Historic Windows Can Be Weather Tight
"A historic wood window, properly maintained, weatherstripped and with a storm window, can be just as energy efficient as a new window." Studies have shown it.
National Trust for Historic Preservation, "Historic Wood Windows" (emphasis added)
What to Do?
Are Your Windows Steel?
For repair and weatherization of historic steel windows, see the article on Historic Steel Windows Repair, Restoration, and Weatherization.
A good exterior storm window is the first and essential step.
- A storm window is the principal element in creating a weather tight window.
- Either exterior or interior storms will work.
- An exterior storm also protects the window from weathering.
- An exterior storm also adds a layer of security on windows.
- For more information on storms, see our storm window page.
Exterior caulking is need everywhere around the window frames and sills.
- Where siding meets the window sill and frame -- but not along the top, because that space lets any moisture from inside escape.
- Between storm windows and window frame - but leave some opening where the storm window rests on the sill, to let any moisture drain away.
Interior weather stripping around window frames and sash to be weather tight.
- The interior woodwork needs to be tight with the wall: if it is not, use spackling compound or caulk (paintable) to close the opening.
- Where the sash fits into the window frame needs weather stripping.
- There are many commercial products to do this, such as removable caulking and self-adhesive plastic strips.
- Weather strips can be installed alongside the sash.
- More permanent weather stripping uses brass metal strips in the side channels of the window frame and along the bottom of the lower sash.
How to Do It?
There are two courses of action:
- Do-It-Yourself (DIY)
- Hire a contractor
A Middle Way to Save Money: Do the easy things yourself, and hire a contractor for the rest.
Simple things can dramatically increase the energy efficiency of historic windows.
You need only :
- simple low-cost materials
- common household skills
- knowledge about windows
Here are some references:
Complete Reference Guidebook for Window Repair and Weatherization
- Window Repair and Weatherization in Historic Homes You can download it free.
Excellent overview of what needs to be done.
- VIDEO: How to install window weatherstripping
- Caulking: information about types of caulk, with good directions.
Exterior Caulking (Simple to Do)
- Where the siding meets the window sill and frame -- but not along the top! If any moisture gets inside the walls from the interior, this space at the top allows that moisture to escape.
- VIDEO: How to Caulk Windows For Dummies
Interior Caulking (Simple to Do)
- The interior woodwork needs to be tight with the wall. If there is a gap, even a tiny one, use spackling compound or caulk (paintable) to close it. Where the sash fit into the window frame, install removable or permanent caulk.
- VIDEO: Removable tube caulk
- Permanent caulk between sash and window frames for windows that are never opened. Upper sash often are not opened, even on windows frequently used. Lower sash can be caulked on windows that are not opened.
Interior Weather Stripping (Simple to Do)
- Weatherstripping | Department of Energy Excellent guide to choosing weatherstripping to seal air leaks
- Weatherstripping Doors and Windows
- How to Install Weather Stripping For Dummies (V-Strips) VIDEO
Brass weather stripping (Some skill with hand tools)
- VIDEO: How to install Spring Bronze Weather Stripping
- VIDEO: Window Restoration (first 1.5 minutes on bronze strips)
Integral Zinc weatherstripping is high quality and long lived (High skill level)
- VIDEO: Interlocking Weather-stripping Installation
Window Sash Locks
- The sash locks pull the upper and lower sash together tightly to prevent air getting in. They are not just for security. Get them working and lined up to close tightly.
- Storm windows can be installed badly, which makes them less effective.
- Buying storm windows and installation from a reputable company will assure you of a proper and weather-tight installation. The contractors below can install good ones. There are many storm window companies.
- For more detail on storm windows, refer to our article all about storm windows.
IMPORTANT:All exterior storm windows must be preapproved prior to installation by the Detroit Historic District Commission, because they are a change to the exterior of a house. HDC looks at appropriate color and window design.
Do the simple things first. Maybe they will be enough!
When the simple things are not enough, then hire a skilled contractor.
- An owner does the simple and low-cost things
- A contractor does the more complicated and more expensive things
Hire a Contractor
Employing contractors always is tricky, for two reasons.
- First, some contractors will say they can do something, when they can't. Then they do the wrong thing or to do it badly.
- Second, many contractors will advise you to do what they know how to do! And this may not be correct for you.
Advice. Know what you need and how it should be done!
Here's how: Spend time studying the DIY information so you understand what you need contractors to do and how they should do it. With this knowledge, you can keep looking for contractors who know the right thing to do and how to do it right.
H & R Window Repair Company
23641 John R, Hazel Park, MI 48030
Fax: (248) 544-8122
280 East Boston, Detroit, MI 48202
Sevonty Restoration LLC
P. O. Box 2951, Dearborn, MI 48124
Allstate Glass Repair
J. W. and Geneba Thomas
3922 Fenkell, Detroit, MI 48238
Windows Diverse Services
Detroit, MI 48201
Gregg Robinson and Terry Campbell
9301 Dwight, Detroit, MI 48214