Replacing Your Old Wood Double Hung Windows
Let's say you're tired of those old wood windows, and you decide it's time to upgrade to vinyl replacement windows.
It's important to properly measure for your windows. If you order them too small, you're going to end up having toimprovise in order to get them to work. Even if you do get them to work, you're probably going to have problems. And if you order them toobig, you're really in trouble. Chances are you will be ordering more windows. So, measuring is very important. Fortunately, it's also verysimple. We are dealing with old double hung wood windows here, so if that doesn't apply to you, don't worry. Future articles will discussother types of windows. In the case of the wood sash windows, you want to measure the width first, and height second. When you go shoppingfor windows, always give the dimensions as WIDTH X HEIGHT. To measure your width, you want to pull a tape measure from the top right cornerto the top left corner. Measure in that 1 1/2" pocket that the window frame slides in. Measure to the sixteenth of an inch. Do the samething at about the midway point,right above where the window locks. Then, raise the bottom sash and take the same measurement at the bottom.If you can't raise the window for whatever reason, go outside and measure from there. You will have to remove the screen though.
The majority of the time all three of those measurements will be the same. If they're not the same, use the SMALLESTmeasurement. Now subtract 1/4" from that measurement. This is your width for the new window. The height is a bit tricky. If your windowsill outside slopes downward for water drainage, you have to make sure that you measure from the HIGHEST Point of the sill. You want tomeasure from the top right corner to the bottom right corner. Put your tape at the top where the upper sash closes. If the bottom has a 5/8"high inside wood sill piece to prevent water from coming inside, you need to raise the bottom sash and run the tape past the 5/8" silland down to the high point of the sloped sill. Do this in the middle and on the left. Once again, take the smallest measurement, butthis time deduct 3/16". This is your height. If you order your windows using these dimensions,they will fit right in, and leave justenough room to adjust if needed. The final step is to measure the depth of the pocket where both sashes slide. By depth, i mean from thepoint outside where the top sash rests against the outside wood stop to the point inside where the inside sash rests against the insidestop. This measurement should be between 3 1/4"- 3 1/2". The reason you need to know this dimension is because not all replacement windowshave a 3 1/4" depth frame. You want a replacement window that's going to fit right into the existing pocket of the wood frame. If youpurchase a window with a 2 5/8" frame depth, you're going to have approximately 3/4" to fill. That means buying new wood stops for theinside of the house that are 3/4" wider than the existing stops. Get the 3 1/4" frames and save yourself a lot of extra work. Now, ifyou're on a really tight budget, the lower grade windows will be the 2 5/8" frame, and you will have to get the wider trim. But that'ssomething you should weigh in your mind, whether the money saved on the lesser grade window is worth the extra expense and time of installingnew stops around the inside of all your windows.
So, now you have the measurements and it's time to go shopping. What should you look for to know you're getting quality windows? A top quality double hung replacement window will have tilt-in sashes that allow you to clean theoutside glass from inside the home. All double hung windows have a mechanism that keeps the window in the open position. The betterwindows use a state of the art mechanism known as a constant force balance coil. All replacement windows will have double glazing, meaningthere will be two panes of glass in each sash separated by a 1/2"-5/8" spacer material around the edge of the unit. A quality window willuse an intercept spacer or something called a super spacer. Find out the U-Value of the window. The lower the number, the better insulatingproperties. You want a window with a U-Value under .40. There is a special glass called LowE that will lower that U-Value number. In fact,most quality windows include LowE as standard. Those are the main things to ask about when window shopping.
On the opposite end of the quality spectrum, you can buy an economical replacement window that will not have the tilt-infeature.The mechanism that holds the window open will consist of a block and tackle assembly made up of a spring and string. Another mechanismin lower quality windows is called a spiral tube balance. These lesser grade assemblies are notorious for failing after 5-10 years. Thespacer material used on lower quality windows will be aluminum or something called swiggle seal. And many times the U-Value of these lowergrade windows will be up around .50. The thing to remember is that a window that uses a super spacer more than likely isnt going to use ablock and tackle balance system. It would be like buying a new car with leather interior and no power window and door locks. Follow thoseguidelines and you will have a good idea what quality you are buying. Once you make the decision and purchase your windows, it's time toget them home and take out your old windows. Next week I will tell you how to remove the old wood windows.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
John Rocco has been installing
replacement windows since 1978
To learn more, visit http://www.vinylwindowsforless.com