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Repair or Replace?

I have a 1750's Antique Cape. I am a firm believer that just because it's old doesn't mean it should be replaced. I have updated and or repaired most everything in the house. Windows are my next project, I do not like the looks of replacement windows in any home,... personally they look cheesy. However I have to do something with mine. Everyone says it's not necessarily the window frames that need replacement it's the glass. How can I keep my old windows but be energy efficient? Thanks for any suggestions in advance.

Re: Repair or Replace?

If you only want to re-glaze, you can do it, but you have to know what you're doing, from restoring the frames to prepare them for the new glass.
Choose glass that meets today's codes, as far as energy efficiency, UV protection, sound, etc.
Send pictures.

Re: Repair or Replace?

You can do what they did in the 1750's and that is to make interior shutters. In old homes of that period where the walls were often stone or brick and a foot thick or more, the shutters folded up against the edge of the window frame so they were not even visible during the day. At night, they would be unfolded and closed against the glass, retaining the heat that was generated by the sun shining through the glass during the day.

The old shutters were mostly wood and about 3/4" thick so they only had an R-value of around 1. They also got a little more insulation from the air gap between the shutter and the glass. Storm windows on the outside helped a little also.

For each window, you will need 4 panels. You can frame each panel with 1x1 stock. Then you could use 3/4" foam board in between or cover the inside and outside with a bright foil finish, shiny sides facing each other. Either way provides about an R-3 for the cavity. The cover the whole thing with a thin panel or cloth. something that you like. You could even use a heavy poster board and paint it.

Use recessed hinges or surround each frame with weatherstripping. Mount two panels to each side of the window in a manner that allows them to fold out of the way. The shutters alone will increase your present single pane windows to an efficiency rivaling the best new units.

If you don't mind loosing a little historical accuracy, you could cover the glass with a reflective film. If you have storm windows and you cover both with a reflective film, the two reflective surfaces can add one or two to the present R-value of the windows. Between the reflective films, storm windows and interior shutters, you should be pretty well covered.

Re: Repair or Replace?

Sorry, I was trying to send a couple photos... not working. They are double hung 6 over 6. Im not sure but Im assuming they are not original but they are wood & putty. They have alluminum tracks & also storms. They are not the deep type windows. I wish they were. I am willing to breakdown & repair, how long does this process take? What exactly should be done for these windows to last many more years. I was told the new efficient glass is to thick to use in old windows. If you know from experience this is not the case, where do I find the materials to do this right? Again Thank you !

Re: Repair or Replace?

You're right that the thicker glass is usually too big for old sashes like yours. If you want to keep the original windows, and I think you definitely should, then you'll need single thickness glass. I agree with Keith that the shutters on the inside are a good idea as are maintaining the storms on the outside. The storms will protect your antique sashes.

I've restored hundreds of these old windows and they can be quite efficient and last a LOT longer than any replacement would. Stick with it and you can save them!

If you want to restore the windows yourself here's a resource page I put together on my blog.
How to Restore Old Windows
It has several tutorials on doing it yourself and also lists some of the best tools I have found for the process.

Re: Repair or Replace?

To all, I Thank you! Scott, I will definitely look at your how to. I will give it a try, I don't mind getting my hands dirty & learning something new. No better feeling than to step back & look at the finished work. Thanks sgain!

Re: Repair or Replace?

Thanks for sharing this wonderful post.


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