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Save the Steam! Our Old Home Renovation Project!

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  • gmcinnes
    gmcinnes Member Posts: 118
    edited January 2023
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    @AdmiralYoda I'm sure no-one makes wooden storms any more. They do look more period appropriate than aluminum. I don't think I'd install aluminum.

    Wooden ones are not hard to make, but do require a lot of patience as you have to have your plane in hand and custom fit them to your aged, no-longer-square window jamb :smile: I've restored all 36 of mine, and rebuilt a few. I wouldn't start from scratch building them all!

    They're also a massive PITA if you want to open your window in the summer. Laddering to the 2nd floor and using both hands to try and swing an awkward 20lb load off a hook is no idea of fun. But we've found that it's better to keep the windows and blinds closed even in summer because the air outside the house is hotter than inside. We open a door at night and turn a whole house fan on, bringing cool air in.

    I hear replacing the glass in the storms with polycarbonate reduces sound transmission. But I'm inclined to add extra inner storms rather than rebuild the exterior ones.

    @KC_Jones I've used the same two part process of liquid wood consolidate followed by epoxy putty with products from Abatron. Works really well. I've even used it to replace sizable pieces of rotted roof cornice molding (6" x 6" ish). I cut out the rotted piece, screwed in backer lath and slowly built it up into shape. We'll see if it lasts :smiley:

    I like the look of the weather stripping. I've struggled with spring bronze. It's not that easy to work with. But like I say, we don't really open our windows. It's so loud it's like sitting on the edge of the highway, and it seems to heat the house rather than cool it. So I've settled with mortite around the sashes and it's fine, if a bit unsightly.

    Anything I've learned about windows I learned from John Leeke and "Saving America's Windows":

    http://historichomeworks.com/publications/#compendium
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,061
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    For our 110+ year old Museum building, we just had the 3 story building repainted and window glazing replaced.

    We had to reach a compromise for budget and preservation purposes.

    We are wrapping the sills with aluminum and installing white aluminum storms on all windows.

    A few of the sashes will operate for summer time ventilation.

    We do not have any heating in the building.

    The storms are just to preserve the decaying window sashes and jams.

    I know...throw rocks....stone me.

    But we will never have the funds to do much else.

    It looks pretty good, we have gotten many complements.

    All white, but then it is the "White Horse Museum".
    gmcinnes
  • AdmiralYoda
    AdmiralYoda Member Posts: 627
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    @gmcinnes Thank you for the tips! It would probably be much easier and more effective for me to purchase or build interior storms. I can make a double pane with two different thickness plastics that will magnetically adhere to the existing windows. The cost for me to build is about half of what it would cost to purchase them already made and I'd have thicker plastics which should equal more sound deadening.
    gmcinnes
  • The Steam Whisperer
    The Steam Whisperer Member Posts: 1,215
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    Larson still makes aluminum storms in 3 grades available at all the big box stores. Definitely go for the low- E glass.... The improvement in performance in quite apparent. This is especially the case in the summer with windows that get lots of direct sunlight. We have roughly 22 windows and doors from 1903 on our first floor. We replaced 5 poor condition wooden storms with aluminum low e storms and cut our cooling costs about 1/3. The spaces are also much warmer in the winter. The Low e glass equipped windows are noticable warmer than the plain glass aluminum storms on other windows in our home. Our original 1903 windows were very well weather stripped from when the house was built.
    To learn more about this professional, click here to visit their ad in Find A Contractor.
    gmcinnes
  • gmcinnes
    gmcinnes Member Posts: 118
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    A benefit of exterior storms is that they protect the interior sashes. The windows that were missing storms were almost beyond repair. The ones that typically had storms for half the year needed reglazed and repainted, but rarely wood work. Over time going without would probably mean keeping up with more maintenance, but that is what it is.

    I can certainly understand the appeal of removing them though. Installing and removing interior storms is probably easier, and if you're lucky enough to have 'wavy' glass it really makes a difference and lets it sparkle beautifully.
  • JakeCK
    JakeCK Member Posts: 1,356
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    Outside aluminum storm windows are priced the same or higher than contractor-quality replacement vinyl windows. So the market for them is small. I have a small wood shop and have made many wood storm sashes for my own house, which I like to keep somewhat original. Hardware for wood sashes and screens, along with bronze screening, which lasts forever here by the ocean is still available.
    I disagree, I replaced all of the aluminum triple tracks on my house for less than half, maybe even a 1/3 of the cost of replacing all of my windows with cheap-o plastic windows.
    gmcinnes
  • The Steam Whisperer
    The Steam Whisperer Member Posts: 1,215
    edited January 2023
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    JakeCK said:



    Outside aluminum storm windows are priced the same or higher than contractor-quality replacement vinyl windows. So the market for them is small.

    I have a small wood shop and have made many wood storm sashes for my own house, which I like to keep somewhat original. Hardware for wood sashes and screens, along with bronze screening, which lasts forever here by the ocean is still available.

    I disagree, I replaced all of the aluminum triple tracks on my house for less than half, maybe even a 1/3 of the cost of replacing all of my windows with cheap-o plastic windows.

    IIRC my low e glass decent grade Aluminum storms were around $120.00 each for double hung windows about 28 x 64 inches. I think that's a whole lot better than new cheap windows. As for effectiveness, take a look at this study....

    https://escholarship.org/content/qt1v14h0dp/qt1v14h0dp_noSplash_eb907732b1e0b0e13c3d40cd0e57b9d8.pdf?t=li5jfs

    They show a center of glass R- value of around 3.
    To learn more about this professional, click here to visit their ad in Find A Contractor.
    gmcinnes
  • Long Beach Ed
    Long Beach Ed Member Posts: 1,203
    edited January 2023
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    Around here we get decent energy star vinyl replacement windows for $140, which is our same cost for a triple track exterior aluminum storm sash. Wood storm sashes are about double that price if I buy them.

    This year, I assume the prices have both increased.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,283
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    My experience with the Energy Star windows is that they last -- if you are fortunate -- 10 to 15 years. The mode of failure varies with the manufacturer. Rather a contrast to the window I'm staring out as I type here -- which was constructed, as near as we can make out -- in about 1780 and is still just fine, thank you.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    gmcinnesJakeCKvhauk
  • Long Beach Ed
    Long Beach Ed Member Posts: 1,203
    edited January 2023
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    Couldn't agree more with Jamie. The originals will last forever with a little care. Anyone who works with wood knows the quality of old growth sash. Vinyl replacements? Rental-house garbage.
    gmcinnes
  • The Steam Whisperer
    The Steam Whisperer Member Posts: 1,215
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    Around here we get decent energy star vinyl replacement windows for $140, which is our same cost for a triple track exterior aluminum storm sash. Wood storm sashes are about double that price if I buy them.

    This year, I assume the prices have both increased.

    and to go along with the program Jamie's comments, good aluminum storms last for 50 years or much more.
    To learn more about this professional, click here to visit their ad in Find A Contractor.
  • dabrakeman
    dabrakeman Member Posts: 552
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    There are a few millworks that will do custom wood storm windows, but really building your own exterior storms surprisingly (to me) can be a fairly simple cost effective diy carpentry project and I'm no carpenter. I use 2x2 cedar which when painted has great longevity. Good thick large gap weather stripping up top and clamped down on the sides and thick felt stripping on the bottom sill is a godsend for handling the imperfections of old house angles and surfaces enabling easy weather tight fitment. Bigger windows that would be too heavy to manage I have done in top/bottom sections with more of that wonderful weather stripping in between. I only knock out a few at a time because I usually can find more fun things to do but each has worked out quite well for cutting down on draft, noise and weathering of the original windows.
    Long Beach Ed
  • gmcinnes
    gmcinnes Member Posts: 118
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    @Jamie Hall It's so sad Jamie. I have a visual of sashes like that all over the country smashing as they are thrown into the back of a dumpster. For the same money or less they could have been tuned up and been as close as matters to as efficient. With the occasional small investment they would have lasted forever. It's heartbreaking. The only Dead Men rolling in their graves faster than the steam heads are the glaziers.

    @dabrakeman Jeeze! It never occurred to me to use weatherstripping to kludge the gap on the ones I built! The extant storms were so finely crafted you have to push on them a bit to force the air in the gap out through the edges when you install them. Being uneducated I just tried to copy that. I could have had a day of my life back for each one if I'd thought of weatherstripping! I lost a month of summer weekends :)

    Reading your post it occurs that, if you aren't averse to using modern techniques like pocket hole screws, weatherstripping, and aren't worried about matching routed edges on original work etc., it could be a very quick, easy project. You can even have the people you purchase glass from do the glass cutting and glazing after you build the frame. I found that to be a negligible addition to the cost of the glass (although the quality of that work in the glaziers I've tried in New Haven has been not great, but I'm a perfectionist). At that point it would probably take more labor to paint it and hang it than build it!
  • JakeCK
    JakeCK Member Posts: 1,356
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    Around here we get decent energy star vinyl replacement windows for $140, which is our same cost for a triple track exterior aluminum storm sash. Wood storm sashes are about double that price if I buy them.

    This year, I assume the prices have both increased.

    and to go along with the program Jamie's comments, good aluminum storms last for 50 years or much more.
    The old storms that I replaced where from the 50's. They made it 70 years give or take. Granted they were well past their expiration date. lol
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 6,924
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    Alot of multi-talented Wetheads here.  Mad Dog 🐕 
    WMno57CLamb
  • dabrakeman
    dabrakeman Member Posts: 552
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    These are representative of the diy storms I was describing on my home. Weather strip sealed against the window framing on the back side of the storm along the top and sides. Felt at bottom so can slide it in for compressive sealed fit top to bottom (second seal at top of storm). Home made clips to secure and compress seals against the window framing along the sides. One picture gives view from inside (this one has been in place in the sunroom for 10 years now, 7 such windows on the sunroom). Made quite a difference in that sunroom. Being all windows and no real insulation the temperature fluctuations were pretty large. Now I really have to slow that radiator down.


    bburd
  • Long Beach Ed
    Long Beach Ed Member Posts: 1,203
    edited January 2023
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    You know they make nice stainless hangers and clamps out of stainless for those beautiful wooden storm windows...

    https://phelpscompany.com/window-hardware-catalog/storm-screen/
  • dabrakeman
    dabrakeman Member Posts: 552
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    The hangers are stainless, identical to what you show. The side clamps are just nickel and dime stuff.
  • gmcinnes
    gmcinnes Member Posts: 118
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    They look great @dabrakeman.

    I have similar hangers and the storms are pulled tight into the sash with a hook and eye at the bottom of the frame. 

    Hook on the storm frame, eye in the sill.  It can really apply apply a good tension and keep it tight in there.
  • johncharles
    johncharles Member Posts: 50
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    One of the former owners of my 1910 house replaced the windows with vinyl windows my guess is 10-15 years ago. They look bad, don’t match the architecture of the house at all, and most of them are failing in some way. A little while while ago we heard a loud clunk in the middle of the night, it woke us up, went to look a window had just fallen on the floor. That’s happened to two more since. The ones on the sunny side of the house also make popping sound as they warm up in the sun. 

    As far as I can tell you have two options, keep the original wood windows and restore them or budget for very high end windows, 1-2k a pop.
  • TAG
    TAG Member Posts: 755
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    I think it's important, @TAG , to keep in mind the distinction between restoration and rehabilitation. They are often of very nearly equal cost, if the latter is done with high quality work, but they have very different objectives. Rehabilitation is intended to take an existing envelope and bring it up to some current standard of architecture and, often, building code. It usually entails a pretty thorough "gut" job, and that allows for current standards is insulation and such like, often changing parititions, often adding reinforcement to joists and other beams, new interior wall coverings (e.g. drywall in place of plaster) -- and so on. It also usually involves new windows and doors. It also involves a new and often very different heating system. The end result is a nice current standard structure which happens to live in an old skin.

    It has no other historic value.

    A restoration, on the other hand, is just what it says: a conscious effort to restore -- that is, make like new (as of the period of the structure and any additions, with an eye to replicating to the extent possible the original, where the original does, in fact, need replacement. This often involves some real trade-offs (one of the more common is what to do about exterior walls -- do I rip out the interior plaster so I can do a proper job of current standard insulation, or do I live with what's there and accept the additional heat loss? Not an obvious decision -- as restoring those interior wall surfaces will be much more expensive, if indeed you can find a craftsman who can even do it).

    However, the end result is a structure with considerable historical value.

    It's a matter of clear thinking as to your objectives.

    The OP mentioned "Gut" ... In an earlier I asked the OP why. When faced with an old house the question of how far to go always comes into play. I did an 1810 federal in Philadelphia that was in remarkable shape -- it was also in a part of the city that would reward a proper restoration. In general an old historic house should be restored ,,,, but it is extremely expensive and many old houses are just old houses -- when allowed to decay are not worth the cost. You can have old sash remade and sometimes that's the best way to proceed if the old are falling apart .... it really depends. Having sash remade can easily cost $1500 per window .. without the needed fitting and paint work. Not something in most people budget
  • gmcinnes
    gmcinnes Member Posts: 118
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    Jeeze. I need to get into sash making :)
    CLamb