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Question DetailsAsked on 9/23/2015

I live in a 1920's home and many of the windows seem sealed shut, should I have them replaced with vinyl windows?

The reason for my question is two-fold. First, I'm not sure if it will lower or raise the resell value of the home, by replacing something original. Second, it's hard to find someone that can replace the old windows properly. The bids I'm getting to repair the original windows are all over the place ranging from $200 per window to $550 per window. I personally would prefer vinyl windows because they "work" better, but I don't want to destroy the value of the house, because we want to sell in 5 years.

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2 Answers

Voted Best Answer

Your favorite Realtor would be the best person to talkk to about values - but unless this is a historic home, I doubt new windows would decrease the value. Also, how much (assuming you can unstick the existing windows) new windows would add to the house. A nicely maintained or higher-end home new windows might compliment and plush you into prime pricing range, but on an older house that might not come anywhere near to paying off for you. That is because on an older or generally run-down house, the lookers you are getting are likely either going for bottom dollar - either because of financial limitations or because they are buying it to flip or as a fixer-upper, as a tear-down - so new windows might not fit their needs at all, and will not bring a top-dollar buyer to an otherwise not prime property.

You say sealed shut - unless someone caulked them shut in the tracks (almost impossible to fix), it might be that they were just painted shut and a few hours by a handyman with a few straight razor bladses and thin putty knife would open them up. Course, if they are stuck because the house has shifted so they are jamming - different story. Then they have to be at least cut free and commonly removed and re-trued in the opening during reinstallation, possibly with some rough opening size adjustments too if severe settlement or house tilting.

That is probably why you are getting such a wide range on estimates - the contractor assumptions of what the "worst case" is probably varies quite a bit. Note, for normal sized windows, the higher end is getting into total window replacement cost range, so unless these windows are truly valuable as is, don't spend the majority of new window cost on fixing them when for a bit more you might get totally new, much higher thermal efficiency windows.

Answered 4 years ago by LCD


This is a great answer. I think it's the worst case scenerio unfortunately. They don't look painted over at all. They just won't open. They have the little pullys and ropes in the frame... it's that of window. I gently took a pry bar to them when we moved in applying constant pressure, but I didn't want to overdo it and break the window so I just accepted my fate. I'm thinking if I do the windows in the kitchen and living room where we really want to be able to open that might be enough. I might have to do a window every month due to budget and just plug away at it.

Answered 4 years ago by dgazaway


Bad news - and unless you really pry on one hard to see WHY it is not opening (adhesive, caulk, jammed in frame, nailed or screwed in, etc) you will not know what the problem is - assuming it is the same on all.

BTW - replacing one at a time (unless DIY) will probably increase your unit window cost by probably about 50% or so, because you lose the bulk purchase economy of doing all windows at one time and thje contractor has to put his prep and purchasing time and such cost into one window rather than say 10-20 at a time.

I personally (being prepared to temporarily seal off the window if it breaks) would masking tape the window (tape in an X across the glass, then tape a couple of thickness of newspaper over it on both sides) so glass does not go all over if it breaks, and try to force open the least visible one with a pair of prybars prying on wood blocks (to avoid crushing the window frame) - one under each edge of the sash. If a double-hung window (both top and bottom sashes move) I would start with a top sash - easier to pop loose in many cases. Even though yuou say not painted shut, it is still possible that paint ran down into the track and jammed them in the past - or that someone who did not know better (as very commonly happens) painted the track or contacting surfaces of the window, causing the paint to stick the sash to the frame. Use thin putty knife and single edged razor blade to try to run all around the edges of the window where you can access it, to cut through any paint seal wherever possible. It is likely with older windows that you will be able to pop off a stop strip on one side of the window sash or the other (perhaps one inside, one outside for the two sashes respectively) to open up the gap around the window sash and let you cut through whatever is holding it closed. Just be aware you may destroyo a sash doing this, so it may commit you to replacing that window (or at least the sash unit). Then I would use a spray can with plastic applicator tube to spray teflon spray into the tracks alongside the sash to try to lubricate the track and break the bond between sash and track.

Before doing that however, I would carefully look all around the window and especially the sash track area, and if nothing is visible (inside or out) get a roughly $10 electromagnetic stud/nail finder (the type that find nails and pipes in the wall by electromagnetic field, NOT the sonic type) and run it around the frame and in from the inside or outside for toenailed fasteaners, to see if there are nails or screws holding the windows from moving - someone may have nailed or screwed the windows shut for security reasons. Commonly people do this to prevent the sashes from being opened more than a few inches, but sometimes they nail/screw them totally shut - using stop screws in the track itself, toenailing the sash to the track, or using finish nails driven through the frame from inside or outside into the sash.

Oh - one other thing - check there are not a couple of metal-lined holes in the sashes - some older windows had a simple circular key-locked mechanism to lock the windows, accessible through about 1/2" metal lined holes in the sash near the sides, or sometimes locking the top of the bottom sash to the bottom of the top sash. Or some other type of locking mechanism that might have been installed at some point - swivel, latch, pin, bolt, etc types. In occasional cases they are mounted in the window frame OUTSIDE the track area, not in the sashes themselves, and act like a deadbolt or safety bolt to drive a bolt through the frame into the sash to prevent it being opened. Again, may be a manual lever to operate, or a concealed (usually brass-lined) hole that takes a round key to turn the lock to open or lock it.

Answered 4 years ago by LCD

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