Removing & Cleaning Storm Windows

Removing storm windows and cleaning storm windows can be a tricky job, especially if they are old and haven’t been removed for several years.

Types of Storm Windows

You may have wood, vinyl, or aluminum storm windows. These storm windows can be found on the interior or exterior side of an existing window.

Indoor storm windows typically have thinner glass than outdoor storms. Here are the three most common types of storm windows found:

  • Vinyl or aluminum storm windows with thin single pane glass - Held in place by plastic or metal tabs. This type is most commonly found on the interior side of the window.

  • Thicker single pane glass with a wood frame - Usually held in place by metal lever snaps or screws. Most commonly found on the exterior side of the window.

  • Single pane triple track aluminum storm windows – This type can slide open, also includes a removable screen. These are installed over double hung windows. Similar designs are also found on storm doors.

Removing Storm Windows

Tip: When removing and cleaning storm windows, you may want to label each one, this way you will know exactly where they go when you put them back on.

Whether you are removing heavy wood or light weight aluminum storm windows, you should always use safety precautions. There is always the risk of dropping the storm window or the chance of glass breaking as its being pulled off. I suggest wearing eye protection, long sleeves, and leather gloves. It is also a good idea to have an assistant helping.

Wooden framed storm windows can warp or swell causing them to become lodged in place. You may also find that the edges of the storm window frame has been painted over and will need some trimming. For these challenges you will want to have a couple of tools handy, a utility knife to score the panted surface and a flat putty knife or screwdriver used to carefully pry the edges loose.

Another thing to watch for on some of the older aluminum storm windows are loose frames. The frame will literally fall away from the glass when it is removed.

Tip: Before cleaning storm windows, inspect them for any chips or cracks. It can be very dangerous removing storm windows that have cracked glass. To prevent personal injury from chipped or cracked windows, you may want to have a professional come out to remove and replace the damaged glass for you.

It is also dangerous on a ladder, when removing and cleaning storm windows that are located outside on the second story or higher. You may want to consider hiring professional window cleaners for this task.

Sliding triple track aluminum storm windows will have to be removed from the inside. Each pane will have to be removed individually. This is accomplished by pushing to one side of the frame. There is a spring loaded track that when pushed in, will allow you to pull the storm window out.

Start by sliding the storm window open, just a crack. Press on each side of the frame to determine where the spring loaded track is and remove this peace. After the first peace has been taken out, you can remove the screen in the same manner. Be careful, on some triple track storm windows the screen is what holds the upper level in place. Sometimes when the screen is removed it could cause the upper window to come crashing down causing damage or personal injury. To avoid this from happening, have a second person hold the top section in place as the screen is removed.

After the screen has been successfully removed, slide the upper half down an inch or so, remove it the same way you did with the others.

Pay close attention to how each peace has been removed because you will have to put them back in exactly the order they came out.

Indoor single pane storm windows can easily be removed by turning the tabs that hold it in place. If the tabs are too tight to turn, sometimes you can lightly turn them with pliers or loosen the screw that holds them in with a screw driver. Take caution when turning all the tabs at once, if the storm is lose it could fall right out. Once all the tabs are turned, use a small flat screw driver to gently lift out an edge. Then take it out all the way. It is very important to be gentle when removing this type of storm. The glass is usually thin and will break with even the slightest amount of uneven pressure.

Tip: Your storm windows may not be tempered glass which means it will break into dangerous sharp jagged peaces of glass.

Also, an unnoticed scratch in a window pane will make it 100 times weaker and more likely to crack or shatter under the lightest amount of pressure. Before removing or cleaning storm windows, inspect them carefully under good light for any defects that may cause them to break.

Outdoor storm windows can be removed in the same manner as above. Usually outdoor storms have thicker glass which means they will be heavier and harder to handle. Also, storms that have old wooden frames may be more difficult to remove due to swelling or warping.

Tip: Use caution if you are dealing with outdoor storm windows that are held in place by heavy duty snaps. If the snaps are let down too hard and fast, the force can cause the glass to break.

Cleaning Storm Windows

After all the storm windows have been safely removed, it’s time for cleaning. Find a safe flat wall to lean the storms up against. When cleaning indoor storm windows place a towel underneath, this will catch the water run-off. At this time you can use regular window cleaning techniques. Tip: Do not use too much pressure while scrubbing a storm window that is leaned up against a wall. The angle can cause the glass to bow slightly and with too much pressure from scrubbing (especially with thin glass) could cause it to break.

If you are cleaning storm windows and decide to put them back on immediately, sometimes fog will develop on the inside portion of the glass. Not to worry, this fog should evaporate in a short period of time.

Storing Storm Windows

As suggested earlier, you will want to label each storm as it is removed. Select an easy accessible area that is dry and out of harms way. You can wrap each storm window with a protective material (an old bed sheet or thin drop cloth works great) to protect it from dust and cobwebs. When storing storm window make sure they are stood in an even up right manner.






Cleaning Storm Windows

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