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Old Window that Work!

General Information

Retrofitting Historic Windows. Thought provoking tips for evaluating energy savings/loss from your historic/older windows and what you can do about it. From the National Trust for Historic Preservation, May 2014.

New Guidebook for Window Repair and Weatherization in Historic Homes; December 2012. The Architectural Heritage Center has completed a guidebook on window repair and weatherization for owners of vintage homes. This concise booklet identifies repair and maintenance solutions that maintain historic integrity while improving your home's energy efficiency.

Saving Windows, Saving Money: Evaluating the Energy Performance of Window Retrofit and Replacement. Preservation Green Lab's comprehensive study shows that existing window retrofit strategies come close to energy performance of replacement windows at a fraction of the cost. Fresh Air is a proud contributor to this study. From the National Trust for Historic Preservation, October, 2012.

Preservation Green Lab Releases New Report on the Environmental Value of Building Reuse. Comprehensive research showing preservation is good for the environment too. From the National Trust for Historic Preservation, January 2012.

Historic Wood Windows. A tip sheet from the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

For information on caring for your old home, see www.historichomeworks.com

Frequently Asked Questions

The cords are missing from my window, and it won’t stay open by itself. Can you fix that?

Yes. We’ll remove and reinstall the window sash(es) and moulding, replace the cords and make sure the weights are the proper size. Please see our Services page for more details.

I know the cords are in place, but the window slides shut. Why?

Most likely, the weights aren’t heavy enough to hold the window sash open. During the course of repair, we will replace your weights. When that’s done, the sash will stay open without having to be propped up.

Can you open the windows in my home that have been painted shut?

In the nine years we’ve been in business, we haven’t found one we couldn’t open. During the repair, while the sashes are out, we will safely remove paint from friction surfaces, and clean and lubricate so your windows will function as they were intended…easily! Please see our Services page for more details.

Do you weather strip windows?

Yes. More and more people are asking for weather stripping. Clients have reported a noticable decrease in drafts and noise. Weather stripping also helps the windows slide more smoothly.

My windows are in bad shape and are falling apart. Can you help?

We will visit your home and assess the damage. If the corners of the sash are loose, we can tighten them. If the sashes are beyond repair, we can order a replacement that matches the original and works on the original pulley/cord/weight system.

When can you come and repair my windows?

The prospect of having functioning windows is very exciting to many people! After we talk by phone or email, I will determine whether or not I have an immediate opening. If not, you’ll be added to my waitlist. In either case, I will schedule a time to come to your home, look at each window that concerns you, provide you with a price quote and then, schedule the repair. I work for only one client at a time, so you will receive my undivided attention until your repair job is complete. Many of my clients have expressed that it is worth the wait.

How do you charge?

After visiting your home, examining your windows and reaching agreement with you about the scope of work, I’ll establish a price per window. At that time, we can schedule the repair work. When I return to do the actual repair, I will bring a contract that outlines what we discussed. I will keep you well informed if anything unusual arises, and always consult with you prior to doing additional work.

How long will the project take?

We generally complete two to four windows a day. Some clients choose to have glass replaced or paint stripped while the sashes are out. These activities will add time to the project.

Do you work from the inside or the outside?

Most of our work is done from the inside. The only exception is if the window is painted shut on the outside. Sometimes storm windows need to be removed for outside access.

Do I have to be there while you’re working?

No. I have to meet with you on the first day of work so we can sign a contract. However, once the contract is signed we can work independently.

Do you strip paint?

We do not strip paint, except from the friction surfaces. We have found it’s not necessary to remove all paint in order for the windows to function properly. But we can assist those who want the windows stripped by removing your sash. After they are stripped, we can schedule a time to complete the repair and have your windows functioning again. For information on paint strippers, please see our Resources page.

How do you handle lead-based paint?

Lead was removed from residential paint in 1978. Therefore, when we work on your windows, we assume the paint contains some lead. We take lead seriously and will work in partnership with you to minimize exposure to your family and your home. From setup to cleanup, we have incorporated lead safe work practices into our work routine. For more information about lead-based paint, please visit the OR Department of Human Services website at public.health.oregon.gov.

Will I have to repaint after the windows are repaired?

You may need to do some repainting when we are finished. We try to minimize paint chipping when we remove the sashes and moulding. Much of how the paint reacts depends on the age and quality of the paint, how well the surfaces were prepared prior to painting, and exposure to the elements.

We will lightly wet-sand, fill in nail holes and caulk to help get your window prepped for painting, if painting is needed.

What’s a window sash?

A sash is the window frame and the glass it holds.

What’s a double-hung window?

A double hung window has two sashes, an upper and a lower. Each sash can be opened.

Why doesn’t the top portion of my window open?

In many cases, the top sash has been painted shut, leading clients to believe that it cannot be opened.

What’s the benefit of a double-hung window?

A double-hung window takes advantage of heat patterns to provide the best circulation. Since hot air rises, leaving the top sash open allows heat to escape, while cooler air can enter the house through the lower sash.

I don’t want my top sash to open. Can you just restore the function of the bottom sash?

Yes. But we will check the top sash cords to make sure they are intact. But we cannot repair the top sash without also repairing the bottom sash.

Do you also work on casement windows.

No, at this time, we do not work on casement windows.

I have broken glass. Do you fix that? How about reglazing?

Although we do not replace glass, we will work with you to find a glass company in your area who can help. I have worked with clients in these ways:

  1. We can remove the sash and either you or I can take it to a glass company;
  2. Either you or I could arrange for a glass company to replace the glass while the windows are in place.

When the sashes are out, we will check the glazing. We can touch up glazing, if necessary. For extensive glazing work, we would refer you to a glass shop or to your painter. Please see our Resources page for more information about glazers and painters.

Photo of double-hung window out of its sill, in the process of repair. Close up photo of a double-hung, working window. Photo of a second story building with double-hung, working window. Close up photo of pulleys in window sash.