Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Vinyl Replacement Windows - A Basic Guide For Installation

New vinyl replacement windows can offer many energy efficient features with virtually no maintenance. A popular upgrade, homeowners can cut heating bills and enjoy smooth easy opening windows while increasing the value of their home. Once measured correctly, replacement windows can then be installed relatively quickly and easily.
Many features are available in new windows and can be purchased custom to fit your openings. Installing them requires very few tools, many of which you may already have. The list should include;
o Utility knife
o Flat bar
o Broad chisel
o Hammer
o Screw gun
o Caulk gun
o Putty knife
o Level
o Step ladder or extension ladder
o Safety glasses
A short list of materials should include;
o Shims
o Interior and exterior caulk
o Drop cloth
o Batt insulation or window and door expansion foam
Prepare a work area to remove the old windows by removing furniture and any window treatments around the old window. Be sure to lay a drop cloth or plastic down to work on, the old window sashes can be very dirty. Begin by removing the old trim around the perimeter of the window. This can be accomplished with a broad chisel or flat bar and hammer. Sometimes the trim has been caulked or painted in and it may be necessary to score the edge with a utility knife before removing. Carefully work the molding out and save the pieces for reinstallation. A common method is "walking" the trim out. Start at an edge and slowly pry a little at a time down the length of the board. With the trim removed the lower window sash can now be removed. Older windows were often fitted with a pulley and rope system. Cut the rope close to the window with your utility knife, letting the weight drop in the void. There should be enough rope to grab when you remove the pulley system later.
To remove the top sash, the parting bead, sometimes called a check stop must be removed. This stop runs between the two sashes. It can be pried out with a dull chisel or flat bar without concern, as it will be discarded. Often the bead will not come entirely out leaving some in the groove it rests in, that's fine as long as the remaining wood is flush with the jamb. Sometimes a small piece of wood is nailed under the window to keep it up in place (making it a single hung window) or there may be more counter weights (double hung). Remove either of these by prying the wood stop out with a flat bar or cut the counter weight rope as before. Care should be taken during this step as there is nothing holding the upper sash in place when stops are removed or the rope cut.
With both sashes removed, check the opening for any obstructions. The wheels that the counter weight rope rested on should be removed and discarded, along with any nails or debris. If possible, pull the weights out and stuff the void with batt insulation. Inspect the outside molding called blind stops. It should be in good shape and continue all the way around the window frame to the sill. This is what your new window will rest on to keep it from falling out. Vacuum the area and remove all the old window sashes, counter weights, parting bead and pulley system from the area, saving the inside window trim.
Unwrap the new window and put any hardware that came with the window and the expansion strip to the side. It should be noted that some units come with a header expander. This article does not include installing the header expander and if included should not be necessary if window is correctly measured and the exterior stops are continuous.
Locate the predrilled screw holes in the side jambs. Normally there are two or three per side, large windows may have holes in the top also. Cut the batt insulation to fit in the window well, approximately 1" thick and place it in the well. Making sure the window sashes are locked, lift the window and place bottom edge in the well. Then push the top of the window into place against the blind stops for a dry run. If the window is extremely tight, it may be best to not push it all the way in; it can be very difficult to take back out. This is where careful measuring pays off. Remove the window and set to the side. Generously caulk all the way around the inside surface of the blind stops. Install the window the same way as done in the dry run. Make sure the unit is centered in the opening and pressed against the blind stops. Now check for level by resting the level on the jamb not the window sash. Window sashes float in guides in the jamb and can give incorrect readings. Shims can be used for adjustments between the unit and the window opening. Use the screws that came with the unit and drive the top ones in first again check for level. Do not overdrive the screws. The lower screws can now be driven and checked for level one last time.
After screws are set, unlock the window and check the operation of the sashes. They should move easily up and down and then lock without much effort. If not, fine tune the screws and shims to adjust for correct operation. If you have tall windows, there may be adjusting posts on the sides to keep the jamb from bowing. Even if the jambs aren't bowing now, adjust these out so they can keep the jambs from moving in the future.
Window and door formulas of expansion foam are great way to fill any gaps and ensure an airtight seal. Care must be taken to lock the window when using expansion foam products and keep them locked and shut during the curing process. After 12 hours, the window can be opened and operated. Do not install trim before curing is complete as any excess foam needs to an escape route to expand. If the installer chooses batt insulation, it can be stuffed in any gaps with a putty knife. It is important not to stuff too much in, as it will bow the jambs and decrease R value.
The trim saved from the tear out phase can now be reinstalled. If new trim is chosen, it will need to be mitered and cut to size. Nail the trim tight to the new window. Caulk between the new window and trim, then between the trim and casings to provide an air tight seal. After the caulk dries, paint can be applied to complete the interior work.
The expansion strip, sometimes called a filler strip should now be cut to size and installed on the outside. This flexible vinyl strip is normally included to compensate for the pitch of the existing window sill and the lower exterior edge of the vinyl window. This strip may need to be cut with a utility knife to match the opening both in length and height. The correct sized filler can now be snapped in a groove at the bottom of the window unit. The installed strip should be tight as possible to the exterior sill and sides of the window opening.


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