A Timeless Building Material, part 3 of 3.
Last week learned that fixing the wood windows problems are not hard to fix. For decayed and rotted wood you can make repairs with a specialty epoxy penetrants called consolidants, replacing trim boards with a good hard lumber, applying primer and a good coat of paint. This week let’s upgrade your windows to save you on heating and cooling bills, plus add comfort, keep your windows, and add value.
According to the Building Performance Institute there are “about 128 million homes in this country were constructed before modern energy and building codes were established. These homes often suffer from performance problems ranging from inflated energy consumption to poor thermal comfort to indoor air quality issues.”
Other research shows that most traditionally designed wood-frame buildings lose more heat through the roof (attic) and un-insulated walls than through the windows. Replacing a historic single-pane window also may not save you much money in the long run. While the exact figure will vary depending on the type of window installed and whether or not a storm window is used, studies have found that it could take 100 years or more for a replacement window to pay for itself in energy savings.
According to information published in a recent Old House Journal article, it could take 240 years to recoup the cost of replacing a single-pane window-storm window combination with a low-e glass double-pane thermal replacement window. Also, a historic wood window can easily last more than 100 years, while a new window may not last 25.
Insulating Around Windows
Let’s look at other steps to make our windows better. A large part of the air drafts coming into the house could be between the window and the wall framing. Large gaps were left without any insulation. Remember that there were no building code requirements for insulation is there is today and the heating bills were much less.
First, remove the interior trim of the frame around the window to expose the gap between the window and framing lumber. Use a pry bar and a block of wood to protect the wall and take care not to break the facing trim. You can apply small scraps of fiberglass insulation or urethane expanding foam. To apply the foam, follow the directions on the can.
If you do remove the exterior facing trim you may also consider installing a self-adhering window wrap for about $40 that comes in rolls that are 6” X 100’ linear. It is recommended to install it underneath the house paper or wrap directly to the wall sheathing or siding and the frame of the window. One roll should cover about five windows that are 3 foot wide by 6 foot in height.
Install adequate weather-stripping as this will also help prevent air leaks, and keep your windows in good working condition. Also, apply a good exterior 40-60 year high performance elastomeric sealant caulking and apply it on the exterior between the window and the siding, rock or brick of your home. Pick one that’s paintable and mildew resistance.
Low-E your windows and here’s how. Low-E is a thin layer of reflective material that sticks to the inside of windows. All of your windows that face the sun you can apply a thin layer of reflective film. It works year around to either keep the heat out in the summer or heat in in the winter. According to www.thedailygreen.com window film can reduce a home’s heat loss up to 40 percent.
Do you want to make your own exterior storm window and still retain the old wood windows? You can use your existing wood screens or just frame some new ones and store the others. Remove the screen moldings and insert some new Plexiglas for about $40 per window. Next, re-install the screen moldings and add some weather-stripping around the outside of the wood screens so they fit semi-tight to keep the water and wind out.
By making your own storm windows the final cost should be about $60 vs. $600 per window installed. Do you want to see an example online? Here is a way a teacher named Jim Wilkinson who lives in a 1902 historic homes did his own: http://bit.ly/ftBpGH
Rudy Nino is a member of the Blanco’s Historic Preservation Commission and a local remodeler. We do not endorse any product or service in these articles. Here is a list of web sites to keep you in touch: www.blancoguide.com, www.blancochamber.com, www.cityofblanco.com.