Double-hung windows - old ones - replacement or repair?
I bought a home that was built in 1940. It's showing its age because the previous owner(s) didn;t care much for it, so we got it cheap.
It is filled with all-wood double-hung windows. Single pane, with lots of open gaps between the upper and lower panes, and a bit of rot here and there.
We are on a tight budget. I love the double-hung style of the windows, and I like the wood frames, but I know we cannot afford to replace these babys with nice wood windows. In fact, we may be a bit too strung-out financially to even get good vinyl windows.
What are my options here? Can I pop out the panes and replace with double-pane replacements? Is it realistic to put the work into this? (time is the one thing I DO have, I'm unemployed, we bought the house on my wife's salary). I'm all for putting in the work if it means I can save some cash.
Any help is appreciated.
Unfortunately, removing the single panes and installing double pane IG's isn't very viable, because the width of the sash doesn't really support the added thickness of a double pane IG, it's probably doable, but the end result would probably look questionable unless you're skilled at it. So your most cost effective solution would be to remove the sashes and install vinyl block fit windows into the opening, assuming the wood sills and jambs are still in decent shape of course!
Couple things to keep in mind, first off. Your house was built into the 40's and you're almost guaranteed to have lead paint. This just means if you were to have these professionally done, they would have to do some extra work and they'd charge you for that, yuck! If you have children then you'd want to take extra care to clean any paint chips up and not let them fall into the dirt outside, even vacuum your floors with the exhaust from your vacuum being outside the home. Safety first!
Now, luckily installing vinyl windows into wood sashes is rather easy and there are a couple ways you can save some cash on them..
First off, get single hungs instead of double hungs, this could save you a couple hundred dollars on each window depending on the line/manufacturer. You get the same basic look but instead of both sashes moving, you only have the bottom sash thats operational. Plus the windows are more energy efficient, yay!
Secondly, some older homes will have 2 double hungs side by side with a hollow post in the middle which usually contains the counter weights and such, you can sometimes save some cash by removing the hollow post and replacing both windows with just one larger window. Usually though this means changing from single/double hungs to a slider style window. Which may or may not fit the theme of your home. I.E. Do you only have vertical windows and a slider would be out of place? How would that look from outside? Does it fit your neighborhood? Etc. These are things you should think about when changing the handing of a window.
Now! Failing all of that, if it's really just not in your budget, you could just refurbish your double hungs, sanding/painting and weather stripping will bring new life to old windows, and while single pane isn't as efficient as double pane, the addition of a good weather stripping job will do wonders for old wood windows. Just keep in mind if you do this, wear a mask appropriate to working with lead paint! And use proper clean-up methods.
edit: Just saw that you mentioned you have some rot here and there. Many times you can replace the outside stops on wood windows (the place the upper sash buts up to) with pine, or some other wood. Many times just the stops rot and you can cut them off with a sawzall. If your sills are rotted you can also remove those and replace them with 2X8's. Usually the old ones are about 6 1/2 wide so you can't use 2X6's, darn! If the rot is very minimal its very possible to just sand and fill the rotted section with some putty. Make sure any work or new wood you do is properly sealed before installing the new windows. I'd actually recommend you do a full sanding/stripping of the wood before installing the new windows, just so when you paint them, they look new and fresh.
How much effort you put into these windows depends on the extent of the rot and where it is.
You can retrofit insulated glass into a standard wood sash. It will require some routing of the wood to fit the new glass in. There was a "This Old House" show years ago that employed a company to do this. The guy brought his truck to the sight and modified the sashes right there.
Whether you have all the tools to accomplish this is another matter.
Thanks for the replies.
There's a lot to consider here.
I like both ideas - I'll look into the retrofitting and also the replacement sash ideas. There is some rot in the window frame that may make a good retrofit impossible, but I also have a good friend who is AMAZING with wood and can probably replace rotted sections if the work looks like it's worth it.
It will come down to cost. If the retrofits approach the cost of new windows, we may just go that route to save the headache of the labor, but at a sacrifice of materials (vinyl in stead of wood).
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