Several weeks ago, we answered a question from a man who wanted to know if he could retrofit double-paned window sashes in the window openings of his older home.

Our response was, “Certainly.” We then gave him suggestions about how he might accomplish this project.

However, we neglected to take into account the increased weight of the window created by the double-paned glazing. Two readers caught our oversight and another reader related her experience with double-glazed windows.

Richard Lowry, a consulting architect from San Francisco, wrote with a solution to the problem created by the increased weight of the new windows.

“If the window sash is reglazed with insulating glazing, the completed sash may double in weight. Then the old sash weights will not be heavy enough to counterbalance the sash. That is a big bother. I know. I did it.

“However, my buddies at Ocean Glass and Sash on 17th sold me some heavier sash weights and now the windows work perfectly.”

Dave Evanchak provided us a similar solution but is not convinced that retrofitting the old windows is the way to go. He writes:

“Oh boy! You cannot replace single-glazed double-hung sash with double-glazed sash without dealing with the fact that the new sash will weigh twice as much as the old. Even if you could find bigger window weights, they will be too long to work properly.

“There is a solution but it involves using custom-made lead window weights that are about twice as heavy as the original cast iron weights.

“I think most homeowners worry far too much about losing energy through single-glazed windows. You would be far ahead of the game if you simply doubled your attic insulation or had blown-in insulation installed in your exterior walls. And you would avoid ruining the looks of a fine old home with fake-looking, ‘old-style,’ new windows.”

We agree with Dave. If the motivation is energy efficiency, the money for double-paned retrofit windows is better spent on increased insulation and weather-stripping.

Finally, Nancy Praetzel from Kentfield writes:

“Before my switch to double glazing in my south-facing windows, the sun would heat my house. I didn’t need the furnace.

“Now that I have double-paned windows, I have to use the heater. I relied on heat from the sun to warm the interior of the house, but that doesn’t happen anymore.”

We appreciate it when we get input from our readers. While it’s true that we have more than 50 years of cumulative experience in home renovation and improvement, we have learned over the years that often there is more than one way to slice the cheese. When our readers offer suggestions on the solutions we propose, we try to pass them along.


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