Loosening up Sticky Windows Q&A

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Dear NH,

My daughter just bought and older house with storm windows that are supposed to slide up in the spring so air can go through the screens. The storm window doesn't slide easily, some are out of track and some seem to stick. They are aluminum. Is there a lubricant that can be applied. Is there some maintenance she should do? Is this type of window that needs to be replaced. Things are going be getting hot here soon, so any help is appreciated.


Dear D,

You can use silicone spray or WD-40 to improve the sliding of the windows. Just keep it off the glass and the latches so they don't become greasy-feeling or smeared. This works 99% of the time. I wouldn't think of having the storm windows replaced unless lubrication doesn't work.

Even then, there may be binding on the windows from the frames due to settlement in the house. You can remove the entire storm window frame and reposition it slightly to relieve the tension. I can't really tell you specifics on this, because each situation is different. If the frames have been painted, you may have to use a utility knife to break the paint seal before removing them. If the screws have been painted heavily, use the knife to clean the slots or drill them off.

You might have to relocate the screws, drill new screw holes, or even shave a little off the outside of the frame to allow for repositioning. However, once this is done (assuming the frames or windows are not severely bent or damaged) the storms should function just fine!

Dear NH,

I have a 90 year old house that has no original storms or screens and only half have old aluminum storm screens installed. I haven't been able to find vinyl storms/screens that would allow me to use the top window. Since my goal is to be able to fully use the double hung windows I thought that it would be easier to just make the wood storms and screens. Or if you could point me in the right direction would be thankful. Also, do you have any plans for wood storm windows?



There is no info in Terry's book about making or repairing wooden storms or screens. Maybe his next book…

I assume that you want to have a "full length" storm and screen which you would alternate with the changing seasons. If that is indeed the case, the easiest thing to do is have a glass company make up custom aluminum-framed storms and matching screens. You can purchase special clips at most any hardware store (or even at the glazier's) that will hold them firmly in place, so you need not purchase an entire triple-track storm window assembly.

Making wood screens might be the thing to do IF you love woodworking and would thoroughly enjoy making them yourself. Or if your house was in a "historical" district... some neighborhoods have zoning rules requiring homes to meet certain requirements to retain a certain historical look. Otherwise, my first suggestion is by far the quickest, easiest and overall least expensive solution to your problem.

I don't have any plans for wood storms on hand. If I can find any I will let everyone know via the newsletter.

And should any of our readers have storm window plans, I would be glad to share them and give you a few moments of fame and glory!

Dear NH,

We live in snow country. Though the windows in our house have double-insulated glass, I would like to add a little more insulation value to some of them… particularly the ones in the den where we spend so much time. I have insulating curtains that I close in the evenings, but I don't want them closed in the daytime. Is there such as thing as "interior" storm windows?

There definitely are! There are two general types... temporary or permanent. Temporary storm window kits use flexible plastic sheets which are attached to the inside of the window frame using a special double-sided tape. Installation is easy. The plastic sheet is first trimmed so it is slightly larger than the window. The double-sided tape is applied around the window frame and the plastic is pressed onto the tape as neatly as possible. Then, a hair dryer is used to shrink the plastic to a taut, almost invisible film. Finally, the excess plastic can be cut off. These storm windows seal remarkably well provided they are installed properly and, if your budget is tight, they are an efficient and economical weather seal.

Permanent interior storms are made from rigid plastic sheets, and are attached to the inside of the window frame with special strips that allow them to be installed or removed as needed. The cost is, of course, much greater per window than the temporary kits but they can be used and reused for many years, making them a better long-term investment. Keep in mind that you must have a place to store the windows in the "off" seasons... a consideration for people who don't have lots of storage space!