Home>Discussions>DOORS & WINDOWS>Looking for success stories of window replacements on old home (esp. Tudor style)
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Josiet
Looking for success stories of window replacements on old home (esp. Tudor style)
Josiet

I have a 1937 Tudor that I bought last year. I had no idea how bad the windows were (single pane, casement, glass) until my first winter. To stay warm, we had to tape up all the grids of the window and tape around the windows with masking tape, plus addplastic and sytrofoam.

I am debating interior storms vs replacement windows. Storms are cheaper but not cheap. Also the current windows are so leaky that it will take time and cost to repair these windows (which I've been told to do before getting the storms).

Storms add no value to the house. Replacement windows add value to the house. So even though they are expensive, I'm adding direct value to my house. Also I found an installer who would be willing to do it a few at a time.

My gut says to replace the windows. When I search on replacement windows of old homes, I see plenty of advice not to do it.

MY question is if anyone has successfully replaced windows on an old home (75 years+ like mine) and were successful and happy having done. Or anyone who regrets replacement old windows.

dj1
Re: Looking for success stories of window replacements on old home (esp. Tudor style)
dj1

Any time you replace old windows correctly, you make an improvement.

What type of windows depends on your: budget and prices, length of time you are going to stay in this house, neighborhood styles and curb appeal.

ed21
Re: Looking for success stories of window replacements on old home (esp. Tudor style)
ed21

Don't forget any historical district regulations if any.
Other than the cost why do people say not to do it?

SRLOPEZ
Re: Looking for success stories of window replacements on old home (esp. Tudor style)
SRLOPEZ

We own a 1933 Tudor in a conservation district and were able to replace our 6 over 6 original windows with marvin windows. The installers kept our original casings in place and we ware pleased with the result. The cost however is not for the faint-hearted.

Josiet
Re: Looking for success stories of window replacements on old home (esp. Tudor style)
Josiet

Thank you for all the replies. I really appreciate it. Helps a lot to get advice.

The cost is heavy for sure which is why I have to it a few at a time.

I don't have any historical preservation issues to contend with.

The main reasons I have found not to do it is that people say that vinyl replacements won't last more than 20 years. Also from a heatloss perspective (which is my major issue for doing this), windows account for only 10-15% of heat loss.

As leaky as my current old windows are, I'm kind of impressed at how they lasted 78 years! The last owners who had the home for 40 years completely neglected the house. It had virtually no upgrades and even the original cast iron oil boiler. But these windows while leaky are not broken. Some are a little rustly and I had to pry open with a saw to get them to open, but I find the state they are in to be pretty impressive considering the age. They don't look bad either. I had John Seekircher evaluate my home. He's like the god of old window restoration. He was quoted saying “and the craftsmanship and lifespan of historic and steel windows is really unmatched by most replacement windows on the market today. Once restored, the historic windows are as good as new, even better.”

These old windows are strong and withstood a lot of punishment over the years to still basically function OK. They are just leaky as heck. Air seeps through the grids not just the edges. Weatherstripping helped a little but I had to put masking tape on every grid line (these are squares of glass held together by steel). then i put plastic over it and then added styrofoam. It was a pain. So I have to get these windows repaired or replaced. Replacement adds more value to the home. But I hope they last more than 20 years!

it's not cheap to restore old windows but probabaly would be about 40% the cost of replacements.

It's good to know that replacing the windows has worked out. It seems to be a better investment.

ed21
Re: Looking for success stories of window replacements on old home (esp. Tudor style)
ed21

Vinyl may be cheaper,but a good wood or composite would be my choice. No matter what they say about heat loss numbers, drafty, frosty, steel windows suck.
Besides that that you can get low E glass and the appropriate heat shading glass. A good double glazed window will be quieter too.

keith3267
Re: Looking for success stories of window replacements on old home (esp. Tudor style)
keith3267

I think you will find that people who are dissatisfied with their replacement windows are so because they got cheap windows and/or the windows were installed very poorly. One big mistake seems to be contractors that use the next size smaller standard size window in then do a crappy job of filling in the gap. There have been people who have posted here that their replacement windows leaked more than the originals did.

Using a reputable window manufacturer like Marvin is no guarantee of satisfaction either if the installer does a poor job. It is difficult for manufacturers to police the companies that do business with them. They may drop the installer if there are a lot of complaints, but they can't do much for the customer. Who you choose to install the windows is the most critical decision you will make in the process.

New windows are not usually a good investment as measured by ROI (return on investment) but there are other considerations besides the economic ones. Comfort, beauty, reliability and ease of use.

Interior storm windows can really be effective and are cheap to make, but they do not have the visual appeal or charm of a well made primary window. They are also not as convenient as you have to take them down and store them in the summer in order to open the primary windows. I made some for a house with steel primary windows using 1x1's to make a frame about a 1/4" smaller than the opening, covering both sides of the frame with 8 mil ultra clear vinyl and surrounding the frame with weatherstripping and pressing them into the opening.

The difference was amazing. In the winter, if you held you hand at the base of the window, it felt like a stream of ice water was flowing over your hand. After installing these interior storms, nothing but warm room air.

The book "From the Walls In" by Charles Wing has plans for interior shutters that work even better, but are more involved to make. I didn't do these in that house as I was only planning on living there for 3-4 years. But you makes frames, this time two per window, 1/2 width each out of 1x1, but instead of clear vinyl, you use a foil faced vinyl with the shiny sides facing each other and then cover those with paper board. Paint or decorate as you like. Again weatherstripping around the edges and cabinet hardware to hang them so that you can open them and close them as needed.

These interior shutters provide about a R-4 total insulation when closed. They should be spaced about 3/4" from the glass when closed but a little further in wont hurt much. Close at night and open during the day to take advantage of solar gain. You won't need curtains or blinds with these.

Steel windows can be made surprisingly air tight. They usually use some type of spring steel for weather stripping. The issue with steel is that it conducts a lot of heat, but if the surface of the steel is clean and bright, it doesn't absorb or radiate much heat. The individual panes of glass should be held in place with putty just like old wood windows, or with a rubber gasket that can be replaced. You can also put a low emissive film on the glass to reduce radiation, but it will also reduce solar gain during the day. If you decide to make the interior shutters, you might not want to use this film on the glass, just seal them good against infiltration.

About the economics again. The windows account for 15-20% of the total heat loss for the house through conduction and radiation. The infiltration portion is accounted for separately as total infiltration for the house. Windows can contribute a lot to this infiltration though as well. So upgrading the windows can have a little better payback than you might think, but it is almost never the best payback. Weatherstripping and attic insulation give the best bang for the buck.

Before you insulate the attic, the first thing to do is to find all the penetrations from the interior walls to the attic and seal them up. This would be where vent pipes come into the attic from bathroom and kitchen walls below. You would be surprised at how much heat is lost through these. The holes, which are typically quite a bit larger than the pipe coming through them let cold air down into the interior wall cavities and warm air from the house to leak out them. Many of these old houses had a "wet wall" which is an interior wall that goes between bathrooms and kitchens that house all the plumbing. They were actually two walls spaced about 4" apart and were often open to the attic above. These should be covered and sealed before putting down any insulation.

Josiet
Re: Looking for success stories of window replacements on old home (esp. Tudor style)
Josiet

Keith, I just went up to to the attic and I didn't see any vents or pipes. Is this unusual? I tried to upload pictures but the site is indicating my files are invalid.

There is definitely some insulation up there in the less accessible places. But more could be added. The walkable floor has no insulation.

Mastercarpentry
Re: Looking for success stories of window replacements on old home (esp. Tudor style)
Mastercarpentry

Post pics on a photo-sharing site and give us the links; photo posting has been disabled here.

I'm a fan of replacement windows but I'm also a fan of true restorations. So if you have widespread originality, want to preserve that, and are able to handle the costs then rehab your current windows and add weatherstripping. Interior storms can be added afterward if you like. If absolute originality doesn't bother you then replacements will do fine so long as they are installed correctly- which most are not. Use quality windows and a quality installer. They will not be cheap but they will be well worth it in the long run, including resale time.

Phil

Josiet
Re: Looking for success stories of window replacements on old home (esp. Tudor style)
Josiet

Thanks Phil. Originality doesn't bother me. I obviously I don't want to make the house look ugly with replacements. But I've seen plenty of tudor homes in the neighborhood that look great with replacements. I can't do all at once. My thought was to start with certain bedrooms in the back of the house that are the worst. I am going to do storm windows for sure on the stained glass windows on the front of the house. While badly warped and the lead glass separating from the metal, those windows are a big part of the character of the house and I don't want to replace those.

Here are pictures: http://housetudor.shutterfly.com/pictures

keith3267
Re: Looking for success stories of window replacements on old home (esp. Tudor style)
keith3267

You have casement windows. Those can be weatherstripped to be very tight, especially the steel ones. But you can't do much in the way of converting them to double pane or add exterior storm windows. It looks like these are replacement windows from maybe to 60's or 70's. Earlier steel windows used square steel tubing 1/2" or 3/4". The glass was set in the same way is it would have been in a wood version of the same window and then putty made a 45 degree filler between the glass and the edge of the steel tube.

I can't tell from the pictures too well but it looks like your windows are extruded H channels and the glass is held by a rubber seal. You could conceivably put insulated double pane glass in the square tube type, but that would not be cheap. New windows would be a bargain by comparison. New rubber seals in the channels and around the casements would make these windows tight as new. In the winter, the interior storms I described above would help a lot and I think that is the path I would take, or there is an insulated blind system you can use.

The insulated blind system is actually quite popular right now so I would suggest you hit your local big box hardware store, they will have them and you can see how they work for yourself. They are more costly than my home made interior storms, but you would use them year round and not have to store them anywhere. I think they would run you about $150 per window, maybe less but you do have pretty big windows there. They resemble pleated blinds.

Seal up the windows, maybe a low emissive (solar) film and the insulated pleated blinds and you should be good for awhile.

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