting in from the outside. Of course if they really want within, they will simply break the glass. These tabs are not burglar evidence. The second and more important reason for the tabs to me, is to allow you to leave the window open for venting but small children cannot climb out the window and suffer a nasty fall. All windows also include one or two sash locks for home security. Depending on the width of your window, the manufacturer decides how many locks the sash requires for the best protection. Lastly, several windows also feature an adjustment screw that allows you to stiffen the amount of draw the window requires to glide it up and down. The window is adjusted in the factory plus seldom needs further adjustments.

BUYING WINDOWS- Ok, we have decided to replace the windows. With a writing mat, pen and measuring tape making up you order is quite easy. You are likely to take a minimum of 5 measurements for each window opening. HINT: Do not believe two windows are the same size simply because they look the same. Measure them all!
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Older windows were hand built and can vary 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch. If your too big, you wasted a window, if you are too little, you will have to re-trim the opening and end up with an unsightly finished item. Ok, you must measure the width from the opening three times. Once at the bottom, once in the middle and once at the top. You measure inside the wood parting bead in which the old sash rides against the frame. DO NOT measure parting bead in order to parting bead. You want your new window frame to slide into the aged frame. Hence three measurements. This can tell you the narrowest part of your own old frame and this will be the size you order your window. Illustration:

Bottom = 32 1/2″

Middle=32 1/4″

Top = 32 3/8″.

You would order your window to match an 32 1/4″ opening hence allowing the window to slide into the opening. The same idea works for the height as well. Measure the still left side and right sides of the opening from the high point within the sill to (where the bottom sash sits when closed) and the best (where the top sash sits whenever closed). Take the smaller measurement of the two and that is your height Amount the window openings as you measure them so if there are different dimensions, you will know where they go when you have them. With all the measurements is hand, your off to the store. Once you have selected the style, color and price you want, the salesman will take the order. HINT: Ask the sales person for a delivery date. Try to get him/her to put in down on the invoice so you can keep track of the order. With respect to the time of year, windows can take weeks to reach. No one will guarantee a date but this gives you some idea of when to start checking on them. Check the purchase form very carefully before you order or give a deposit check. Once purchased, they cannot be changed. Look for volume, color, sizes and style. If your existing home has what are known as 6 over 1 windows (6 small panes in upper sash, one large pane in lower sash), you may want to match that style. Windows do come in 1 more than 1, 4 over 1, 4 over 2, 4 over four, 1 over 1, you get the concept. There are countless combinations to choose from. We ordered several windows for a consumer once and specified 2 more than 2 style. The windows came with the muttin bar (the item that separates the panes associated with glass) in a horizontal position not vertical. I had never seen that will before but since I had not specific it exactly, the company would not take them back. Whatever type you order, make sure your order slip says which is what you are getting. Now sit back plus wait for the windows.

PREPARATION-Tools required-Measuring tape, pencil, 2′ and 4′ levels if possible, razor knife, pry bar or “cats paw'”, caulk gun, Phillips screwdriver, paper towels plus nail punch. SAFETY GLASSES PLUS WORK GLOVES! Materials required-Windows, four, 6 and 8 penny brilliant finish nails, small tube wood putty, approximately 2 tubes an excellent source of grade exterior caulk in a color to match your window per window (depending on size), small Phillips wooden screws, loose fiberglass insulation.

Remove all interior window blinds, shades plus curtains and put to the side. Very carefully, making use of your razor knife, cut along the inside window trim and the wall if required and along the trims on the inside of the particular window frame. This will help prevent cracking the wood when you remove it. You are going to re-install these trims. Carefully plus slowly, pry the trims reduce watching for concealed nail mind (especially common style with a big head) that will crack your trims if you pry too hard. Most of the time the finish nails will simply pull through the cut and you can remove them later. Lay every piece of trim directly to the side of where you removed it. You cannot utilize it elsewhere. It won’t fit! Remove or even pull all the nails out at this stage in time. We don’t want a nail injury from a rusty protruding toe nail. With all the trims removed, look in the underside corner of the frame and you will look for a small wooden “door” held in place with a screw. The screw may be covered with paint so you might have to dig around a little. Doors are often 6-8″ high so start generally there. Remove the screw allowing you to pry the door out and reveal the inside of the window frame. Now lift the lower sash all the way up. Look inside the door, you should be able to see the end of the sash weight. If not, may worry, the sash cord is just short.

Now using your pry bar, remove the wooden parting bead keeping the sash in place. It operates the entire height of the opening plus looks about 1/2″ square. You may more than likely break it into a million pieces. You are not going to use this again anyway. Once one side is out, the sash will slide out from the opening. Hang onto it! Carefully take away the sash cord embedded in the wallet on top of the sash. The rope may be held in place with a little nail. Just remove it. You can let go of the cord as the knot will stop it at the pulley. Lay the sash to the side. It is junk. Right now remove the second parting bead. Again, carefully pull the sash wire in far enough to cut the particular knot from the rope. When you let go this time the sash weight may crash to the bottom of the small door you opened. Reach in and remove it. Also junk. Keep on until you have removed the inside parting beads (do not remove the outside two as the new window will rest against them as a stop), four sash weights, four pulleys, etc . leaving you a clean opening. Scrape any loose paint or even gunk built up in the openings. This where you get to install some of that will loose insulation. Stuff the wallets and any openings in the frames. The use of the expanding foam products is possible but be very careful. It does have the ability to actually bend or bow the wood when it expands. There are now non-expanding types which you could also try. The goal is to leave no openings where outside air can infiltrate into your home causing drafts and loss of heat!


It is helpful if you have a helper at this point to work outside while you work inside. Test fit your window unit. It should slide all the way into the opening, stopping at the outside parting bead. If it fits, you measured properly! Now after removing the screen, place a good bead of exterior caulk on the inside of the exterior parting beads on both the sides and the top piece. This will seal the new home window to the existing frame. Make sure the vinyl fabric window expander is sitting on top of the window before putting it into the opening. It looks like a piece of channel, the same length as the width of the window and is usually shipped in place. Carefully slide the new home window into the opening making sure it makes a tight fit against the outside stops. As soon as in, using your levels, check to make sure the new window is level plus plumb in the opening. This is important! If it is out of level or plumb the window will not close or lock properly.

In each side of the window jams, the manufacturer leaves a small window to allow you to insert the anchoring screws that will secure the window in the opening. Use the screws that come with the window. Be careful when installing the particular screw you do not pull the frame out of level or square by inserting the screws TOO RESTRICTED! Use some paper towels to remove any kind of caulk that squeezed out of the external parting beads. You don’t want caulk all over you. Have a garbage handbag handy for used towels. Check out the window. See how it looks. Is it straight, level and plumb? Work the sash to make sure they glide up and down easily, lock and suggestion in as they should. Some windows have side jamb adjustment screws that allow you to add a little pressure contrary to the sash to “tighten” them upward. Do so slowly. You will also receive four small plastic covers to go over the holes for the mounting screws. They are always a bear to install yet put them in. It makes the opening cleaner and keeps out little hands. Next we will finish the outside. In your window kit, you also received a metal trim piece approximately 3/4 x 3/4″ angle that matches the color of the window. This particular piece will close the starting between the new window and the sill. Remember there is no parting bead situated here. Fill the space with some reduce insulation and place the angle in to the opening sliding it under the window. I have seen them installed position in or out and it is really whatever looks best and suits the sill the best. Screw the angle in place on the window as well as the sill with 4-6 screws. Caulk the angle neatly to assure simply no rain water may enter. At this point slide the top expander channel up-wards until it is in firm contact with the house exterior trim. Screw this particular to the window frame on each side. Again, neatly caulk the particular channel to assure no rain, drafts or critters may enter. The outside is done.

The interior trim is slightly more work. Make sure all the nails happen to be removed. Starting with the top interior head piece, place the trim in the opening and see if it still fits. Usually, the vinyl window is much deeper than the original windows making the trim now too wide. Meticulously mark the trim and cut to the correct width making sure that once the face or casing trim can be installed it provides a tight fit. The particular window sill comes next and the remaining two sides. Now the casing pieces can be reinstalled. These should fit right back where they will came out without cutting. If you are cautious you will have a neat finished opening along with only the nail holes to putty and touchup the paint. Once more operate the window to make sure nothing has changed during trimming and if functions right, move on to the next window! There are several types of accessory vinyl windows currently available that can be ordered to fit in an existing opening. For example a Mini-Greenhouse unit that can be ordered to fit in your existing window opening ca provide an excellent place to raise herbs in the winter time..

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