weatherstripping windows
Photograhy by Carl Tremblay
1. Pry off one inside stop.
When Kevin O'Connor, the host of This Old House, renovated his 1894 Queen Anne, he never once considered replacing its original double-hung windows with modern ones.

"It would kill me to put new windows in this house," he says. For one thing, the handcrafted sash and blown-glass panes would be costly to replace—as much as $1,000 apiece—and substituting anything less would destroy much of the old place's charm.

Still, he was dismayed by how much air leaked in during the winter, even with outside storm windows in place.

To fix the problem, he needed a product that was both effective and unobtrusive. "I didn't want anything that would change the way the old windows look," he says. The solution: a simple weatherstripping kit that uses the same types of seal found in modern windows and is practically invisible.

For about $60 and an hour's installation time per window, Kevin got the leak-free performance of a new unit while saving a valuable piece of his house's history, as well as dollars off his heating bill. "The wind is blowing outside," he says, "but the drafts are gone." On the following pages, he shows how he did it.

Remove the Sash

1. Pry off one inside stop.
With a utility knife, break the paint film (if any) by scoring along the joints where the stop meets the side casing and the sill. Remove any screws holding the stop to the jamb. Insert a stiff putty knife in the joint about halfway up the window opening. Gently bend the stop and insert a pry bar in the gap above the knife. Work the two tools down toward the sill, putty knife in the lead, until the stop is free. Pull any finish nails out through the back of the stop, then set it aside.

2. Take out the lower sash.
Raise the sash slightly and swing it out on the side where the stop was removed. Pull the cord out of its groove and tie a figure-eight knot in one end to keep the cord from being pulled down into the weight pocket. If the sash has chains instead of cords, insert a nail through a link instead.

3. Pull the parting beads.
Using a utility knife, score the paint (if any) on both sides of all three parting beads. Grab each parting bead on one end with nippers or locking pliers and pull it out of its dado, the flat-bottomed groove in the jamb. Move the upper sash as needed to get a good grip. If the upper sash is inoperable, pry out the beads with a chisel, taking care not to gouge the sash. There's no need to remove the upper sash. Its weatherstripping is on the replacement parting beads you'll install later.
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