architecture windows

Tips for Restoring and Weatherizing Historic Windows

When it comes to windows, almost every conversation on the topic nowadays includes a mention of energy efficiency. In the face of global warming and dwindling energy resources, it makes sense for every responsible citizen to ensure that their windows are as energy efficient as possible. Even if you are not very eco-conscious, you can probably agree that it’s good to save money by using less energy.

Restore windows
Restore or replace?

When it comes to historic windows, many homeowners are tempted to replace them with something modern and efficient. The bold marketing claims about dramatic energy savings are very compelling, but that’s only part of the story.

Historic windows are often a very important element of a building’s architectural charm. Replacing them with something modern would, therefore, rob the building of much of its charm. Many choose to make that aesthetic sacrifice to save the planet, but it might not be worth the effort in the end.

Old windows
New windows have an energy cost to manufacture. They are also usually not repairable, so they will have to be thrown away and replaced when they have reached the end of their lifespan. Historic windows, on the other hand, are made from materials – such as wood or steel – and are definitely repairable. With proper maintenance, they can also last for well over a century. Furthermore, with proper weatherization, you can dramatically increase their efficiency, so that you won’t need those newfangled double-glazed things.

Restoring and Weatherizing Your Windows

old windows
The truly conservation-minded, both historically and ecologically, would agree that it’s better to make the best of what you have, than to buy new windows, and consign the old ones to a landfill.

Yes, old single-pane windows are less efficient, but there are many ways to increase their efficiency. Here are some tips for getting your windows back into tiptop shape, and improve their thermal efficiency.

Identify problem areas:

Drafts are a sure sign that your windows are not as efficient as they should be. To identify air leaks, the easiest way is to use smoke on a windy day. Take a cigarette, or candle, and hold it near the window frame. You’ll see a disturbance in the smoke where air comes through. You can now strip off the paint around these spots and examine the frame closer.

It will probably best to remove the window sashes completely in order to properly service and restore the window if needed.

Replace broken glazing and glass:

Cracked and broken glazing is a common source of thermal loss. Replace missing sections with new glazing. You should also replace broken or cracked panes with new glass.

Caulk around the frame:

The window frame itself can be a source of thermal loss. To ensure proper efficiency, seal around its edges with caulking.

Add storm windows:

Instead of trying to fit double-glazed panels to your historic windows and harming their appearance, you can install storm windows over them instead. That way you can dramatically increase their thermal efficiency while retaining the historical look of your windows.

About the Author

Apex Window Werks a window repair company located in Chicago, IL. Its services include but are not limited to home window repair, sliding patio door repair, window defogging and broken glass replacement. Visit their website for more information. Call them to receive free consulting and schedule a free estimation for your window and door works.


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