Steel Casement Windows

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Over the years I've been around and worked on many steel casement windows in Tudor Revival style homes as well as commercial buildings. They were popular from about 1910 to 1935. I've also seen many homeowners rip them out and replace them with inferior and less energy efficient windows. In 2005 we bought a classic Tudor Revival in Danville, Illinois that has the very best steel windows I've ever seen. Made by Hope in England they are all clear leaded glass with bronze hardware and interior roll-up screens.

 

The big issue for most homeowners with classic steel casement windows is energy efficiency. While steel is not a good insulator of heat or cold, glass is far worse. The windows in our homes are responsible for 12 to 15% of our heat loss regardless of what material the window sash is made of or the type of glass. Air infiltration is the primary culprit when it comes to energy loss and comfort.

 

When your steel windows were originally installed, they closed snugly with metal on metal. Over the years these sashes get racked and won't close properly. John Seekircher owner of Seekircher Steel Window Repair in Scarsdale, New York puts it this way, "Re-aligning a steel window is a lot like a chiropractor re-aligning you." The causes of steel window racking can be attributed to excessive layers of paint, foundation settling, broken or non-functioning handles, loose hinges and surface rust. By re-aligning the sash, removing paint and rust, repairing moving parts, installing new glazing putty and re-painting with oil paint, your windows will be look like new and stop all primary air infiltration. Caulking around the jamb, (the metal frame the casement sash is hinged to) inside and out, will take care of secondary infiltration. 

           

"All of this restoration can be completed for around 75% less than steel replacement windows," Seekircher says. Even with the high heating costs we have experienced, you can see that the pay back for replacement windows or retro-fitting double paned glass into these windows is non-existent.

 

If you really want more thermal efficiency there are a couple of options. Several years ago I ran across a study showing that 1/4" laminated safety glass, with a .060 thick laminate in the middle, approaches the R-value and U-value of double paned glass with a 5/8" air gap. It also costs less than double paned glass, has 99% UV protection, is more sound resistant, is safer, and you never have to worry about failing seals between the panes of glass. All glass shops sell this and it costs less than double paned glass.

 

Another option is a screen that discreetly rolls up and down like a window shade. These slide up and down a small track attached to the jamb and stool (interior sill). Non-yellowing, acrylic storm panels are then attached to the screen track with built-in magnetic strips. There are also several other interior storm window options.

 

Parts and restoration services are still available and I've listed the resources for you:

 

Seekircher Steel Window Repair
Parts & Total Restoration Services

423 Central Avenue
Peekskill, New York 10566

914-734-8004

www.seekirchersteelwindow.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Walsh Screen & Window, Inc.

Roll-up screens & interior storm manufacturer & distributor

Jim Walsh

555 East Third Street

Mount Vernon, New York 10553

Toll free- 866-925-7479

www.walshind.com

 

 

Hopes Windows, Inc.

Manufacturers of traditional steel casement windows.

84 Hopkins Avenue

Jamestown, New York, 14702

716-665-5124

www.hopeswindows.com

 

 

Bronze Craft

Steel window parts, custom and stock.

800-488-7747

www.bronzecraft.com

They can make it stronger if

They can make it stronger if they use the steel after die casting it. It is not like we don't have die casting companies in our country. I got my aluminum works done from this company called Pacific die casting (http://pacdiecast.com ). I didn't have to worry about the quality of the metals after they did the work for me. You should try them out too.

Great Post

Thanks, Bob for the great post. Our 70 yr old steel windows have not been touched in probably 30 years and are in real need of restoration. I just have not gotten around to it yet (and new projects are so hard to start!). Since I knew I wasn't going to have time to devote to restoration, this summer I re-sealed around all our breeziest windows (on the inside), using caulk saver tubeing for the gaps and inexpensive caulk. This made such a HUGE difference. The original caulk at the bottom of the window was failing there was no other sealing used around the window. Then we added storms. Once these babies are restored complete with weatherstripping, they will loose less heat than our walls, for sure!

By the way...I ran accross this super helpful issue of Popular Mechanics.  http://books.google.com/books?id=vtgDAAAAMBAJ&lpg=PA81&dq=popular%20mechanics%2C%20january%201950&pg=PA194#v=onepage&q=popular%20mechanics%2C%20january%201950&f=false

 

steel casement tricks

Thanks for a good article.   I've restored the 1940 vintage casements in our home as well.  They are made very well and aren't any worse for the wear given their 70 years.  I learned a trick for weather sealing:  close the window onto a bead of caulk but only after putting ultra thin, cheap packing tape over the ventilator's indoor-facing perimeter surface.  When the window closes, it "squishes" the caulk between the ventilator and the frame but the caulk won't stick to the tape.  When the caulk sets, razor away the excess and push open the window.   Peel away the tape and excess caulk.  You will now have a form-fitted gasket that won't make the window difficult to operate.   I also make my own interior storms.   Since the steel frame is already stronger than any storm window frame out there, I merely had 1/8" acrylic sheet cut to the dimensions of the interior window surfaces- one across the transom light, two flanking the ventilator and one for the ventilator.   Believe it or not, they stick to the steel frames with neodymium magnets and neither a frame nor a gasket.  You wouldn't think they would make much difference since they are virtually invisible and gasketless.  But they do!    The house still has the elegance, and our comfort level is much, much better.

Thanks again for a good article.

steel windows, non-casement

The hubs and I have purchased a small, badly neglected house in Hyde Park, Chicago circa 1880s. The ground/1st floor (over 50% above grade though it seems a basement) has a couple steel windows, not casement as they don't open, but probably an early version of security windows. Familiar with this use in modest, working-class homes?  

How should I restore them, and should they have an interior storm added in winter? They seem flush with the exterior of the house....though that has been covered in bad asphalt (we dub this the 'Tar Paper Shack') so it's hard to say what 'flush' is at this juncture.

Other windows in the basement are either wee wood with several lights (non-opening), or replacement vinyl (awful). Can I purchase replacement steel to match the older ones without breaking the bank?

thankee,

sherlock in Hyde Park