Repairing 100+ y/o windows

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  #1  
Old 04-29-13, 01:33 PM
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Repairing 100+ y/o windows

The house I recently purchased still has several old sash windows. Many are painted shut and those that aren't completely painted shut are at least painted enough that I cannot tell if they are double hung.

I plan on repairing all those windows this summer and am looking for advice.

I'll ignore reglazing at this time, I'm not sure it's needed.

1) Suggestions on what to use for stripping paint?
2) is "flat" spring bronze ok or should I splurge for "V"?
2a) Is the bronze for the lower sash supposed to go all the way up, or just half way so it seals when the window is closed?
3) Does anyone sell new three-track storm windows? I've found some where the upper glass is fixed, but I'd like three-track if my windows are actually double hung.

Any tips or advice that I'm not going to easily find online?

Thanks for any help. I'm sure I'll have more questions once I'm able to break the paint seals and investigate more.
 
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Old 04-30-13, 05:00 AM
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I'm not sure what your definition of reglazing is but I'd address any missing or loose glazing while I was at it - it will never be easier/quicker than when you have the sash out!

Are you wanting to strip off all of the paint? or just get things working? With the age of the house the chances are high that they have a lead based paint on them. You'd want to make sure you contained and disposed of all the paint chips! Sanding of lead based paint can release the dust into the air where it can be inhaled

I have the triple track storm windows on my house. The ones I've replaced came from Lowes but it's been quite a few years.
 
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Old 04-30-13, 05:20 AM
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For the windows I need to do this work on, all glazing is intact and glass is fine. I have another window that I do need to replace some small panes on, but that's for another time. If my repairs start to show that I need to reglaze, I will certainly do it now as opposed to later.

I think that I want to strip off all the paint. I have no idea how many layers. I do understand that the age reflects the possibility of lead and would prefer to not sand. I'm more looking at chemical recommendations.

Lowes has the best storms that my limited searching has found, but I believe my windows are too large for any of their storms. Any decent guides out there on how to repair the storms that I do have? Many tracks need to be realigned and have more [whatever they use for weatherstripping] put in.
 
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Old 04-30-13, 05:35 AM
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I don't do a lot of stripping but when a job comes up that requires it I normally talk to the paint rep at the store to get his take on which stripper will work best for the job at hand. I don't know how well they work on windows but I've heard that the peel away strippers are preferred when removing lead because it's easier to contain the debris.
 
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Old 05-01-13, 12:59 AM
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You would need custom storm windows which are hard to find. I don't know where you are located in New York but I know of one manufacturer.
Karey Kassl Corporation - 180 Terminal Drive Plainview, NY 11803
 
  #6  
Old 05-01-13, 05:40 AM
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Thank you, Johnam. The location is nowhere near me, but at least it's another option to look at.
 
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Old 05-01-13, 03:56 PM
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I'll ignore reglazing at this time, I'm not sure it's needed.
You'll probably find that you need to do some, particularly if you remove paint from the glazing. You've already said that you're prepared to address that if it's needed, so that's fine.

1) Suggestions on what to use for stripping paint?
Years ago, when my ex and I did this on our old house, we settled on an eco-friendly chemical stripper that suspended the paint in the gel and made complete disposal very easy. I don't remember the name but, since it reeked of oranges, it may have been Citristrip. That, or either of the other two recommended by This Old House in this article should work well.

2) is "flat" spring bronze ok or should I splurge for "V"?
2a) Is the bronze for the lower sash supposed to go all the way up, or just half way so it seals when the window is closed?
One of the best decisions I ever made in working on the windows in that old house was to trash all of the metal weatherstripping "improvements that the POs had installed. Yes, I had to use a bit of lattice on a couple of sash to restore them to a working width, but it wasn't a big deal. But doing that restored the access to the weight channels, allowing the weights to be re-attached and the windows to be restored to full function. Air infiltration was minimal around each re-worked window.

3) Does anyone sell new three-track storm windows? I've found some where the upper glass is fixed, but I'd like three-track if my windows are actually double hung.
They are reputed to be. Here's an interesting article that includes a reference to them: Preservation Brief: Conserving energy in historic buildings.

Any tips or advice that I'm not going to easily find online?
Just one. Wooden screen window frames are really easy to build, cover and hang. You could have them built by any local cabinet shop if you don't want to do it yourself.

Once you've got those, you can mount any storm window you want on the inside of the screen frame. If you need to rout or plane into the back of the screen frame to get your chosen storm to clear the sash, that's fine. Done right, it won't be visible from the outside and won't be noticeable from the inside.

I had fixed-glass units made to fit on the back of the screen windows I made for our old house. I had to take them out and store them every spring. In hindsight, I would have relieved the backs of the screen frames enough to install sliders with removable panels. That would have been nice to have in the spring and fall. Glass only, double track -- the screen is always in place.
 
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Old 05-02-13, 05:49 AM
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Thanks, Nashkat1. My main reason for wanting triple-track is so that I can lift screens up to go outside on the lower roof. But only two windows actually allow access and they have storms already (I just need to find a way to repair them).*

I've read very mixed reviews on Citristrip. Makes me wonder if it's only good for either newer or older paint. I'll look that the ToH article. I read a different one that mentioned a good product, but I cannot find that product anywhere around me.

I'll consider building out the windows instead of installing expensive bronze. Hopefully I have the skills and tools needed. Did you wind up using any weatherstripping anywhere?

* Were I to simply make full outside screens; how much of a downside would it be to simply get rid of the storms and build interior storms out of wood and plexiglass to be put up in the winter? The main downside I can come up with is condensation (which is pretty much good enough to not do it)(and after reading that article, I see that it is advised against for this very reason). I wonder if silica gel packets would be of any use.
 
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Old 05-03-13, 10:07 PM
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My main reason for wanting triple-track is so that I can lift screens up to go outside on the lower roof. But only two windows actually allow access and they have storms already (I just need to find a way to repair them).*

* Were I to simply make full outside screens; how much of a downside would it be to simply get rid of the storms and build interior storms out of wood and plexiglass to be put up in the winter? The main downside I can come up with is condensation (which is pretty much good enough to not do it)(and after reading that article, I see that it is advised against for this very reason). I wonder if silica gel packets would be of any use.
That's an option, and the technology has certainly evolved in the 30 or so years since we were doing our renovation. We thought about it, but decided against it for two reasons.

One was that we enjoyed the look of the restored and refinished windows and their hardware so much that we didn't want to obscure that look in any way. The other reason, which was just as compelling, is that where we were, in Nashville, the weather in the Spring and Fall can vary significantly from week to week and day to day. I don't know how important that would be where you are, but we only got around to adding central air after we had lived there about ten years. The storm windows were only in place for three months, and being able to walk from window to window and adjust them to let air flow in and out was very important to us.

I've seen interior storm installed in a number of historic buildings since then. They can be both attractive and unobtrusive, but they're still there. Mostly, but not exclusively, these were museum houses that had no one living in them. In a home, I would want units that could be removed and set aside easily. That's why I don't really like the heat-shrink or other plastic film treatments either.

Condensation forms when you don't have an adequate thermal or air movement barrier, or both. We found that with well-fitted windows and our screen/storm units, that was not really a problem. One more reason I shy away from interior storm windows, BTW, is that I really don't want the condensation on the inside of the actual window. I'd much rather have it form on the inside of an exterior storm unit where it can't harm the interior finish.

As for the silica gel, sure, that might help. But it's a technological fix for a technological screw-up, IMO. Besides, I haven't seen it in 4 or 8 oz. packets.

I'll consider building out the windows instead of installing expensive bronze.Hopefully I have the skills and tools needed.
Nobody's born with them. You'll acquire them them as you go. There's a really excellent article in the current issue of Old House Journal on repairing wooden windows. You should also be able to still find this issue on the shelves at your local home center or book store. One piece of advice from the author, right at the top, is
"As a beginner, start with sash from the barn or back room, where your early results will be good enough as you improve your technique. Once you have done 10 sashes, trying to do better each time, you’ll be more proficient. By the time you get around to the front windows, your glazing will look just fine."
Did you wind up using any weatherstripping anywhere?
Only on the doors. Not on any window.

Oh, yeah. Buy a package of canning paraffin at the grocery. Rub the outside edges and the face margins with a block of it. Rub it into each track, too. Do this each Spring and Fall and you should be able to enjoy the beauty and function of your windows for decades to come.

What do I know now that I wish I'd known when I started? Hmmmm.. Yes. Use sash chain to connect the pocket weights to the sash. I had to go back and do this after only about 5 years.
 
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Old 05-05-13, 04:03 PM
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Thank you so much.

It looks like I've already read that article on windows. I'll pore though it before I begin anything.

I'll give some thought to chains too. I'm still in a struggle with the fiance over whether our nonexistent money gets spent on new windows because she is convinced that it is necessary. It's interesting that people who cannot do repairs seem to think that new items (or expensive repairmen) are the only solution. As such, I want to do a window or two as simply as possible just to convince her (or at least make her begrudgingly say aloud) that repaired windows are fine and we don't need to spend thousands on replacements.
 
  #11  
Old 05-07-13, 08:49 AM
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I removed one lower sash last night. Easy enough, once I started cutting the paint away from the stop instead of cutting into the middle of the trim. With all that paint, it was hard to tell which corner was the meeting between trim and stop.

It looks like with will be a multi-week project where I fix it up a little, put it back together, and then start from the beginning and go further the next week. I think I lack the tools needed to really rebuild the windows at this time, but I can at least break the seal on everything and have them sort of functional for now. Then I'll track down pullies and see about getting weights made if I cannot find them in the windows themselves.
 
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Old 05-08-13, 02:46 AM
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Here is a source for parts you may need. This company sells to the trade but I'm sure they will give you the name of a local dealer. When you get to the site, click on Window Replacement Hardware and then look at pages 114 to 115.
Strybuc Industries - Window and Door Replacement Hardware
 
  #13  
Old 05-10-13, 07:27 AM
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I took out another sash last night. The last "repair" included nailing very long brads all over the place. Just horrible. The sash is in such rough shape that I'm not sure I can really repair it at this time. I have very few power tools and, even if I had them, I have no place to put said tools.

For now, my job will just be to free all lower sashes and see about getting sash weights and chains. I spoke with a gentleman at a scrap yard to see if he had any weights. From the look on his face, you'd think that he had been collecting weights for the past 30 years and just melted down his entire stock last week. But he said he'd be on the lookout for weights as they come in.

The rest of my summer will be fixing/buying storm windows. Maybe I can get to rebuilding sashes this year, but I think I'll just wind up using rope caulk this winter and do the actual rebuilding next year when I can afford some proper tools.
 
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Old 05-12-13, 02:33 PM
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I think I lack the tools needed to really rebuild the windows at this time, but I can at least break the seal on everything and have them sort of functional for now.
I'm trying to remember the tools I used. A glazing tool. Something to cut sash coed with - probably side-cutting pliers. Something to cut the tips off the screws that secured the sash cord to the sash - the side-cutting pliers again. A putty knife for easing the inner stop off and for tapping through any sealing paint along the blind stop. Sandpaper. Glue and brads to attach new wood to the sides. A jig saw to cut the slot for the sash cord in any new wood on the sides. A small block plane. A set of nail sets. A small hammer. A block of paraffin. A couple of long bar clamps to hold added wood in place until the glue set.

Besides the jig saw, the only power tool I remember using is a corded drill. I used that, with a screw-shaped bit, to drill three holes through each inner stop, because i'd decided to mount those stops with brass screws and trim washers, for looks and to facilitate future access.

It's mostly a matter of patience and care, not high-tech tools, as I recall. Yes, your windows and mine were factory-built. But they were modeled on ones that had been site-built in earlier times.
 
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Old 05-12-13, 02:52 PM
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I've used a citrus based stripped around the house. I can't recall if it was Citristrip or another brand. I was just using it recently and I find it had a hard time getting the old oil based paint off. It works great with latex. It doesn't seem to go through too many layers either. I went and got one of Kleanstrips versions and had better luck. I'm sure there are much better ones available. Maybe not through the big box but a professional paint supplier.

You definitely don't want any lead dust floating through the air. Especially if you have little ones running around. Using a stripper will be the safest option to prevent lead contamination of the house.
 
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Old 05-12-13, 04:41 PM
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Besides the jig saw, the only power tool I remember using is a corded drill.
At least two windows are so bad that they really need to be rebuilt or get a lot of rotted wood chiseled out and have new wood put in. I'm not sure I can make new wood the correct size without a planer/table saw. To say nothing of all the parting beads I have a feeling I will be breaking. But we will see. Maybe it will just involve increasing my hand tool collection.

@drooplug
Thanks for confirming my guess on Citristrip's abilities. I'll check some of the smaller local paint stores for ideas.

I don't have any little ones, but I won't let that stop me from being safe-ish. I plan on putting plastic barriers around the windows when I strip and/or sand.
 
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Old 05-12-13, 05:19 PM
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I don't have any little ones, but I won't let that stop me from being safe-ish. I plan on putting plastic barriers around the windows when I strip and/or sand.
Do not dry sand the paint at all. Fine dust hangs in the air for hours and will permeate every nook and cranny of your home. It will lay itself into the cracks of your flooring.
 
  #18  
Old 05-12-13, 05:43 PM
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Fine. Safety it is.

But now I'm running out of reasons to get a 4" belt sander. I cannot just buy it for no reason at all. Guess I'll use that money to get some Trojan sawhorses. Or buy food and pay bills.
 
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Old 05-12-13, 08:24 PM
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Fine. Safety it is.
Sounds like you're getting it. "First, do no harm." No need to be embarrassed about that!

But now I'm running out of reasons to get a 4" belt sander. I cannot just buy it for no reason at all. Guess I'll use that money to get some Trojan sawhorses. Or buy food and pay bills.
I really wanted a 4" belt sander too... wait, I did get one. What was my excuse? I think it was to even up the new floor boards on the front porch. That would be a few years after doing the windows.

Those Trojan sawhorses look really nice. The "sawhorses" I got were two pairs of sawhorse brackets. Still have them. I really like being able to cut all the way through a workpiece and, when needed, just make a new crosspiece for the horse.

At least two windows are so bad that they really need to be rebuilt or get a lot of rotted wood chiseled out and have new wood put in. I'm not sure I can make new wood the correct size without a planer/table saw.
I'm guessing, since you read the article on repairing windows, you may have seen this one on How To Make a Dutchman Patch too.

I've never owned a planer or a table saw - I never had a good nough excuse. I've done a lot of wood restoration without those tools. Fillers ranging from epoxies and consolidants to Bondo can be your friends for painted areas. For stain-grade, clear finish work I've always found that my hand tools will do all that I need. But everyone's working style is different.

For now, my job will just be to free all lower sashes and see about getting sash weights and chains. I spoke with a gentleman at a scrap yard to see if he had any weights. From the look on his face, you'd think that he had been collecting weights for the past 30 years and just melted down his entire stock last week. But he said he'd be on the lookout for weights as they come in.
You can try Windowweights.com or Mighton Products if you can't find them locally.

Michael, I'm enjoying your approach to this, which sounds like keep at it but don't push too hard, enjoy the work, and learn as you go. And be sure to impress your fiance with your know-how!
 
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Old 05-13-13, 06:05 AM
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I'm guessing, since you read the article on repairing windows, you may have seen this one on How To Make a Dutchman Patch too.
I know of them, but I never saw that article. Thanks for the link.

Guess I'll put "router" at the top of the list. That's satisfying enough.

EDIT: Any suggestions for a router purchase?
 

Last edited by Michael Rivers; 05-13-13 at 08:24 AM.
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Old 05-15-13, 02:15 PM
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Any suggestions for a router purchase?
I've never owned nor used a router, so none from me. Lots of other members here have, though, so you may get some knowledgeable advice.

I would go to the Fine Homebuilding archives to see if they have reviews.
 
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Old 05-19-13, 08:31 AM
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After doing very little work, I have three more windows that have functioning lower sashes. While this is much less than half of the total work I need to do, it certainly makes the windows about 90% as good as having both sashes work. Now I can get airflow how I want it...

Except for my bedroom. While the sash (the lower one, anyway. I haven't freed the upper) has the necessary channels and holes for sash chain/rope, the side jamb does not have an opening for a pulley. I'm thinking about getting an adjustable sash balance to take care of it. But I would welcome any input before I do so.
 
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