Thursday, November 4, 2010

Broadway Storm Windows

First, a note to my regular readers: Thank you so much for checking in so faithfully! Every click helps me remember that something I do is actually appreciated enough to be sought out by someone. Don't stop! I apologize for not posting very much recently--I've had a head cold for about a week, and I'm still fighting with it. Both of us have been suffering. And you know how it goes--just because you feel like hell doesn't mean there isn't still a lot of stuff that needs to get done. The following is a case in point.

Sue repainted the old wooden storm windows on the Broadway side of the house, which needed it; their last reglazing and paint job was about eight years ago, thanks to my mom, who loves to paint stuff and did a wonderful job on these.

There are ten of these storms; four each on the first and second floors, and two (thankfully smaller!) on the third.

I often wonder why the heck Grandma didn't replace them, when she did all the rest, with aluminum ones? My guess is that it was probably the expense, for one thing; also, Broadway Street is noisy and an abundant source of sooty black street-dirt. Also, those windows face northwest, whence come the icy cold blasts, and she'd want a good seal on that side in wintertime.

When dealing with these storm windows, a big part of the work is simply getting them in and out. Each one weighs nearly twenty pounds, and they're about five feet tall. My Dad (having messed with them most of his life) knows the tricks for getting them in and out, and he taught me some of them this year.

Maybe you will find what follows boring, but to me it's crucial information. One of the reasons I'm writing this is so that I will remember it for next time, so I can fuss with these windows by myself.

First, naturally, it's a given on all the storm windows on this house that you absolutely need to keep track of which window goes where. They are not interchangeable. So each storm is marked at the top with something like: "2nd floor dining room north" or "1st floor living room south."

Getting them in and out is pretty scary for me, considering that during the process you can only grasp them by the bottom foot or so, which is difficult given their weight and height. Don't try it on a windy day!

To reinstall them, you must grasp them about a foot above their bottom edge, using an elbow against the base as leverage. The elbow-thing is one of the tricks that Dad showed me.

The side that will face the house should be facing up, and you push the storm window out the lower part of the open window. Then, using the strength of your hands and wrists, you have to flip the storm upward so it's more or less in position. For me, that's the scariest part. I can't help but think that I'm one wrist spasm or sneeze away from disaster. I consider that my car is parked three stories below.

You can rest the storm window temporarily on the brick sill (but don't let go of it, of course). Then you have to hook the top part in place. To do this, push the bottom outward, away from the building, to get the hooks at the top of the storm to slip over the tabs at the top of the window frame.

This is often easier said than done. Usually, you cannot actually see the hooks and tabs as you're doing this, so it must be done by feel. It usually takes a couple of tries. Is it on?

The final bit, once you're pretty sure the window is hooked at the top, is to draw the lower portion inward and hook it in place at the bottom. Again, that is often easier said than done, since sometimes it's a tight fit--layers of paint--and there's sometimes no way to "push" on it from the outside.

(Another handy hint: keep track of which storm window of each pair fits most tightly, and try putting that one in place first, so you can utilize the neighboring open window so you can lean out to do some pushing, or to inspect.)

We do think about replacing these heavy antique storm windows, which we leave up throughout the year, with more "modern" aluminum sliding storm windows with screens--like we have on almost all the rest of the windows. I try to imagine what it would be like to have those windows be open-able, and it appeals to me, especially during the summer. But the cost is prohibitive, and it seriously isn't very high on our list of priorities.

Mom has counseled us not to fool with aluminum storms, anyway. She says we should set our sights on full-fledged, insulated replacement windows on that side of the house--but then if we can't afford simple storms, I don't know how we can afford that.

So this fall Sue repainted the good ol', bad ol', storm windows, and we've got them all back in place, and I think we'll be able to get another ten years out of them before we have to revisit the issue.

She did a great job, and they do look really nifty. They, and the old-fashioned sash windows they protect, are in marvelous shape, considering their age.

And yes--I'm rather proud.

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