Our double-hung window frames are still in good condition, but the windows leak, won’t stay open, and sweat during the winter. Is there a way to just upgrade the glass portion without the expense of ripping out the entire window?—Ron A.
Your window situation is common and many of the major window manufacturers have come to your rescue. Instead of replacing the entire window, you can upgrade the glass with a tilt-in sash replacement kit. Using these kits will not change the look of your home.
Installing a sash replacement kit is a fairly simple do-it-yourself job requiring only a few hand tools. The cost of the kit is somewhat less than a new replacement, but the big savings is in not having to hire a contractor to replace the window.
Since glass is the heart of any window, replacing just the sashes will reduce your utility bills and window condensation during the winter. All sash replacement kits available include new tilt-in jamb liner channels and pivot cams. These channels allow you to tilt in each window sash individually for easy cleaning from indoors, yet still form an efficient airtight seal.
The new tilt-in channels in the kit are designed to fit perfectly in your old window frames. The new sashes fit snugly into the channels, eliminating any old weight-type counterbalances used to hold the window open. These channels are designed to hold the window open in any position while still allowing the sash to be moved up and down easily. They are made of durable plastic to retain their tension and resist wear.
The high-efficiency glass options available for the sash kits are the same ones available in other new replacement windows. Installing low-emissivity (low-e) double-pane glass with argon gas in the gap is an adequate and reasonably priced choice for most areas of the country.
If you have problems with outdoor road or other noise, consider getting krypton gas instead of argon gas in the gap between the panes. It is more dense and blocks more noise and energy loss. Both krypton and argon gas are as clear as air, so they are not visible inside the window.
All the replacement sash manufacturers use wood for the framing. It is strong, a natural insulator, and easy to work with. Most are available in natural or primed finishes that you can paint to match the existing window frame color. For nearly maintenance-free windows, select a sash kit with aluminum cladding on the exterior surfaces. It should never need painting, and other than regular cleaning, you can pretty much forget them.
Tilt-in replacement sash kits include everything you need to install one in an existing window frame: two sashes, locks, tilt-in pivots, jamb liner channels, hardware, and an instructional video. There are literally hundreds of sizes, often in 1- and 2-inch increments, so it is usually not a problem finding the proper size to fit your existing window frames.
The tools you need to install a kit are a hammer, saw, putty knife, pliers, and finishing nails. Pry the old sash stops loose from the window frame. Be careful with this step because there may be several coats of old paint on them you will have to break through.
When they are removed, tack the new channel clips into place on the inside surfaces of the window frame. Snap the channels over the clips. Insert the top sash into the channels first, followed by the pivots and then the lower sash. Replace the old sash stops and you are done.