Repairing triple track aluminum storms

latimoreMarch 13, 2011

We have an 1880s farmhouse with 2 over 2 original double hungs which are in pretty good condition, probably thanks to their aluminum triple track storm windows.

I spent Saturday reuniting missing storm panes with their windows and evaluating their condition and was pleased to find that only one was broken and one was missing. I plan to have the broken one repaired and replace the other.

I have about 10 screens that need to be replaced (just the screen itself, I have all the frames). I am scared to take the wood windows apart and attempt any repairs to them, so I will leave those to professionals, but I feel OK with doing some work to the storms to make them perform better (easier to operate, more energy efficient, etc.). We do not have a/c so we open and close our windows often.

We're planning a house painting project this summer and I had already told the painters that I would be responsible for removing all of the storm window panes/screens (not the frames) so they could paint the wooden windows. They said usually the storms are not painted, but ours were in the past. So to stay consistent, the painter will paint the frames when he does the wood window, and repainting the visible parts of the panes and screens while they are out will be my job.

I figured out that I can buy a roll of the "invisible" screen and spline to redo all of the screens for all of the windows in the house (32) for about $120. All of the screens and panes also have a channel that I think is supposed to hold weatherstripping but it is all so old that it just turned to dust when I tried to get a chunk out. If a 3/16" x 3/16" wool pile weatherstrip is the right thing for this application, I could buy enough to do all of the screens and panes for about $100.

So $250 or so (including some tools) does not sound like a bad investment. However, I have NO idea how long this project would take. Or if it is even worth it from a functionality/energy efficiency point of view.

And also, while I have all of these windows apart, would it be advisable to install a low-E film on the inside of the storm window? That would probably cost another $200 with the DIY Gila Light but I don't know if that is a good product and/or if the cost/effort would be worth it. (I would only consider that if it would not change the exterior appearance of the windows, i.e. no mirrored effects.)

I would appreciate your help and advice. Thanks for taking the time to read my question!

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I have the aluminum storms/screens you mention, but they don't have weatherstripping, as that would interfere with them opening in their tracks--mine have a sort of rubber channel in one side which allows the panel to slide a hair (hopefully) so it can be removed--most of the time it doesn't really work. Personally, the aluminum is going to suck heat right out of the house no matter what, so trying to weatherstrip them is worthless. Buy the screening and spline and let go with that.
I've never tried the low-e films, but all films are notoriously hard to get to adhere, and with the metal being such a poor insulator, I think it too would be a waste of money. If you were to put it on the interior wooden windows, that might be a better choice.
Just a side note, I"m going to be replacing my aluminums with wooden storms this year--made by me--I'll let you all know how it goes.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2011 at 11:31PM
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"Personally, the aluminum is going to suck heat right out of the house no matter what, so trying to weatherstrip them is worthless."

Aluminum storms are R-0 but if tight limit infiltration losses.

Weatherstripping is to reduce infiltration.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2011 at 10:00AM
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Thanks for your input. I think I can handle the screens and chip away at those through the spring so they are ready for summer.

As far as the weatherstripping, yes, I was thinking it would help to reduce air infiltration. There are weatherstripping channels on both the glass panes and the screens. It makes sense to me to weatherstrip the glass panes, but why would there be a channel on the screens? Hmmm. Maybe to keep bugs out?

    Bookmark   March 17, 2011 at 3:27PM
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"but why would there be a channel on the screens?"

Probably to keep bugs out and make the panels fit better.

Storms are usually designed around the glass insert.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2011 at 5:25PM
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