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Old 05-26-2009, 04:03 PM   #1
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Problem with window and everything around it


I was trying to plan how to insulate an exterior wall in the bathroom. There is a window in the wall. Underneath the window frame there was a piece of wood stuck into the wall. This piece of wood was not attached to anything; it was just there in place of missing bricks. It was not mortared in or anything. I could see daylight behind it and I pulled it out with my bare hands. I then saw more damage to bricks, mortar and wood inside the wall. There are many cracks where the elements can get in. After struggling with the storm window and removing a pane, I climbed out on the roof. There were patches of ugly clapboard siding on the outside. Some of the clapboard had already fallen off over the years. Still trying to get to the root of the problem, I ripped off the aluminum flashing which was holding the (rusted) aluminum storm window into the frame, and found a large log which had been roughly shaved to fit into a hole and replace some missing bricks.
Where am I going with this? Not completely sure. There are a lot of problems here and I don't really know what to do about them. I guess I'm trying to explain that I am screwed because now I have a missing window, I have torn off the siding and whatever inadequate protection the storm window and falling-down siding was providing. I'm looking for some advice as to what I'm supposed to do next, other than coordinating several different contractors and paying them $15000 to fix this set of problems, or selling the house at a loss.
The window frame and window itself are badly deteriorated.
Based upon what I know, which is not much, I think I have to:
1. Replace the wooden log and the other piece of wood with new brick.
2. Remove the window frame and replace it with new wood which is not rotten and deteriorated.
3. Clean up the window or replace it. But even if I can make it look respectable again, the window isn't suitable for a bathroom shower. The glass isn't safety glass and it would be in the shower. And I've read that wooden windows don't last long in showers.
4. Try to make the fixed-up window or the new window fit into the new frame.
5. Do something outside, around the window at least, so the spalling, deteriorated, broken brick won't keep deteriorating and letting water into the house. This solution should look better than what is there now so my neighbors don't have to look at an ugly mess like they have been doing for years.

I know basically how to work with bricks and mortar. I can work with wood and I know how to cut sheet metal/aluminum. I just don't know if I'm on the right track. What am I supposed to do to deal with this window and make it so it works properly, it's safe, the area around the window is not letting water and insects into the house, and it's not ugly on the inside or outside?


Window before I started taking it apart.




Deterioration of window


You can see the piece of wood below the window which is filling in for some missing bricks.


The piece of wood just comes out with no effort.


Another piece of wood taking the place of bricks, on the outside. Also notice the deterioration of the outside window frame despite a storm window and siding and flashing (partially removed)


I hate everything about this picture. The flashing, the spalling brick, the holes in the mortar, the clapboard, and the appearance of the windows. I should apologize to my neighbors.

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Old 05-26-2009, 04:19 PM   #2
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Problem with window and everything around it


If that window is in the shower, remove it and brick up the opening. Find another location for a window or skylight. If you really, really want some light, brick up the bottom 3/4 of the window and put glass block at the top.
If you need ventilation, install a vent fan.
All that wood around the window looks original to the house, though the old mineral siding over the brick seems an odd application. But without it, that wood would be exposed to the weather.
Where is this house and how old is it? Is the construction the same with the other houses on the block?
Ron

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Old 05-26-2009, 04:48 PM   #3
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Problem with window and everything around it


Ron6519, I have thought of replacing this shower window with a skylight and have been negotiating with a skylight installer, so I will seriously consider your suggestion. Bricking up the window might be the easiest thing to do. Although, the house was built somewhere between 1910-1930, maybe it's slightly older than that. I actually found some gas pipes for lighting in some of the walls. Anyways, the mortar is the old-fashioned kind and the mortar they are selling today isn't the right kind to use. I don't want to damage the original bricks by using the wrong mortar. And I won't be able to find bricks that look the same.
Could I use glass blocks in the entire opening? Or do you definitely recommend bricking up most or all of the opening?
I don't know how old the wood in the window frame is. It is probably original. But I think the siding was added later and they attached wood furring strips to the brick at that time, for the siding. I don't know this for sure.
I would like to remove the siding because it's ugly and it's falling off anyways. But I'm sure it's there for a reason - the bricks are spalling and the mortar is damaged in places.
The house is in The Junction neighborhood of Toronto. This neighborhood has existed since the late 1800s. Most of the houses and buildings around here look like they date from that period up to WWII. There are some newer exceptions.
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Old 05-26-2009, 05:11 PM   #4
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Problem with window and everything around it


Quote:
Originally Posted by malfunction View Post
Ron6519, I have thought of replacing this shower window with a skylight and have been negotiating with a skylight installer, so I will seriously consider your suggestion. Bricking up the window might be the easiest thing to do. Although, the house was built somewhere between 1910-1930, maybe it's slightly older than that. I actually found some gas pipes for lighting in some of the walls. Anyways, the mortar is the old-fashioned kind and the mortar they are selling today isn't the right kind to use. I don't want to damage the original bricks by using the wrong mortar. And I won't be able to find bricks that look the same.
Could I use glass blocks in the entire opening? Or do you definitely recommend bricking up most or all of the opening?
I don't know how old the wood in the window frame is. It is probably original. But I think the siding was added later and they attached wood furring strips to the brick at that time, for the siding. I don't know this for sure.
I would like to remove the siding because it's ugly and it's falling off anyways. But I'm sure it's there for a reason - the bricks are spalling and the mortar is damaged in places.
The house is in The Junction neighborhood of Toronto. This neighborhood has existed since the late 1800s. Most of the houses and buildings around here look like they date from that period up to WWII. There are some newer exceptions.
Are the other houses on the block, brick? Have any of them been covered with another siding material? If not, do you see a wood buck surrounding their windows? Maybe there was a perimeter molding around the exterior hiding the wood frame. If there was , there should have been a flashing detail over the window, incorporated into the brick, to make sure water was stopped from getting in.
There should be information and supplies available to get the mortar ingrediants so they are compatable with what you have. A local mason supply outlet should have both the info and the products you need.
As to the window and brick wall, as old as it is, I would make it as waterproof as possible and remove the window totally. I don't think windows belong in a shower at all. Unless the shower is very large.
If the brick and the mortar are as deteriorated as you say, I would have the structure evaluated to see what needs to be done to fix the situation.
Exposing it to the elements might not be an option .
Ron
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