How to Replace Old Weighted Windows
LESLIE: Daniel in Washington is in love with his older home’s windows but needs some help working on them. What can we do for you?
DANIEL: I want to know how I can remove them without destroying them or having to cut off the weights and letting them fall in the wall, as I was told that’s what I have to do.
TOM: Well, why do you want to preserve the weights, Dan?
DANIEL: Well, I just – my biggest fear is they’re upstairs windows and I don’t want them to cause any damage when I cut them loose. And I just want to pull them out intact, I guess, for seeing what exactly they are. They’re being used for weights.
TOM: Yeah, you don’t have to worry too much about that. How old is your house, Dan?
DANIEL: It was built in 1900.
TOM: OK. So, the weights themselves are these sort of round, tubular pieces of solid cast metal. And I wouldn’t worry about letting them drop. They’re only going to drop to sort of the bottom of the wall cavity. They’re not really going to do any damage. They’ll drop down a couple of feet and stop. But what you do is cut those cords or disconnect the chains, let the weights drop, pull out the pulleys, take out the upper and the lower sash and then you insert the replacement window into the rest of the wood sort of old window frame that’s left.
That’s the smart move because it’s very easy to do. You don’t have to tear up any siding or anything like that. You basically just take apart the operable sashes and slip the new replacement windows inside, which you can do because all replacement windows are basically built to fit. That’s the way the technology is designed to work. If you put in an order for replacement windows, they put all the numbers into a computer and it spits out the window at the other end of the assembly line. And you just slip them in and you’re done. It’s a very easy installation.
You need to be really careful in the measuring, though. And I would have the company that you’re buying the windows from do the measuring to make sure you get it right. But not to worry about the weights. Not a big deal.
DANIEL: And it’s funny you mention that. He actually did come out and look at them and he told me that he wouldn’t be able to give me the measurements to get the windows myself. Because when he – they order them, the guys that install them have to do any work that’s needed to make them fit properly, because he just takes a rough measurement.
TOM: So was he just giving you an estimate? Was he there to measure for an estimate?
TOM: Yeah. Well, I mean that makes sense. Plus, I’ve got to tell you, every company does it a little bit different. So if you buy it from Manufacturer A, they may measure one way and Manufacturer B might measure it slightly differently. So whoever you buy these from, they have to do the exact measurements. He may have just been measuring so he knows how to price the order but it may have to be measured again before you actually do the order.
LESLIE: Plus, they’re – the numbers are really guarded. He might be thinking that if he gives you the exact measurements, you’re going to turn around and go to another company or order them yourself and try to do it yourself.
TOM: Which you really couldn’t do because what if he has the numbers wrong? You’ll end up paying for windows that don’t fit.
DANIEL: So if we already did – I measured the frame on the windows, not the window itself. And we did just put the order in. So I could be in trouble here.
TOM: Are you going to put them in yourself?
DANIEL: Yeah. Because it’s – half the cost of the windows was the labor to put them in.
TOM: Well, how did you know how to measure them? Did you get advice from who you bought the windows from?
DANIEL: Yeah. He told me to measure the frame – not the window, not the part of the window that moves – but he said the frame itself.
DANIEL: And he said that’s the number that they would use if they sent somebody out.
DANIEL: And then he offered, because it was free, and when – to send somebody out. And when the guy showed up, he did the kind of – “Whoa, hold on. I just kind of give them rough numbers and they do what they need to do to make them fit from there.”
TOM: What I would do, if I were normally ordering windows, is I would get the advice on how exactly they need to be ordered. I would make – take the measurements and order them to fit. You know, if that’s what you did and you followed their instructions, you should be OK. The thing is, if you’ve got it wrong, you’re going to get a window that doesn’t fit and you’re going to have a problem. But as long as you followed their instructions, then you should be OK.
DANIEL: Alright. It just kind of made me worry when the guy that showed up here gave me a different story than the guy down at the store.
TOM: Yep. Yeah, well, they’re all experts; they all have their way.
LESLIE: And clearly they’re not talking to each other.
DANIEL: Yeah. Like I said, that was the part that scared me and why I wanted to get some advice on this.
TOM: Alright. Well, I hope that helps you out, Daniel. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.