Updated: May 14, 2020
People who "replace" their windows in a 1920's era home aren't actually replacing their windows. At most, they're addressing a mere 25% of the whole window.w.
Why is this?
Every window, historic or modern, has three vital components. They are the sash, the frame, and the mechanics. The sash is the component with the glass, the frame (largest component) holds the sash, and the mechanics tie everything together. The window replacement industry’s standard practice for a historic home is to remove the sash from the frame to insert a condensed set of sashes into your existing window assembly. What's left is a window within a window, stacked like little Russian dolls.
Why does this matter? It matters because your existing window frame makes up at least 75% of your window – and is integral to the structural fabric of your home. Know this - modern window companies don't work on the window frame itself. They switch out the sash and leave the frame alone. This means they ignore it, under the guise of "replacement." This leaves the home's entire protective envelope at catastrophic risk. (And don’t even get us started on the lifespan of the insert!)
Maybe think of it like rewiring only 25% of your home?
And leaving the other 75% knob and tube…
This illustrates the parts that make up your whole window. See the 'Top and Bottom Sash'? That's the only part that gets replaced...
Take a look at the last time we removed a client's 'replacement' windows... All the material around the replacements had rotted. We properly rebuilt the frames, so these windows will last another lifetime.
This entire assembly is a vital part of the home's overall weather resisting envelope. Window "replacement" as understood by the general public, deals with the sashes only, and the sashes account for less than 25% of the entire window.
This is a disingenuous exploitation of ignorance against both client and contractor alike, by the hands of the big window corporations. Clients want and need someone to help protect their investment, contractors want to be that person, but both are misled to believe a little non-truth that in the end serves to reward the corporate shareholder, while leaving the homeowner on the hook.
Whether a client opts to service existing sashes or replace them entirely with a modern unit, it would be more accurate to describe the window as MODIFIED or retrofitted rather than replaced, as the major component of the window remains unaddressed - the frame.
The ultimate “Bait and Switch”
The window replacement industry therefore is the epitome of the "Bait and Switch" business practice. They bait the clients with lofty and arguably empty promises, then merely "switch" a minority window component, telling the client that they have replaced, or even worse, "upgraded" the windows. The client isn't better off with this approach. The client is actually now set up to "switch" the sashes every 10-15 years, or as often as the house changes hands. Every switch weakens the window fabric to the point where the entire window WILL actually have to be replaced.
We address your window in it's entirety to protect your home.
So next time you’re looking at your windows, give them the admiration they deserve. They are protecting you from the elements. They are holding your home together. And when the time comes to address any damage that’s occurred other the last 100 years, make sure you address 100% of the window. The frame, the mechanics, and the sash. That way you can be sure your investing in your home for the next 100 years.