Q. Our double-hung window frames are still in good condition, but the windows are leaky, won't stay open and sweat. Is there any method to just upgrade the glass portion without ripping out the entire window?
A. Your window situation is not uncommon, and many of the major window manufacturers have come to your rescue. Instead of replacing the entire window, which generally requires a contractor, you can upgrade the glass in the windows with a do-it-yourself tilt-in sash replacement kit.
Since glass is the heart of any window, replacing it will greatly reduce your utility bills and window condensation. All of the sash replacement kits include tilt-in channels. These channels allow you to tilt in each window sash individually for easy cleaning from indoors.
Perfect fit: The channels are designed to fit in your old window frames perfectly, and the sashes fit snugly in them with new spring counter balances. These springs will hold the window open in any position while still allowing the sash to be moved up and down easily. They also seal very well.
The high-efficiency glass options available in the sash kits are the same ones available in other new windows. Installing low-emissivity (low-e) double-pane glass with argon gas in the gap is a reasonably priced choice for most areas of the country. It also reduces carpet fading from the sun.
If you have problems with outdoor noise, consider getting krypton gas in the gap instead of argon. It is more dense and blocks more noise and energy loss. Even without krypton, just the airtightness of the new sashes blocks noise.
Wooden framed: All of the replacement sash manufacturers use wood for the framing. It is available in natural or primed finishes to match the existing window frame color. For nearly maintenance-free windows, select a sash kit with aluminum cladding on the exterior surfaces.
The kit includes everything you need to install one in an existing window frame: two sashes, locks, tilt-in pivots, jamb liners, hardware, and an instructional video. There are literally hundreds of sizes, often in two-inch increments, so it usually is not a problem finding the proper size.
The tools you need to install a kit are a hammer, saw, putty knife, pliers and finishing nails. Pry the old sash stops loose and remove the old sashes. Tack the new jamb liner clips into place and snap the liners over them. Insert the top sash first, followed by the pivots and then the lower sash.
Another option: Another much lower cost option, although not as efficient, is to install just a jamb liner replacement kit. These new jamb liners fit tightly against the existing sashes to block leaks and hold them in position.
Q. I have been getting quotes on installing a new furnace. The prices to install a two-stage 80-percent efficient furnace are about the same as a single-stage 90-percent one. Which should I get?
A. From a heating standpoint only, installing the 90-percent-efficient model would probably result in lower heating bills.
If you are concerned about comfort and air quality, the two-stage model might be better.
The air handler portion of the furnace is usually used for the central air conditioner too. In milder climates with heavy air-conditioning loads, the blower that comes with the two-stage furnace would work better when cooling.
XWrite for Update Bulletin No. 498 which includes a buyer's guide of 11 tilt-in sash replacement and channel kit manufacturers listing frame materials, colors, glass options, features, prices and installation instructions. Please send $3 and a business-size SASE to James Dulley, The Vindicator, 6906 Royalgreen Drive, Cincinnati, Ohio 45244. For an instant download, visit James Dulley online at www.dulley.com.