Full Episodes of Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford
Window Repair and Replacement for Your Home
By: Danny Lipford
Windows are a great way to bring the outdoors inside your home, but they can also cause problems. Watch this video to find out how to repair windows and replace window units in your home.
Window repairs featured include:
- Replacing window sash cords.
- Unsticking paint stuck windows.
- Weather stripping windowsills.
- Replacing broken window panes.
- Replacing window hardware locks.
- Replacing entire window units.
Read episode article to find out more.
Danny Lipford: If improving the windows at your house is on your to do list, you don’t want to miss this show.
Announcer: Today’s Homeowner with Danny Lipford, the voice of home improvement, with projects, tips, and ideas to help you improve your home.
Danny Lipford: Wood windows add a lot of character to an older home, they can also add to your maintenance chores, and if they’re real drafty they can increase the cost of heating and cooling your home. This week we’ll show you a number of ways to increase the energy efficiency of your wood windows, and we have a few tricks that we’ll share with you for making the windows operate a lot easier. And if you have a broken window pane, you might be surprised how simple it is to replace it.
Now, if you don’t have wood windows you may have double pane, insulated windows that have fogged up and really look unsightly. We have a very clever way of addressing that problem. And if you just decided to replace your windows all together, we’ll show you what’s involved with making that choice. Stay with us.
Danny Lipford: This week we’re looking at a number of ways to improve the windows in your home. Now, I’m in an older house that’s undergoing a complete renovation and the paint crew just finished the paint work on the inside as well as the out. Now, when you’re talking about wood windows like this, they can have a variety of different problems; and I think this particular window has all of those problems.
One, when they painted, they didn’t replace the hardware and doesn’t really work that well and doesn’t look that good either, so we’ll be replacing that. Also, the painters didn’t unstick the windows, so we’ll have to take care of that, because every room in your house needs at least one window that operates properly.
Now this type of window also has weights inside the wall, and those weights are attached to this rope that are attached to the window sash to make it easier to raise the window. And obviously there’s a problem here we’ll have to repair. That’s the first task we’ll tackle.
To begin with, the window trim has to go, in order to get into the wall where the weights are. But these old windows, like most of the ones that have these weight systems, have layers and layers of old paint and caulk on them. Cutting those layers with a knife before gently prying off the trim makes the process easier and prevents more damage to the molding.
When the wallboard beneath the trim comes off, we can actually get to the window weights. Now these weights are brick, but most of the time they are lead. In either case you’ll want to be sure the pulley on the top of the weight is fully functioning and well oiled so that the rope, which is usually cotton and may need to be replaced itself, can easily lift the weight up and down. I’m also clearing out a few obstructions in the wall cavity before beginning to put all the pieces back together.
Another common problem with wood windows is that they get painted shut and stay that way. Here again, the utility knife is part of the solution to patiently break the seal without breaking the glass. A putty knife or painters’ tool and a flat pry bar will also be necessary to get the sash loose and moving freely again.
Here that works a lot better. Now, this was fairly easy to unstick because the paint was only a couple of weeks old. But if you have some windows around your home that have been painted several times over the years, you’ll need to really be patient to use your putty knife around the perimeter of the window to loosen it up. And don’t put a lot of pressure on it with a crowbar, because you can break one of the glass panes or damage up some of the wood. Man we damaged a little wood here on our trim, we’ll have to do a little caulking there and paint that to get it back looking like it did before.
Now, to make this a little more energy efficient, one of the things that we’re going to do is apply some foam tape right along the bottom of the sill, so that the window sash sits down on it and blocks out all of that cold air. So first thing we’ll use this old paint brush I have to clear out the area where I’ll stick the tape down, we created quite a bit of dust and debris from getting the window unstuck. And I’ll use this damp cloth I have. Make sure that we’ll get a good surface for it to stick to. The foam tape like this is very inexpensive, available at the home center, and comes in a variety of sizes. And it’s as simple as just stretching out how much you need, and then you can just tear it, peel off the back, and you can apply it right in the little groove. There that should make a big difference and make this window a lot less drafty.
Now, fortunately on this window we don’t have any broken glass and really the only thing we have left to do to this window is to replace the hardware. But if you have a broken pane in one of your wood windows, fairly simple to repair. The most difficult part of this job is keeping yourself from getting cut by the broken glass, and a good pair of cotton gloves will help prevent that. Once again, the utility knife does a great job cutting through the old glazing putty around the pane, but the older stuff is a little more brittle and may need to be chiseled or pried out. The 5 in 1 painters’ tool is ideal for this job, because you can chisel, scrape, and cut all with one tool until the pieces of glass are ready to be lifted out.
Now, once the entire broken pane is gone you can accurately measure the opening. Now, you’ll want the dimensions of the new piece of glass to be about an eighth of an inch less than the opening itself, so that you have a little wriggle room to get it in place. Then I like to prime the bare wood before setting the new paint. The glass is actually held in place by the small little metal tabs, called push points or glazer points, which are pressed into the wood frame. Then the points are covered up by glazing putty, which in this case comes from a tube just like caulk. A little smoothing with the putty knife, a little drying time and we’re ready for paint.
I mentioned earlier how the old window hardware just looked so bad, it had been painted over several times and really didn’t work as well as new, a new window lock. And it was very easy to replace this, and very inexpensive, too. All I had to do was remove the four screws that held the old hardware on. Remove it, and fortunately my new window lock lined up perfectly with the four holes that we have there. I still will need a little paint touchup to make it look just right.
You know another very common problem with windows on newer homes is when you have two panes of glass, insulated glass, moisture gets inside the two panes and causes a real unsightly look to the pane itself. Well when we come back right after our Simple Solutions we have two different ways to approach this problem.
Announcer: It’s time for this week’s Simple Solution from home repair expert Joe Truini.
Joe Truini: A couple of years ago I built a small tool shed. And just when I thought I was done with it, I forgot I had to come back and put in a tool bench, so that I can store some materials. Now, I wanted it to be easy to build, because I have better things to do with my time, and I was already moved on to the next project; but the bench also had to be incredibly strong. So I came up with this system that works really well.
I cut two one by fours and a two by four diagonal brace, and I joined them together with some drywall screws. And I simply slipped the one by fours around the exposed stud inside the shed. Then I attached them with drywall screws, put one long drywall screw to the bottom of the 2×4 brace. Now this creates an incredibly strong bench because all of the weight is transferred to the diagonal 2×4 brace.
But the other thing I love about this is that if you notice, there are no legs in the way. So there’s plenty of space to store large boxes, and you won’t be bumping into any legs as you’re walking around there. And finally I just made a top out of some half-inch plywood, but you’ll notice I cut notches to slip the top over the studs so that there is a nice tight fit and nothing will fall behind it.
Danny Lipford: This week we’re looking at a number of ways to repair problems you may have with your windows. Now, many years ago window manufacturers introduced double pane, insulated window units. Now, this is two panes of glass that have a gap between them anywhere from a quarter-inch to an inch that allows an air space there that provides a great insulation blanket between you and the elements outside. Now, these work great, and they are used in almost every part of the country. But the problem is if any moisture gets between those two panes because of a broken seal, it’ll end up looking like this. Pretty unsightly, all fogged up, and this only gets worse.
Now probably still fairly energy efficient, but definitely is not something you would want in your house. Well, if you’re faced with this problem, here’s several options. If you have a wood house, very easy just to pull this wood trim, pull the window unit out, get a window unit the same size, nail it in, put the trim back on and you’re in good shape.
Another option would be to replace the window pane that’s having all the problems.
Most of the time one insulated glass panel will make up an entire sash in this kind of window. The glazing for this type of unit is made of rubber, so it’s more easily removed than the stuff we took off of the single paned windows earlier. It’s also necessary to cut loose the sealant that holds the glass unit to the frame. Remember this just isn’t a single piece of sixteenth inch glass, like we used earlier, it’s two pieces bonded together. So the suction cup makes dealing with the extra weight much easier. This frame also has to be cleaned out, much in the same way the wooden one did, so that the new silicone sealant can be squirted into the channel where the new panel will rest. Then the insulated glass panel can be set in place, and the glazing applied around it to seal it in the frame. This process isn’t rocket science, but it does require some specialized tools and a brand new insulated glass unit to replace each one that’s fogged.
Whether you replace the entire window or just the problem glass panel, it can run into quite a bit of money, especially if you have a lot of windows to deal with, like we have on this house. Recently we stumbled across a new service that is able to drill into the glass panel, remove the moisture, clean the inside of the panel, and then seal it back up. Pretty interesting process.
John Hennessy: The conventional wisdom has been to throw the unit away. The seal is blown, and you have to get rid of it. So what we essentially do is reengineer the unit. We like to describe it as a little bit of arthroscopic surgery on a window.
And there’s a number of reasons that we want to do that. Number one is we can get the view back to the window, number two we can restore the insulation value of the window, and number three we can divert that glass from going to a landfill, which is a waste.
So what we do is pretty straight forward, we end up drilling two small hole in a failed sealed unit. So we drill one down here, it’s a little 3/8-inch hole. We would drill another one up at the top here. Once we have those drilled we can now get access to the interior pieces of glass that have condensation and have mineral deposits and dirt and debris.
Through this little hole we’ll insert a specialized spray tip and we will spray up to six different solutions to the inside of the window, and sheet those down both sides of the glass on the inside. So we have a washing solution, a cleaning solution, a demineralizing solution, a rinsing solution and then a drying agent. While we are doing that we have a little vacuum that draws all of those solutions outside. And when we finish running the solutions and drawing them out of the unit, the unit will now be clear as you see it here. And we install a little air sieve called the defogger air sieve here.
So what’s wonderful about what we do, is that we don’t have to throw away this unit. So a unit that was foggy, that we fixed with our defogger system, that was destined for the landfill site, is now not going to go there. We’ve done over a quarter million windows with the defogging process now. We can end up doing this process for about half the price of replacing the glass, or just the panes. If we’re replacing a window system we can get as low as 10 percent of what that window system is, so this is one of the most cost effective things that allows you to save energy and save the environment.
Danny Lipford: Hey, we’ve shown you about every possible way to repair a window. After our Best New Product segment, we’re just going to rip some out and replace them.
Danny Lipford: Often when people are thinking about cleaning a dirty sink they have a kitchen sink in mind. So they spend a lot of time choosing the perfect kitchen sink that is very easy to keep clean. But if you think about it, a bathroom sink can be even a bigger challenge with all the toothpaste, soap, shaving cream, and makeup that these guys are exposed to, they can get real grimy really fast.
Well, one manufacturer, American Standard, is trying to take some of the hassle out of cleaning your bathroom sink by including a unique Scotchgard surface protection in the construction of the sink. Now they tell me you can even write on it with a marker and it will still come off. Now, that’s tough compared to toothpaste and soap scum, so we’re talking about a really easy to clean sink.
The unique finish not only makes it easy to wipe away any grime, but it also allows water to bead up and run off more easily, so that it doesn’t collect in the sink and cause water spots. Now, starting at around $70, its price is comparable to other bathroom sinks, so the value you have is less time spending cleaning.
Looking for ideas to improve your home, need a little inspiration? Check out todayshomeowner.com. You’ll find project ideas, streaming video, and tons of expert advice. While you’re there stop by our online store or swap ideas on message boards at dannylipfod.com
Danny Lipford: So far this week we’ve looked at a number of ways to repair wood windows and also gave you a few options on what you need to do if you’re faced with a double pane, insulated window where moisture has gotten between it and kind of fogged it all up.
But occasionally you run across a window situation that there’s hardly anything you can do to make it more energy efficient. Here’s a great example. Now this house is about 35 years old, all of the windows are aluminum frame, single paned, not very strong. And I guarantee you this house is pretty cold during the winter and probably pretty warm during the summer, because this type of window just leaks air so badly.
Now, one thing that you can do in a situation similar to this to put a storm window or a sheet of glass in front of it that creates that little air pocket between the two panes of glass. It serves as a great insulator, but in this case there’s not a lot of room around the window where it ties right into the bricks. So it’d be very hard to put a storm window on this type of application. So the best option is to replace all of the windows in the house.
Now, that might sound like quite a task, because you would have to remove the shutters and all of the bricks. But actually with vinyl replacement windows, it’s very easy to measure the jam, order the windows, and replace all of the windows without damaging a single brick or affecting the trim on the inside of the house. And recently we did that on a house very similar to this.
The mill finished aluminum windows in our project not only made the house inefficient, but it also made it pretty ugly, too. So as part of an exterior facelift we replaced every window in the house. Getting old aluminum windows out sometimes requires a little metal mangling, but in our case the process was pretty clean. Of course the caulk had to be cut around the perimeter of the windows, so that we could minimize any damage to the inside of the house; and doing the same outside, making the units just come out a little bit easier.
Once they were loose it only took a little prying to get them completely free and out of the open. Removing the metal nailing flange to which the window frame had been screwed took a little bit more effort; but in very little time at all, the house was ready for new windows. The final replacements we purchased were sized exactly to fit into the existing openings. That meant the installer only needed to line them up with even margins all around and be sure each unit was plumb and level. Otherwise, the windows just wouldn’t open properly.
A few shims here and there around the window held it in the proper position while the long screws were driven into the framing of the house to secure them. Finally, the units were trimmed out and silicone caulk was applied all around to seal the window and the house. The fact that these vinyl replacement windows could be installed so quickly made them very attractive to us, but as the manufacturer’s rep told us that’s just one of the many reasons for their popularity.
Bill Lazor: I think because of its cost effectiveness, and the fact that it’s virtually maintenance free. It can resist moisture and chipping and splitting. You really don’t have to do anything to maintain them, plus they are very thermally efficient.
Danny Lipford: That was one of the big advantages that we saw right off the bat, particularly on this house, is putting a low maintenance window is one of the keys. But also the look of it, and the ease that it went in was really impressive.
Bill Lazor: Well, we make our custom retrofit windows on an eighth of an inch, so when you order the size, you get them in seven days. And probably once you got the frame out, its less than an hour to put in I’d guess.
Danny Lipford: It really was a win win situation, because the new windows were more energy efficient, required almost no maintenance and made a dramatic difference in the looks of the house. I’m sure these homeowners would really love some new vinyl replacement windows. Now replacing windows like this is really not a do it yourself project. It’s better left to the pros that have been in business a few years. Use good quality windows, and make sure you take your time. And check some references to make sure that the contractor does the job just like you want at your home.
Now, price is going to vary greatly from area to area around the country And the windows that we installed averaged around 400 dollars per window, and that’s for the window and the installation. But just think about it, as soon as the windows are installed, you’re starting to lower those utility bills, and get a little of that money back. Right now our Around the Yard.
Tricia Craven Worley: Weeds are a constant problem for gardeners, but there are two ways you can help suppress weeds. One is with a fabric weed barrier, and the other with a plastic weed barrier. Now the California strawberry growers use this every year in their fields to suppress the weeds.
Something else that this plastic sheeting is good for is helping prevent the moisture from getting into your basement or foundation. In that event you want to slope soil about one inch to one foot, put this plastic down, clip it in place, and then put some gravel on top.
But back to the fabric weed barrier. Here I already laid some out and staked it, and what you want to do is put a slit wherever you are going to plant a plant or already have a plant such as this little gardenia.
With fabric barrier, the moisture will get through, but it will help block the sun from getting through to those weed seeds. You want to finish it off with about three to four inches of some nice mulch, and that will help keep the barrier in place. And also, again, help those weed seeds from coming through.
Danny Lipford: You know your windows are a very important part of your home. And they make a big difference in how energy efficient your home is, because they represent so much of the square footage of your outside walls. Now, we’ve looked at a number of options, from doing little simple repairs to make your wood windows work better and be more energy efficient. Also we looked at a couple different ways that you could eliminate the moisture inside a double paned window unit, and we showed you how easy it is just to completely replace your windows with vinyl clad type units.
Now, of course there’s a lot of other options out there, and I’m sure you may have some questions about the windows in your home. Well, if you do, go to our website at todayshomeowner.com. Click on the feedback button and let us know some of the problems you’re having, and maybe we can address it in an upcoming show.
I’m Danny Lipford we’ll see you next week. We’re making small interior improvements next week that will change the look and feel of a room.