The Window Situation

Our windows are from 1941 and apparently that's old. I grew up in a house built in 1790-something. Now those windows, with their wavy glass, were old. Our windows are just, well, neglected.

The windows are so disgustingly dirty that we have to assume that the previous owners intended to replace them. It's not that the panes of glass are so horribly dirty (they are, but that's not what has me gagging), but every other part of every single window is caked in dirt, mold, peeling paint, chunks of dried-up glazing, and in some places dead bugs. Yes, dead bugs. And to make matters worse we have at least two dozen panes of cracked glass throughout the house.

A few weeks ago we interviewed four replacement window companies. We (I) came to the following conclusions:
1. Vinyl is not going to work for a whole host of reasons
2. The lights cannot be sandwiched between the glass. I know this is easier for cleaning, but when I run through our neighborhood the houses that I love, love, love all have lights that actually look real.
3. We're not spending $25k on replacement windows that only have a 20 year guarantee. $25k is not short change and 20 years is not a long time in the grand scheme of how long windows should last.
4. I like fiberglass the most. It's rigid and it's not soft pine from a tree that I'd rather see in a forest.
5. Old windows with storms are nearly as efficient as your new window with its 20 year guarantee. Why do window companies compare new windows to old ones without storms? Why did that window guy let me use his little heat loss monitor? Trusting sales guy, you didn't think our windows were going to perform so well, did you?

Essentially we came out of our "interviews" with a full-on case of paralyzing indecision. Soooooo for now we're hoping to keep our windows and re-glaze nearly all of them. Quote from handyman? Ten thousand dollars. Correction: we're going to keep our windows and re-glaze nearly all of them...ourselves. This means we have to face the window situation head-on, which is what I did this week to celebrate President's Day.

It started innocently enough. My fabulous microfiber cloth was sitting on the kitchen counter so I decided to "dust" the dining room windows. Dusting meant jamming the cloth into the corners of each light and twisting it violently to get the dirt out. It took well over an hour to do three windows. And then...I moved to the bathroom. I was using the same technique with mild success when a light bulb went off in my head. Bleach. Bleach will kill the mold. I made a little bleach/water/soap solution and tried again with a smidget more success.

Then in a moment of utter frustration, I grabbed a toothbrush, replaced my solution with straight-up seventh generation chlorine-free bleach and went to town.
The windows are seriously clean now. Not. A. Speck. Of. Mold. On the inside that is. Because I found that the top sash of the DAMN WINDOWS ARE PAINTED SHUT. Are you kidding me?! Someone painted the windows shut!?! (Not to mention the paint all over the windows too.) The mold was mocking me as I tried all sorts of contorted maneuvers with the toothbrush to get spaces that would be so easy to reach were I able to open the top sash. Someone get me a pressure washer, stat!

When all that snow melts, and the sun room is finished, we'll be dealing with these windows; their cracked glazing, their broken panes, and their painted-shut sashes. Those replacements are looking pretty good right now....

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1 comment:

  1. Old House Lover7/15/2010

    I've started reading your blog from the begining, and today I reached this post, so I don't know your outcome on the windows yet, but if you are still either looking to replace or restore you might want to check out this site http://www.historichomeworks.com/hhw/index.htm the owner is in the home restoration profession (plus has written for Old House Journal, etc.) and has a lot of information available on the site.


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