Leaky Old Windows

vjrntsFebruary 16, 2008
My house has seven very large inward\-opening casement windows. They all have storm windows, but the storms aren't very good. The casements are leaded glass, 10 panes per swinging unit. You can see two of these windows in the picture.

The air infiltration is awful. You can feel a breeze when you stand near the windows, and we really need to seal them up, but I don't know what to do, since we don't want the windows to be caulked shut. We replace the storms with screens and leave the windows open on nice days in the spring, summer and fall, and we don't want to do anything that will make that impossible.

One thing that is definitely in the works is replacing the storms. We are considering (and this is going to contradict what I just wrote in the paragraph above!) putting in permanent storms that will stay in place all year and not be removable in some of the windows. The other windows will have replacement storms that can be swapped for screens, so that each room will have at least one window that can be opened for fresh air.

I think we are also getting a lot of air around each pane of glass. All those little panes are individual small sheets of glass. I don't know how to "caulk" around the lead muntins, though. (Is "muntin" the right word?) I'm sure that there's some special glazing compound for that, but I don't know what it is or how to use it.

But in the meantime, how do we stop the gales of February from sweeping through our first floor?

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

a) Fix the storms so that they don't let any air in. You could caulk them in permenently on the top and sides (never caulk the bottom of storms) or fit some good weatherstripping. There is a pile type (fuzzy) weatherstrip that would work well here, and it's available in self-stick, but it has to be clean dry & warm to adhere. It's also made to slip into a thin saw kerf cut into the edge of the storms, but that's a pro install detail.
b) Fix the weatherstripping situation on the french windows themselves. Repair whatever system is already there, or have it retrofitted with a good setup, which can be either vinyl or metal, depending on the budget.
c) Have a storm panel added to the outside of the casements. This could be either glass (in a thin metal frame) attached with screws or buttons, or plexiglass screwed into the sash and sealed with caulk. If the windows face south or get lots of sun exposure, the permanent install is not recommended, as the summer heat buildup will damage the leaded glass.
d) have the leading redone so the panes are once again tight and weatherproof as they were originally. Time takes its toll on lead and the "cement" used to fill in and strengthen the assembly.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2008 at 11:11AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hi, Casey! I know you from following your kitchen remodeling odyssey. Beautiful job.

You say "b) Fix the weatherstripping situation on the french windows themselves. Repair whatever system is already there, or have it retrofitted with a good setup, which can be either vinyl or metal, depending on the budget."

There is no system there. Wooden doors and wooden frames with nought between them but paint. And I have NO idea what would work. Can you be more specific about what you'd suggest? Even just a URL to a product page would get me going.

And I think you're right about fixing the storms. This spring I'll get out there with a ladder and some fuzzy tape. I think that's definitely a do-it-yourself kind of job.

Thanks for your response!

    Bookmark   February 16, 2008 at 11:30AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Sorry. I'm wrong about there being nothing on the windows. After I finished shooting off my mouth above, I decided to really check, et voila!

There is a metal spring-like strip on the edge of one, pictured in the first picture. Not a coiled spring, but a long piece of aluminum, about an inch wide that is nailed along one edge, and then bent upward at the nail line. The other window sweeps up against this bent strip, pressing it inward.

At the bottom of the window is a metal ledge built into the window frame, that slots into a channel at the bottom of the swinging window unit. I tried to get a picture, but wasn't very successful.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2008 at 12:26PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

The metal is the good stuff. Make sure it's closing like it should- mating surfaces generally work better if clear of paint & w/o debris in the grooves. One window usually bolts closed first, then the other one latches to it. See that they both are closing fully. Sometimes 50 years of paint buildup prevents that.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2008 at 1:59PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


I always love looking at pictures of your house; I think it's my fave of all the ones I've seen posted on GW.

You could add metal spring weatherstripping along all the sides of those casement windows - you can still get copper weatherstripping, and it's easy to install, if a bit fidgety to do. BTW, the "spring" in this material's name is not a coil, but the lifting action along the bend that runs down the strip causing it to "spring" up and down as the window or door is closed. Sometimes it helps to run a stiff putty knife down to free up the edge so it springs more liveli-er.

You could also add metal weatherstripping to the sides (and top) of your storms.

I do not know what to suggest for the lead cames (what you're calling muntins) in the windows, but I expect they can be tightened up, too, by a leaded glass expert. The cost might be shocking, though. I'm trying to recall if there is a Preservation Brief covering leaded windows. You might check that out, to see.


    Bookmark   February 18, 2008 at 12:59AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

"But in the meantime, how do we stop the gales of February from sweeping through our first floor?"

For a short-term I'm-freezing-my-can-off quick-and-dirty (is that enough hyphens?? LOL) solution, hit the hardware store and pick up plastic sheeting for the windows. The shrink-film kind works surprisingly well. Leaves something to be desired aesthetically, but you gotta do what you gotta do to keep warm until you can get your storm windows fixed.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2008 at 5:56PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have old leaky doors too that I want to save. You can try and seal the doors up all day long, but you won't get much out of it with single pains and lead. You still need to do it to stop the drafts, but your gain overall will be minimal.

I would build one piece storms that would attach the the exterior of the window frames for winter and make a weather tight seal. In the spring you can take them down and store them. Maybe even build a second frame with screens. You said these open in, right?

Otherwise, replace them with new units from anderson or kolbe and kolbe. Depends on the quality of your house.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2008 at 10:21AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Need your ideas for a new-old home,...
We are planning to build a home that appears to be...
interesting plaster job - what to do to fix it?
I'm doing some work in my dining room that includes...
Should we try to reuse old windows?
I am not sure how old the windows in our second floor...
prairiemoon2 z6 MA
Extruded Mortar
I have an older home built in the 1950`s which has...
Weird things found in old houses
So I went on a basement rampage this weekend, donning...
Sponsored Products
Austin Urban Stone Gray Paint Shaker Kitchen Cabinet Sample
CliqStudios Cabinets
Cypress Kid's Picnic Table
Satin and Suede Stripe Grommet 84-inch Curtain Pair
AICO Furniture - Villa Valencia Curio - 72505-55
Great Furniture Deal
Each 108"L Curtain
$225.00 | Horchow
Blindsgalore Signature Drapery Panel: Dynasty Faux Silk
Bordeaux Outdoor Armchair with Cushion
Grandin Road
Bimbi White Reticello Quadro Wall Sconce by Oggetti Luce
$280.00 | Lumens
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™