Buying and replacing casement windows

July 28, 2015

Casement windows are door-like windows that may be the style for you and may save you energy costs. With the right maintenance they can last a long time. 

Buying and replacing casement windows

What are casement windows?

  • Casement windows operate like doors, swinging open, rather than up and down or side to side.
  • Constant use can wear down a casement window's opening mechanisms, but you can prevent this — and make sure that your casement windows have a long life — by lubricating the mechanisms as soon as you notice that the cranks are growing stiff.
  • As is true of any windows, replacing these windows is expensive, but newer models will at least save you a bundle on energy costs.

Getting cranky

  • If a casement window's crank is not moving as easily as it once did, the opening mechanism probably needs attention.
  • Loosen the set screw at the base of the crank handle and remove the handle; then pop off the operator cover. Give a shot of silicone spray to any visible gears and all pivot points, including those on the guide arm. If you don't see any gears, it means the gears have been permanently encased and lubricated; just spray the pivot points.
  • Reassemble the operator components, and your casement window will come back swinging.
  • Be sure to close casement windows during inclement weather to keep the operator block and crank handle away from harmful, corrosive moisture.
  • Today's "smart" windows not only match the good looks of your originals but can help pay for themselves by keeping heating and cooling dollars in your pocket.

Here are buying points to consider

  • Match the original window, then go one better. Replace existing windows with new units of the same configuration (double-hung with double-hung, casement with casement), and look into features that make them easier to clean (such as tilt-in sashes) and more securely locking.
  • Choose a frame that's a good balance of care and cost. Contemporary manufacturers offer a range of framing materials, including wood, vinyl- or aluminum-clad, and all-vinyl. Wood looks great but is high maintenance. All-vinyl is very energy efficient, low maintenance, and lowest in cost but can crack or warp from extreme cold or hot weather.
  • Choose an energy-saving glass. Double-glazed windows will give you maximum energy savings. Non-toxic, odourless, colourless gases such as krypton and argon are set between double panes for extra insulation, and coatings on "low-E" glass reflect infrared light to keep heat outside during summer and inside during cooler weather.
  • Know your U-factor. Look for the Canadian Energy Rating (ER) System sticker, which rates the window's energy.

Easy adjustments

  • Use carbon paper to figure out where a window sticks. Weather conditions, overzealous applications of insulation, and the natural settling of a house can all lead to swelling and sticking in wooden casement windows. Pinpoint problem spots by slipping a piece of carbon paper between the sash and the frame in different places around the window's perimeter, opening and closing the window as you go; binding points will be revealed with carbon marks on the sash side.
  •  If your crank is loose or just not turning smoothly, try tightening the set screw near the handle's base. If that doesn't do the trick, loosen the set screw, pull the handle off, and check the teeth inside it. If they are rounded, replace the handle. Finding an exact handle match can be a problem, but you can get a generic replacement kit that offers enough shaft adapters to accommodate a range of casement mechanisms.
  • Window blinds tend to catch on (and are sometimes damaged by) the standard long crank handle on casement window operators. Replace the handle with a more blind-friendly T-handle.
  • The third basic window type has side-mounted sashes that are opened from the inside by an operator block and its crank handle.
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