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Installation and Maintenance Tips for Storm Windows

Last modified: 2022-06-28 | Approximate reading time 5 mins

Cynthia Pigeon

Energy efficiency in a home is a key issue, especially during the winter months, and even more so if it is an older structure. Having effective insulation is frequently listed as the first step to reducing heating costs.

A properly insulated house creates an almost impenetrable barrier between the interior and exterior, thus minimizing any heat loss caused by air infiltration.

There are several ways to make your home as energy efficient as possible, whether it be for environmental or financial reasons. For instance, storm windows are an effective seasonal or permanent solution.

The Guide to Storm Windows

The purpose of storm windows is to create an additional barrier between your window and the outside, thereby preventing air from infiltrating your home. Rather, these are simply additional windows, frames to which glass or rigid, transparent acrylic inserts are affixed. The frames are usually made of wood or aluminum. Nowadays, aluminum frames are more commonly used for their low maintenance requirements. They can be installed on the inside or outside of your home. As a result, the air coming in from outside is retained between the window panes and the storm windows. 

Storm windows are largely beneficial when it comes to insulation as they allow for three-season spaces to be accessible in the winter, as well as reduce the noise level. It is especially convenient if you live near a boulevard or a bustling factory.

Exterior or Interior Storm Windows?

First and foremost, both interior and exterior storm windows have the capacity to help you reduce your energy costs by cutting heat loss in almost half. Exterior storm windows are often installed on ground floor windows, while interior storm windows are best installed on the upper floors of your home to facilitate installation. You have the option of permanently fixing storm windows or removing them at the end of each season. However, if you decide to remove them at the change of season, you will have to ensure that the windows are in perfect condition before each reinstallation. In addition, you will have the inconvenience of having to store them.

Exterior storm windows require you to seal the interior window to prevent moisture from seeping in and getting trapped between the panes. Skipping this step will result in early deterioration of your window frames. On the other hand, sealing will increase the durability of your basic windows by protecting them from the elements and impacts.

If the aesthetic appearance of your home is a concern, interior storm windows are ideal since exterior storm windows can potentially change the appearance of your windows. This is beneficial if your home has a rustic or even century-old feel; it would be a shame to spoil the overall look.

Although interior storm windows are usually only used during the winter months, they can prove useful all year long by keeping the cool air inside. Since they are lighter, making them easier to handle and accessible at all times, overall maintenance is much simpler. On the other hand, it is possible that you will have to alter the window covering to make way for this type of window.

There are two types of interior storm windows on the market: one with window shrink film and double-sided adhesive tape, and the other, an acrylic/Plexiglas sheet with a magnetic seal. The former is more affordable and most common in all hardware stores, however, single-use. If you want to open the window or simply remove this temporary device, you risk tearing the sheet and causing the paint to lift. The second option is the acrylic/Plexiglas sheet, which is more expensive and most likely will require a professional contractor to install it.

Looking for more information about home insulation? Check out our article Everything You Need to Know About Home Insulation.

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Installing Storm Windows

Exterior storm windows are screwed onto the window frame. They must be properly installed in order to allow the insulation around the storm window to be properly fitted and thus ensure the window's sealing. Be aware of the weep holes on the lower part of your window, they should not be obstructed!

On the upside, interior storm windows fit directly on the window frame, ensuring a better seal. They are secured with a magnetic strip alongside the window frame with screws or with double-sided adhesive tape. The storm window is fitted with a metal frame to which the magnet is attached.

One thing to note is that once installed, your window will be practically impossible to manoeuvre, thus preventing the window from being opened for ventilation purposes. After all, that is its primary purpose! You might want to consider this beforehand.

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Storm Window Maintenance

The golden rule to keeping a property in good condition is to prioritize maintenance over repairs. Short-term costs may seem high, but a lot lower than what a lack of maintenance can generate medium- to long-term. You may want to estimate your heating costs to see if installing storm windows is a good investment. Check out our article on insulation costs to guide you. 

When (re)installing storm windows for the upcoming winter season, inspect the windows thoroughly to ensure that the glass, sealant and window seal weatherstrip are still in good shape.

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Another thing to consider is whether or not to uninstall and store them in a safe place once winter is over. While some people choose to keep their storm windows during the summer months, opening them if possible, their insulating capabilities can become a hindrance, especially if they retain too much heat during the summer. 

Removing storm windows also enables you to look them over and repair them if necessary, ensuring that you can continue to use them to their fullest extent. Note that a storm window installed in a shaded area may have a beneficial effect on the room temperature in the summer, keeping the air cool inside. 

Note that over time, an aluminum frame may show signs of corrosion in the form of a rust-like powder. These deposits can be easily removed with fine steel wool.

A wooden storm window frame has to be painted properly to avoid wood deterioration. Also, ensure it is not painted with too thick a coat of paint, as each coat adds a layer that can make installing the storm window from one winter to the next more difficult.

Looking for a cost estimate for your window renovation project? Try our cost calculator!

Get 3 renovation quotes for your door and windows project can help you get quotes for your windows project. By submitting your project, we’ll put you in contact with top-rated contractors. Fill in the form on the homepage (it only takes a few minutes), and you will get estimates from trusted professionals.

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