leaking exterior window sill: replace the framing?

cleo07November 18, 2009


I finally decided to tackle replacing my exterior trim in certain areas where it is starting to rot. The one north facing sill is extrememly rotted. The sill basically crumbled when I touched it.

I opened up the wall from the inside and the sheathing needs to be repaired as well. I can put my finger all the way through it to the siding. I just removed a little of the the siding from the outside to check the extent of damage and found that the 3 2x4 framing studs are also pretty spongy on the exterior side. They are okay on the interior side of the wall.

Do I need to replace these studs or can I use a wood hardener on them. Not replacing them means I can do this job of patching the damaged sheathing, fixing/flashing out the sill and residing the cedar today by myself. I don't want to open it further if I can't fix this today. I am hoping the sill plate is okay too.

If I need to replace the window framing I have to remove the window entirely, reframe etc...and this means my husband needs to help.

Any advice is appreciated. Keep in mind that in the next year I would like to make this 6 foot window into a door. Maybe I can get by without replacing the framing as a temporary fix? The doors that I want don't fit into my budget now or I would just take out the whole window.

Here is a pic...It's a mess. I chopped at the 2x4s to see how rotted that'sn why they are ratched up. Not to mention, the wrap on the house is paper??? Should I use the same wrap or can I use roofing felt or another wrap.

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Okay no answers yet. I still need help after what I did today.

I removed the siding down to the sill plate which looks okay. I cut out the rotten sheathing and replaced it. I injected wood hardener into the studs after scraping off the rot. They need to be replaced but will wait till I get my French doors in the spring.

I have 2 windows butted up side by side, nailed together without framing in between them (not good!) which are each 36 inches. I removed the entire sill under one of them, which was a one 6 inch piece spanning the frame with rabbetted stool on the inside.

I ran out of time and didn't want to risk having the window fall out with school getting out so I left it there. I covered the empty sill under the window with tar paper for the night.

Here is my question...

Does the sill under the window support the windows or are they held in place laterally. I am worried that I am going to heave the whole frame out by trying to get the sill out. The windows are difinitely looser in the frame so I need to reshim them.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2009 at 4:58PM
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I had to do some temporary fixes with windows that were rotted that looks similar to yours. I just had to wait until I could afford it. I used that wood hardener like you did. To fill in the void after digging out all the rot I used whatever, small pieces of wood. I would put some wood, or something solid under window to keep it supported. I also used some spray foam, use the stuff for windows and doors, it is not supposed to expand so much. I also used some wood putty (not the stuff used for filling nail holes) There is a wood putty that is ready to use, I think made by the same place that makes wood hardener. The other wood putty, it's a powder that you mix with water, Durhams. I then painted/primed to give it more protection...I had 5 windows that looked similar to yours. When we got enough money together to replace we had to replace the bottom framing and a stud or two on a few of them. Yes, I do think the sill/bottom is a support. They are nailed into the side, but the bottom I am sure is "what holds it up."

Also, I spray some bleach around the area to kill mold spores, I read somewhere a mixture using borax is good for that too. But after wetting it with the bleach you need to dry it out really good before you seal it all up. The two windows that I had to have studs/bottom 2x4 (that supports the window) replaced I had to tear out drywall and dried it out using fans and portable heaters.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2009 at 8:41AM
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P.S. It looks like you had replacement window done at some time. All the windows on my 19 year old house 3/4 of them had some rot. They must use some really bad wood. I evened scraped primed and painted them a few years after we bought the house. They rotted from the inside out. Paint looked good but I could poke my finger into the wood. I went with all vinyl windows.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2009 at 8:47AM
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Yes, my house is 20 years old but we have owned it for 4 years. The first floor has replacement windows from a previous owner but my second floor is the original single pane.

I am biting the bullet and likely getting a French slider from a friend in the window and door trade to put in this space. The window jambs are really rotted about 5 inches up in addition the other stuff. I told my husband that it is really stupid to replace the rotted sill with nice new sills if I am covering up more rot.

I am planning on full frame replacements on the whole house this spring, but this one had water coming through so it couldn't wait.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2009 at 4:37PM
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Thats what I had to do, full frame replacements. The cost was much higher than just simple replacements. Those stupid old windows cost me $12,000, plus all the repair that I had to do on the drywall. My husband and I are not very handy. If we were more handy we maybe could have done them ourselves. But I don't know. Even with the two guys from the window company it took them almost 5 days to do it. It took us almost two days to replace our front door and we almost killed each other!

    Bookmark   November 19, 2009 at 6:47PM
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I can't wait for the full frame windows. I am not a fan of vinyl inside so I am saving for primed wood interior with fixed grilles/muntins inside and out. I am handy but I am not messing around on a ladder so I will actually pay someone for once.

How much did the install of the full frame replacments cost? I figured window and install will be $1000/window including trim? I want Azek too which will cost more. The windows alone are about $600/piece from a quick check online.

I hear you on working with the husband. I need his help hanging sheetrock on the ceiling tomorrow. I did get half of it up using my head to hold it in place but hurt my neck so bad that I will ask him to help me hang the rest. Should be fun!

    Bookmark   November 20, 2009 at 6:23AM
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When they gave me the quote it wasn't broken down by window, plus it was one of the "specials" buy three get one free. Of course that is a tactic for pressure to sign on the doted line. I had three different companys give me quotes and picked the one in the middle. It averaged out to about $800-850 per window depending on how I did the math.

They removed, disposed of and re-did trim on inside and out. They replaced most of the trimwork on the inside, New oak trim on inside is nicer than the oak I had anyway. Even if they did not replace the inside trim I would have had to do some staining on some wood they installed that shows on the inside. The outside was aluminum wrapped trim. Most of my windows are sliders, hate them but to switch to double hung would have doubled the price on some of the windows because sliders can be bigger, I would have had to put 2 double hung in the spots where there is one slider. The 1,000 is probably a good price for removing and installing plus trim work.

Good luck with your quest for new windows.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2009 at 8:58AM
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I know you have already started repairs on that window, but you have a bigger problem than just the window and siding rotting. From your pix you have a serious water issue, so much so that the 20 yr old gas (galvanized)pipe is rusted.
Before you even think about that new door, you will need some remediation of this issue. Post a pix of the side of the house. I think it is more than northern exposure. No gutters, poor air circulation (bushes to close to the house).You would be wise in resolving this before moving on.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2009 at 11:34AM
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