Old wood windows, such as those found in historic homes, can be charming but at the same time very frustrating. The allure is their unmatched craftsmanship and the authenticity they add to an older home. The problem is they tend to leak like a sieve and are no match for today’s energy efficient windows. If your home is situated in a historic district, local restrictions may prohibit the removal of the existing windows. In which case repair is your only option. If your old wood windows are not subjected to restrictions, you may want to consider replacement windows to take advantage of the newer technology. Before you decide, review our window repair tips.
Repair Tips for Old Wood Windows
The good news is that old wood windows were designed in such a way to facilitate repairs. Meaning, with a little knowledge and some elbow grease, most window issues can be resolved without breaking the bank. Here are a few repairs that you can tackle on your own, or you can hire a reputable window repair contractor to do the dirty work for you.
Broken Sash Cords: Broken sash cords can make double hung windows very difficult to operate. This can also create a dangerous situation for small children should the window tend to close under its own weight. Replacing the sash cords is a fairly simple and inexpensive task. Just be sure to use the proper cord that is designed to withstand the elements over a long period of time. Grandmas twine is not the answer.
Broken Glass: Broken window panes can allow moisture to enter your home, not to mention the safety concern. Individual glass panes can easily be replaced. Watch the video series on how to replace broken glass.
Wood Damage: Minor wood damage can be repaired using epoxy wood filler. If the wood is rotted, major surgery is required. Checkout our article on rotted sill restoration.
Locking Latch Misaligned: If the sash midrails are not aligned vertically when in the closed position, the culprit is most likely an upper sash that was painted in place while not quite in the home position. If this is the case, you may want to read our article on opening stuck windows. If the sashes are aligned but the latch simply won’t reach the locking pin, the midrail may be slightly bowed. In this situation, you can replace the single latch with two new latches equally spaced along the midrail. The two latches will pull the midrails together to create a much better seal.
Drafty Windows: If the source of the draft is between the midrails, you can add a strip of silicone bulb seal weather-stripping. Affix the seal inside the routed groove of the lower sash midrail. When the latch is in the locked position, the bulb seal will compress to create an airtight seal.
Windows that Rattle: Some old wood windows will rattle on a windy day. This is usually the result of excessive wear on the jamb. These windows are prime candidates for replacements. In lieu of replacing the windows, you can add small strips of wood to each side of the sash to fill the gap. Alternatively, you can attach a section of V-shaped bronze weather-stripping to the sash stiles.