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Stop Feeding the Energy Hogs: Fix Those Windows!

By Edited Sep 13, 2015 0 0

     It is important to keep in perspective the amount of energy that various appliances in your home use.  Dishwashers, freezers, ranges, water heaters, toasters, electric knives, and waffle irons all use many kilowatt-hours of electricity.  Remember also that broken windows, leaky foundation walls, and malfunctioning exhaust fans will drain energy.  By becoming aware of the ways you may lose energy in your home, you may be able to take a few steps to prevent loss of energy.

     Tiny cracks between window stops (narrow strip to hold the casement in a window frame) and window frames can waste energy.  If the cracks are  small, you may be able to tap the stop more closely against the window frame with a hammer and a piece of scrap wood, which acts as a buffer.  Swing the hammer gently to avoid splitting the wooden top.

     If the crack between the window stop and the window frame is wide, you should reposition the stop.  Pry off the stop with a thick-bladed putty knife or a thin chisel.  Remove the nails from the stop.  Then, place the stop against the window; use a thin piece of cardboard between the stop and the window frame as a spacer.  Re-nail the stop to the window frame with 6-penny (6d) finishing nails.  Countersink the nail heads with a nail punch, and fill the holes with wood putty; then refinish the stop.

    Storm windows can cut the heat loss or gain up to 50%.  Although costly, storm windows and doors should pay for themselves over a period of six years.  Awnings, roof overhangs, attic and window fans also help lessen heat loss or gain.  You may pull draperies to save energy.  In the winter, open draperies on windows that face the sun to take advantage of solar heat.  In the summer, close draperies that face the sun to block out heat.

    Double-insulated window glass is available for some windows.  Also, consider heat-absorbing or reflecting glass.  This specially colored glass can reduce heat generated by direct sunlight by 40 to 70%.  Metal-frame windows should be double glazed to reduce heat and cooling loss.

     Screens may be converted into storm windows, if your budget will not permit permanent storm windows.  Cover the screens with 2-mil polyethylene film and staple the film into place over the screening.  Space the staples about 4-inches apart, and make sure the film is not puckered or gapped.  Polyethylene film is also excellent for emergency repairs, such as, it may be used to seal the broken part of a window.  And, if shingles are blown from your roof, polyethylene film can be used to seal the roof until repairs can be made.

    Permanent storm windows should be sealed with caulking compound.  After you wash the inside of the storm window and the front side of the window that faces the storm window, caulk the joint between the window casing and the window frame.  The storm window may be removed by first removing the bead of caulking.  Storm windows that are used year-round prevent much heat loss during the winter and heat gain during the summer months.

    Corner joints of storm windows often split open, causing heat loss or gain.  Sometimes you can nail and glue the joints back together.  If not, buy metal corner or joint braces to repair the window (or screen).  The joint should be tightly pulled together; then nail the corner brace into place. 

    A broken window sash (glass) or broken storm window and doors will cause energy to be quickly lost.  Even a small section of cracked glass can reduce heating and cooling efficiency.  To repair a broken window, first remove the broken glass.  Wear gloves to protect your hands, and remove as much broken glass as possible.

    Some windows (especially storm windows) have tiny wooden strips that help hold the glass in the window frame.  Find the key strip of wood; it usually fits against the face of a side strip.  Break the paint seal between the strip and the window frame with a sharp razor knife.  Pry the holdings strips loose.  A stiff-bladed putty knife or a wide flat chisel makes a good prying tool.  Be careful not to split the holding strip.  If you do split the strip, save the pieces; you may be able to patch them later.  If you can’t use the old strips, you can buy new ones at a building material store.  Remove all broken glass from the channels of the frames (mullions).  The channels have to be clean and smooth to accept the new glass.  If the window is glazed with glazing compound, remove all the old glazing with a putty knife.  Also, remove the metal glazier’s points that held the old glass in place.

   Install new glass in the frame.  If glazing is used, secure the glass with glazier’s points.  The points are pressed into place about 3 to 4 inches apart.  If the glass is held in the frame with strips, tack them in, and attach the key strip last.  I recommend tempered replacement glass which is stronger than regular glass.  If tempered glass is broken, it will shatter into small pieces and not large jagged ones.  The glass for the window should be cut 1/16 or 1/8 inch smaller than the opening to be filled.

    Prime the glass and the wooden frame with paint for a good seal.  Let the paint run about ¼ inche onto the glass. If stripes are used to hold the glass in the window, seal both the window and the back of the strips with paint.  Wipe in glazing compound after the paint has dried.  Ball the compound in your fingers and place it against the glass.  Then use the putty knife to form a 45 degree angle between the glass and the edge of the frame.  First, approximate the angle, then fill it. 

   Smooth the glazing with the tip of the putty knife.  Run the knife at a 45 degree angle along the glass; let one edge of the knife move along the glass and the flat part of the blade run along the frame.  The angle helps to give a smooth, consistent job.  If the putty knife seems to pick up the glazing compound, scour the blade by jabbing it into the earth or polish the blade with steel wool.

    Storm windows with metal frames usually have a rubber or plastic like gasket that holds the window in the frame.  First, remove all broken glass from the frame, and then pry the frame apart at the mitered corners.  The corners may be held by a screw in the edge of the window frame.  The trick is to apply the gasket to the edge of the glass.  Then place the glass in the frame and push it into place.  You may have to experiment several times to make the unit fit.  Use a mild solution of soap on the gasket and frame to help the gasket slide easily in to the frame.



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