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Installing Replacement Windows Part 2 of 3

Rather than paying money to get my windows delivered, I rented a truck for $20 and got them myself. Looking back, however, I definitely recommend paying $60-65 to get them delivered to save time and ultimately, money.

Step 4 – Check your replacement windows

Being that these windows are mass-produced, it’s only natural that some replacement windows will have defects. So it’s important to discover any defects BEFORE removing old windows!

Lowes-Pella-ThermaStar-Replacement-WindowsMost vinyl replacement windows come shrink-wrapped with a clear warning: “Do not remove shrink wrap until installation day to reduce warping”.

Taking this warning into consideration, I checked my windows by:

1. Placing the window flat on a solid surface

2. Making small incisions near the window locking mechanisms to check window alignment (unlock, move both windows up and down and re-lock);

3. Examining that the screen (if you ordered them) is not ripped anywhere;

4. Checking all four corners to make sure that they are square (use a framing square);

5. Confirming that for all parts (e.g. sill angle adapter, header expander, screws, etc.) are included in the packaging.

When the examination was completed, I stored them in my garage, out of direct sunlight and rain until I was ready to begin the installation.

Step 5 – Removing old windows

First of all, please note that there are several ways of removing an old window. Because I was working by myself, the removal method described in this section worked best for me.

In addition, I decided to replace one window at a time to ensure that I would not have any window openings unfinished overnight. (read this section for a good laugh!).

All these steps may seem complicated, but trust me, once you remove a window or two, the entire removal process becomes easier and will go quickly:

  1. Remove both storm windows and the screen (but not the frame just yet)
  2. Remove interior stops (a.k.a. quarter round moldings)
  3. Remove the bottom sash;
  4. Remove the top sash and metal tracks;
  5. Clear all debris and nails around the window opening perimeter.

My first ever window removal took over an hour because I simply did not know how everything was attached. Now, however, I can remove one of these windows in 3 minutes flat. If I can do it, you can do it too!

Step 5.1 – Removing both storm windows + storm window screen

old-window-replace-screensFirst, raise up the bottom interior sash (window) to get it out of the way. Then, lower, tilt and remove the bottom storm window while squeezing the clips together. Using the same technique, remove the top storm window followed by storm screen. Now wasn’t that easy?

By the way, you can recycle most, if not all, of these storm window components. You can list them in your local FreeCycle forum or contact a local scrap yard. Please do your part to save the environment and recycle as much as you can!

Step 5.2 – Removing interior stop moldings

Same exact process as outlined in step 3.1.

Step 5.3 – Removing the old interior bottom sash (window)

Flatten_old_window_metal_tabTIP: IT’S VERY IMPORTANT to some sort of eye protection and a pair of heavy duty work gloves when working this part of the project! Trust me, I learned my lesson the hard way (note I am not wearing any gloves in the picture to right; I ended up cutting my fingers this way!)

First, use a hammer or simply your thumbs to flatten out the entire metal track “tabs” (see picture) from top to bottom. Do this for both sides. This step allows the bottom sash to come off the tracks easily.

Next, grab the bottom sash and lower gently, at the same time gradually pulling out the bottom section. Do not completely remove the window just yet.


While the top part of the sash is still attached to the window opening, locate the tension springs (one on each side). Working one side at a time, carefully unhook the bottom spring attachment and slowly let it retract up to the point where the spring enters into the metal side track and let it go.


This “hook” is rather sharp and can retract rather quickly so that’s wearing a thick gloves is highly suggested.

TIP: If you have a helper, you can remove the entire window and tracks in one shot. Just lower both windows to the middle part of a window opening, and have your helper carefully detach staples holding down the metal tracks; then while holding onto both windows in the middle position, you can gently remove the window and tracks together. Keep in mind that windows in position has springs extended so be careful when setting them down.

Step 5.4 – Removing the old top sash (window) + side tracks

Ok, we are almost there! After removing the bottom sash, remaining top sash and metal side tracks will go quickly!remove_window_sash_tracks

First, push up the top window. Then, using a flat-headed craw bar, detach staples from metal side tracks. In order to “clear” the stool, bend the bottom sections of side metal tracks towards the middle (picture on the left).

  1. While pushing down the top sash, gently pull out the bottom section. This will pull off the side metal tracks off the side jambs. Before removing the entire assembly, work one side at a time to unhook the springs.


Step 5.5 – Clearing debris and nails

Now that the entire window assembly has been removed, the only remaining parts are to:

  1. Inspect and repair any rots;
  2. Remove any nails and/or debris from the window opening perimeter;
  3. Test fit the new replacement window;
  4. Remove the top blind stop;
  5. Remove the storm window frame.

trial_fit_new_windowCarefully examine side jambs, top jamb and the window sill to check for any signs of rot. At the same time, look for any protruding nails or staples and removed and/or flatten them (if you discover any rots, check here)

Then, use the putty knife to scrape off any old paint flakes that are sticking out as well. Believe it or not, some of these cruddy paint debris can actually mess with the level/plumb accuracy.

Next, take one more measurement from the side jamb to side jamb and compare it against the window’s width measurement. This step ensurea that the window will be a perfect fit.

Afterwards, remove the shrink wrap from one of the windows (leaving out the screen, header expander and sill adapter) for a trial fit. Leave the top and bottom sashes locked in for this trial fit to reduce any chances that the window frame will flex/warp. Yes, trial fitting the entire window is heavy with these two sashes in place, but it’s worth the trouble. In my case, I did not need the header expander because of my accurate measurements.

remove-top-blind-stopNow that the window fit is confirmed, I set aside the new replacement window and continued on with the task of removing the top blind stop and the exterior storm window metal frame.

To remove the top blind stop, use a pair of large pliers to grab and simply pull from one side. It should come off with relative ease. Set it aside this piece will not be needed for the replacement window setup. Since this piece will not be re-used, I wasn’t as concerned about possibly breaking it.

remove-storm-window-frameFinally, remove the exterior storm window frame. Each side has approximately 2 short Phillips screws attaching the metal frame to the exterior blind stops. Screw heads most likely will be covered in caulking and/or paint so try to remove some of these materials before attempting to remove the screws. Without some cleaning of the screw heads, you increase the chance of stripping them, creating more work.

Once the screws are removed, carefully nudge the frame off. Do not use excessive force due to the fact that there most likely will be some caulking between the storm window frame and exterior blind stops. You do not want to break these blind stops so take the time! For stubborn areas, use a sharp knife to cut away the caulking.

Afterwards, take a small brush and remove any particles/debris.

Now we are ready to install the new replacement window!

Go to Installing Replacement Windows: Part 3 of 3

Installing Replacement Windows Part 1 of 3

Sunday 12th of February 2012

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