How to fix a window

As we know, windows break all the time. Whether it’s the kids playing baseball, a party gone wild, or simply a strong wind in the night, it seems that there’s always at least one piece of glass around the house that needs repair. If it’s a newer, double-paned insulated type, it may be best to have a professional replace it.

If it’s an older, wooden framed one, though, there’s an excellent chance that you can replace it yourself.Working with large pieces of glass can be dangerous. Consider letting a professional do the job, or at the least secure an assistant to help you handle the glass. Don’t work with large pieces of glass on a windy day. Traditional glazier points are tough to work with. There is a newer kind available with “ears” that make for easier handling. Ask your glass supplier about them. By the way, the “rabbet” is the notch in the window sash that the glass fits into.

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Finally, remember that the new piece of glass should sit in the frame with about 1/16″ to spare all around (in other words, if the opening measures 6″X8″, the glass should be 5 7/8″ X 7 7/8″). This will give the frame room to expand in hot weather. If you are having the glass cut by someone else, clean out the old glass and putty first, and then take the measurement. Always wear heavy gloves when handling glass.

If the new piece of glass is large, use sections of slit hose to hold the edges of the glass. Keep a paper bag handy to place the old glass into. If there are no large holes in the broken glass, use the duct tape to cover all the cracks and hold the glass together. If there are very large pieces of glass missing, don’t cover them with tape. Rather, work them out as you remove each section of putty and points (working from top to bottom!). Starting from the top and working down, remove the old putty from the outside of the window with the hammer and chisel Remove the old points by pulling them out with the pincers or pliers.

Use the rag to brush out any putty fragments. Seal the wood of the rabbet by applying some linseed oil, so that it doesn’t absorb moisture from the putty. Create two “handles” by folding a piece of duct tape, and sticking it to the glass. Carefully pull out the old glass in one piece held together by the tape. Take some putty and roll it into four thin “ropes” (if the putty is too wet to handle well, wrap it in newspaper to absorb some moisture). Flatten the rope of putty with your fingers all around the smaller, vertical side of the rabbet. Take the new glass, and lower it onto the bottom section of the window frame, into the putty.

Then press the remaining three edges of glass into the putty, so that the putty spreads slightly and the glass adheres. Be sure to press the edges of the glass when you’re doing this. Glass has been known to crack when pressed close to the center of the pane.

Secure the new glass by tapping the new points into the rabbet with the edge of the chisel. Place the points no farther than eight inches apart. Trim any excess putty from the back of the glass with the putty knife. Apply putty all around the edge of the glass, so that it fills the rabbet.

Take the putty knife, and smooth the putty. Ideally, the putty will form a 45 degree angle between the edge of the rabbet and the glass. If the knife sticks to the putty, wet it to reduce friction. Be neat and tidy. Wait at least a week, maybe two, for the putty to dry before priming and painting it.

Use paint remover to get rid of any putty smears on the glass. Paint the putty to seal it from the weather. Let the paint seep onto the glass a little to make a tight seal. Bibliography: