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Community and Q&A

Old Windows in a Tudor Home

quF3KeWyUo | Posted in Energy Efficiency and Durability on

I own an older (built 1932) Tudor home in northern Ohio and I am doing some restoration, repair and remodeling throughout my home. I want to keep as many original details as possible, including the original windows, which are not energy efficient. How can I keep my original windows, and make them more energy efficient. Thank you.

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  1. Steve El | | #1
  2. darryl | | #2

    I just finished installing double paned interior storm windows from Advanced Energy Panels on a stone house for a freind in Asheville. You can really feel the difference. Your older home can now have affordable high performance triple glazing without tearing out those old steel casement windows and hauling them to the dump. This is what the energy tax credits from the stimulus were meant to accomplish,

  3. J Chesnut | | #3

    I would recommend taking a step back and having an energy audit on your home to identify the air leakage rate with a blower door test and identify through infrared thermography the areas of your home with the greatest heat loss.
    You typically do not get the most bang for your buck when trying to increase the energy efficiency of your house by investing in new/replacement windows. Increasing the air tightness of the entire home, adding insulation value to the thermal envelope and investing in higher efficiency equipment should be considered before replacing windows.
    Do your old windows have proper storms windows? Have measures been taken to air seal and insulate around the existing window frames? Both these measures can be done without altering the existing aesthetic details that you appreciate.
    In my old home in Minnesota the original double hungs were replaced with double paned Pella inserts. This I'm sure diminished winter drafts and frost on the interior glass pane and therefore improved overall comfort while allowing the original interior and exterior wood trim to remain intact. The installers failed to insulate and air seal around the old frame and in a few instances caulked in a way that trapped water which lead to rotting framing and sheathing - a couple of things to watch out for if you do decide to install window replacements.

    Darryl wrote, "Your older home can now have affordable high performance triple glazing without tearing out those old steel casement windows and hauling them to the dump." While I advocate for triple glazing on new construction in heating climates, triple glazing is not usually smart investment in retrofits and calling it affordable is still a stretch. Reusing a steel casement would entirely undermine the U-value of a triple pane insert so I would have to question Darryl's advice.
    Beware of contractors that focus on the window replacement tax credits. Find someone that understands how your house as a whole is working as a thermal envelope and makes recommendations for improvements from this perspective.

  4. davidmeiland | | #4

    J Chesnut, Darryl seems to be talking about leaving the original windows entirely intact and adding storm windows. This is a great option to consider on an older house with single glazed windows. Increasingly there are contractors out there who focus on window work such as this--they understand that removing existing units wholesale and installing new ones is not necessarily going to pay back, and it can really change the look of the house.

    I certainly do not question your advice to perform a full audit on the house. That's part of what I do and I think it's very useful in almost every case.

  5. J Chesnut | | #5

    Thanks for the explanation. I did not read Darryl's post close enough.
    I'm glad now to learn about the interior double pane storm window. Thanks also to Darryl for pointing this out.

  6. David Meiland | | #6

    My 1920s house used to have wood double-hungs but the previous butcher removed the sash and installed vinyl replacement windows. I'm going to re-replace those with painted wood double-hungs, probably from a manufacturer like Loewen, and then make wooden storms myself. The storms will go on for the heating season and will (a) help control energy costs, and (b) help protect the windows themselves from the elements. These are equally important to me, in fact protecting the windows is probably more important, since it takes a lot of time and money to buy and install them.

  7. Riversong | | #7

    the previous butcher removed the sash and installed vinyl replacement windows. I'm going to re-replace those with painted wood double-hungs

    I hope you're not saying that the current butcher is going to do this work? ;-)

  8. davidmeiland | | #8

    The only thing I'm going to butcher is the budget, but I like the view, the dirt is black, and it's close to town... so it should turn out OK.

  9. Dan Kolbert | | #9

    We have had excellent results with both Accurate Metal's interlocking metal weatherstripping and with various gaskets, but you need to find someone who knows what they're doing.

  10. J Chesnut | | #10

    Would you expand on why you are going through the effort of taking out the vinyl replacements.
    Did they fail in some regard or are you worried about them failing? Is it for energy performance reasons?

  11. David Meiland | | #11

    J, they are (a) ugly, (b) not at all in keeping with the house, and (c) not very airtight, due partly to poor installation. The installer (previous owner) did a lousy job--he didn't square them up, but instead forced them into out-of-square double-hung jambs. The stops are not cleanly installed and there is a lot of caulk. They are clear IG and I am going to investigate the possible wisdom of replacing with high SHGC low-e glass, although IMO the clear glass probably performs quite well, especially on the south and east sides.

    What is needed goes a little beyond the units themselves--I need to pull the trim and insulate the weight pockets and spaces around the jambs. Some of the interior and exterior trim needs replacing. I should probably improve the flashing. There are no storms.

    If I am going to go to the trouble of rehabbing the openings, I am going to replace the units as well. These are not good enough to keep. This is a little ways down the road and the units will be 15+ years old by the time it happens. They will be re-homed to someone building a greenhouse or a shed. One thing about my locale, I can and do give away almost anything in re-usable condition.

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