A Few Reasons Why NOT to Replace Your Old Windows
Okay, I hear this one all of the time. As an old house renovation contractor, I am often approached by homeowners who want to replace their old windows. Sometimes this is the first item on their list when they buy an old house. The reason is that the old, drafty windows are inefficient and hard to use, and quite honestly they often are correct. But slight changes can help these issues. Instead of replacing them, we suggest just repairing the ones you have. Here are a few reasons as to why. In this post, I’ll name a few.
We can start with quality craftsmanship. Old window sashes were made with wood that is now insect resistant and will last forever if properly taken care of. If built in the 1920’s or before, the window was probably made from old-growth lumber, which is considered to be more decay resistant than lumber used today.
And the glass in old windows can be just as important as the sashes themselves. The glass looks wavy, distorted and handmade…unlike a pane of glass purchased at your hardware store. It was either made with crown glass or cylinder glass which were both created by a glassworker blowing and/or hand working the glass.
Older windows are great because they can also be easily repaired. Not necessarily the sashes that have been rotted out, but definitely the parts included such as the locks, cords, or weight systems. For the sashes, an experienced carpenter will be able to repair/replace the damaged part in a few hours to a full day, but the point is, that it can be done on premise with the right tools, wood and knowledge.
And yes, old windows can be more efficient. They just need attention. For instance, the majority of them that I come across have cracked old glaze. Many have slight openings around the trim and wall and simply need to be caulked and others lack a good seal when locked which weather stripping could easily assist with.
Lastly, the best part of repairing, keeping and restoring your original old windows is that you are most definitely helping the environment by choosing to be a green homeowner. Consider how many cheap aluminum and vinyl windows are thrown away yearly- only to sit in our landfills for years. Whereas an all-wooden original antique window can last way more than 100 to 150 years!