Removing the Existing Window

Removing the Existing Window

Before the Viwinco replacement window can be installed correctly, the existing window must be properly removed and a new attachment surface established.

Lead Paint Warning

Make sure to check for the presence of lead paint when removing your old windows for replacement. If your home was built prior to 1978, lead paint is probably present. Any construction debris containing lead paint is hazardous waste and should be disposed of at your local solid was facility.

To understand the hazards of lead paint and to learn what you can do to prevent exposure, click here to access the Environmental Protection Agency's website.

Proper Disposal or Recycling of Products Being Removed

Unlike glass bottles and jars, window glass is not recyclable and will not be accepted by your residential recycling program. One option is to pay for a sanitation or window-removal/replacement company to dispose of the glass. Another option: donate not only the glass, but the whole windowto an agency that can re-use or re-purpose them. Consider donating to an artist, who may be able to incorporate it into a project. Or, click here for Energy Star's donation suggestions.

Removing the Sash

For installation using the existing frame, there are two alternatives for removal of the sash, each of which is equally acceptable but requires a few different steps to be taken. One of the alternatives is for installation of the window from the inside of the home, and the other is for installation from the outside of the home. To choose between installation from inside the home or from outside the home, determine which trim is in better shape (interior or exterior) and which trim is more easily removed. The homeowner's preference should also be a deciding factor.

Either of these methods is acceptable. The differences will be identified below.

Wood Window-Sash Removal

In general, most wood windows that will be replaced are hung windows. There are, however, wood casements, awnings and sliders that will need to be removed. The following steps refer to hung windows, but removal of casements, awnings and sliders is similar.

  1. Begin by removing the interior blind stop of the window (or exterior blind stop if installing from the outside). Use a utility knife to break the paint bond between the stop and the wall or trim. Use a small pry bar to loosen the blind stop. In some cases the blind stop may need to be chiseled out.

  2. After the blind stop is removed, check for a metal sash run. Remove it by pulling the nails with a small pry bar.
  3. Carefully cut and remove any counterweight cords or ropes, if possible. After cutting, the counterweights and remaining cords should drop into the balance pockets in the jambs. Remove the lower sash from the frame, one side at a time, being careful not to break the glass.
  4. Remove the parting stops from the frame jambs and head. The parting stop is generally dadoed or grooved into the frame and is not a piece of trim. Therefore, it may have to be carefully cut out using a chisel (or reciprocating saw) or pried out with a pry bar.
  5. Lower the upper sash and carefully cut out the balance counterweight cords. Remove the upper sash by pulling out one side at a time. Be careful not to break the glass.
  6. Remove any hardware and/or pulleys attached to the frame jambs.
  7. There are usually wood panels at the sill end  of each jamb. Remove the panel fasteners and the panels to take out the counterweights.

The removal of the wood sash is now complete. Clean all debris from the frame surface with a small brush or vacuum.

Aluminum Window-Sash Removal

In general, most aluminum windows in need of replacement are slider, casement or awning windows. Aluminum hung windows are not as prevalent. Common practice for replacement of an existing aluminum window is to remove the entire window, sash and frame. In some situations it may be necessary for the frame to remain intact, thereby requiring only sash removal.

Slider window sashes can be lifted out of the frame. To remove, unlock and open the sash(es). Lift each sash up into the frame head and swing it out of the frame. If there are any frame pieces such as anti-lift blocks attached to the frame, which may block the sash from being lifted out, remove them before taking out the sash.

Aluminum casement or awning window sashes are held to the frame with a set of operating hardware. To remove a sash, disconnect and/or remove the operating hardware and take out the sash(es).

Aluminum hung window sashes must generally be removed by taking out the glass and collapsing the sash frame. It may, however, be a tilted sash, which can be tilted in and removed.

For sash units that cannot be removed by conventional methods such as those listed previously, or if the sash is a fixed sash, the sash glass will probably have to be removed first.

  1. First remove all of the existing glazing putty on the sashes with a putty or glazing knife.
  2. Using a glass-cutter, carefully score the glass in a crisscross pattern from both of the upper corners of the sash to the opposite lower corners. Cut another score line vertically from top to bottom of the lite, going through the center of the previously scored crisscross pattern.
  3. Tape the window across the score marks with masking tape (or other tape) in a random pattern.
  4. Place a tarp or drop cloth across the ground outside of the window to contain the glass debris.
  5. From inside the home, carefully break all of the glass out of the sash. Lightly tapping with the end of the glass-cutting tool should cause the glass to break at the score lines. Try to keep the glass pieces as large as possible to minimize the glass debris that will fall onto the drop cloth placed outside.
  6. Bend in the sash frame and remove the window frame.

The removal of the aluminum vent and/or fixed glass is now complete. Clean all debris from the frame surface with a small brush.

Steel Window-Sash Removal

Steel Windows are generally casement, awning, slider, or fixed styles. A common practice for replacement of an existing steel window is to remove the entire window, sash and frame. Sash removal only can be done, but with some difficulty.

Detach the operator arm and hinge of each casement vent from the frame by removing the fasteners, clips or screws. In some cases, it may be necessary to remove the vent from the operating hardware prior to removing the hardware from the frame because the vent may obstruct access to the hardware fasteners. Once you’ve found the fasteners, screws, etc., the surface or head may be embedded in putty. In this case you can scrape away the putty with a putty knife or cold chisel. If after the putty is removed the fastener still cannot be taken out, drill through the fastener to remove it.

If fasteners or screws cannot be removed, the entire operator assembly will need to be cut out to remove the casement vent. In this case, be sure to remove as much of the assembly as possible so that there is no obstruction projecting from the frame surface (the entire frame surface that the new window will seat against must be flush).

Remove all of the remaining glass from the frame, if necessary.

  1. First remove all of the existing glazing putty with a putty or glazing knife.
  2. Using a glass-cutter, carefully score the glass in a crisscross pattern from both of the upper corners of the sash to the opposite lower corners. Cut another score line vertically from top to bottom of the lite going through the center of the previously scored crisscross pattern.
  3. Tape the window across the score marks with masking tape (or another tape) in a random pattern.
  4. Place a tarp or drop cloth across the ground outside of the window to contain the glass debris.
  5. From inside the home, carefully break all of the glass out of the sash. Lightly tapping with the end of the glass-cutting tool should cause the glass to break at the score lines. Try to keep the glass pieces as large as possible to minimize the glass debris that will fall on to the drop cloth placed outside.

The removal of the steel vent and/or fixed glass is now complete. Clean all debris from the frame surface with a small brush.