Windows

This is unofficial advice given neighbor to neighbor; accuracy is not guaranteed, and any work on a unit should be done by licensed professionals with proper permissions from the building management.

South facing units get a good deal of sun.  In the summer, North facing units get a good deal of afternoon to evening sun.  Using blinds keeps the heat of the sun out.

The top floor’s arching windows are a challenge to cover.  Some residents have used corrugated plastic which can be cut with scissors; this works well for these windows.  Over time this corrugated plastic can succumb to the effects of the sun.  Placing a protective reflective contact paper on the outside surface of the corrugated plastic can prolong it’s life.

Some of the windows in the building have become blotchy or foggy which means that the seal between the two panes of glass has failed allowing moisture to enter.  Please see an explanation here.  Many people in the building have used Riverside Glass Co., Inc. to repair their windows.

—Bill J.

Periodically, there will be discussion about having the exterior of the windows professionally cleaned. This has been done building-wide once that I know of, at significant expense to the Association, and the sparkle didn’t last long so it hasn’t been considered a good use of Association funds ever since.

The Lowell Historic Board has rules banning permanent screens and colorful window coverings from marring the historic appearance of our building. Some people use little sliding screens inserted into their open windows to keep out bugs.

Our windows can be difficult to open and close. Part of it is the way they’re set back into the wall and part of it is simply the size of the window. Each sash weighs a significant amount and is not counterweighted the way windows were in days gone by. It may be possible to make them somewhat easier to operate by spraying a bit of lubricant like WD40 [I have since been told that WD40 is not the best idea: white lithium spray is recommended instead] along as much of the track as you can reach with the window open. Personally, I’m waiting for the engineer/inventor who’s going to move in someday and decide to solve the problem by developing custom jacks/winches to raise and lower our windows for us. 😉

As mentioned above, the building’s exceptionally deep window sills do not help the issue when it comes to raising and lowering windows since they reduce access and leverage. A number of people have altered their sills in various ways and/or replaced the surface of the window sill with something more attractive than the original plywood. The original window sills behind the unit walls/sills are the same stone-like sloping material that can be seen beneath each of the atrium windows.

In our unit, we had our contractor split the 2′ deep sill in half and drop the inner half a foot as allowed by the slope of the original stone sill behind it. He used pre-finished oak flooring for the new sills. This not only gave us nicer sills and easier access to the windows, but also made the room look noticeably bigger by moving back that piece of wall below the window 10.”

—Ruth E.

One thought on “Windows”

  1. We just had the glass in our windows replaced so I can offer lots more useful info. Our experience was with Riverside Glass so I can’t guarantee it applies with every company. The only thing the building management asked of us before having Riverside do the windows was to have Riverside send them insurance certificates. Owners should check with Cathy for the specific requirements in advance of any work.

    Replacing the glass involves removing the sashes, changing out the glass, and putting them back in the frames. To replace glass in the upstairs windows they need to remove the downstairs sashes first, regardless of whether or not the glass in the downstairs windows is being replaced. Because our condo is pretty crowded, the workmen put a drop cloth down outside our front door and did the actual glass replacement there where there was more room to move around.

    Once all the furniture and shades and such are out of the way—we did that part ourselves—the first thing the workmen do is take down the wooden piece that runs across the top of the downstairs windows just below the upstairs floor. This piece of wood supports the edge of the upstairs floor and needs to be there under normal circumstances; I’ve heard one tale of someone’s foot going through the plywood floor above when the support piece had been removed.

    Once that piece is down it’s possible to unlatch the top of the sash and lower it inwards. This is a pretty standard feature on modern windows so that you can clean the outside of the glass but managing it is a bit dicey on windows this size and, as mentioned before, it’s impossible to do with the much-needed support piece in the way. Swinging the top of the sash down and in is also how the workmen remove it from the frame entirely. We had counted on cleaning the panes of glass that we weren’t replacing (because the seals were still good) while the workmen were here, and we did that, but we couldn’t get the old glass as clear as we would have liked because there had been some weathering/etching over the years. Because of that the old and the new glass are a mismatch in terms of clarity but, for reasons I’ll explain below, we’re leaving it that way. Plus we expect the difference between the new and old glass to be less noticeable once the new windows start to get a bit dirty.

    While the windows were out of the frame, the workmen sprayed lubricant all along the track that the sashes slide on to make operating the windows easier. I’m told that the best lubricant for this is white lithium spray, NOT standard WD40.

    The new glass is thicker than the old glass. You can’t see the difference when it’s installed, but I’m told the old glass consisted of two panes of 1/16” thick glass (known as “single” glass) with an air pocket between them, and the new panes use 1/8” (known as “double” glass) on either side of the air pocket. This means that the new glass shuts out sound more effectively and improves insulation slightly (I’m told about 5%). And, of course, it’s also wonderfully clear and clean for the moment.

    The new glass is also twice as heavy. This pretty much balances out with the freshly lubricated tracks when it comes to ease of operation so they’re not any worse to open than what we were used to. The thing is, the old windows are now a breeze to operate compared to the way they reluctantly slid along the tracks before. Given that we’re not spring chickens and I have a dicey back, we’ve decided to leave the somewhat-streaked-but-seal-intact old windows as they are and save ourselves opening and closing the new, heavier windows. The old windows aren’t nearly as pretty to look through but the ease of ventilation is more important to us.

    We had the glass in four sashes replaced and the work took 2–3 hours. It came out to a about $320 per sash but I’m pretty sure the price per window varies according to how many are being done in your unit at a time. And prices change all the time so this is just a very rough idea of the cost. In the past Riverside Glass would try to work out discount deals with owners by doing windows in multiple units at the same time but coordinating everyone’s schedules got ridiculous so they no longer do that.

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