Replacing Storm/Screen Windows

What You'll Need
Drop cloth or old sheet
Toothpicks or ice pick
Makeshift work surface
Cleaning cloths
Fine steel wool as needed
Sponge or foam paintbrush
Spray lubricant
Water bucket and detergent
Glass cleaner

Combination storm and screen windows are very convenient because you don't need to remove the storm or screen sash when seasons change. However, periodically it's a good idea to remove all the sashes to clean the frames and clean and lubricate the tracks. Naturally, it's also a good time to clean the storm and house windows. While neither project could be considered "fun," with a few helping hands and a properly set up work area, you can do a whole houseful of windows in a couple hours.

1. Set up Shop: There's no need to haul screens outdoors or to a workshop, but you'll want to provide a central area on each floor to work. Cover a floor area with a drop cloth and set up a card table or sawhorse/plywood work surface over the cloth. I cover the table with an old beach towel, too. It's a nice clean, padded surface for window cleaning, which is inevitably part of this task in my household.

2. Remove the Sash: Raise the house windows and remove all three sashes (screen and storm windows). To remove a sash, pull the two latches inward to lower it; and while still holding the latches tilt the bottom outward and rotate the sash a little to free the top edge from the tracks.

3. Clean Tracks: Remove any debris from the tracks and vacuum them. Then clean the tracks with a slightly damp household sponge or disposable foam brush, as shown.

  • Tip: Keep a bucket of soapy water and a second sponge to clean the exterior window sill. At the same time make sure that dirt has not blocked the small weep/vent holes at the bottom of the window. Clogged vents are easy to clear with a toothpick or ice pick inserted from the outside.

4. Clean the Sash: At your worktable, clean the metal sash frames with a damp cloth. In coastal areas and where windows are mill-finish (untreated) aluminum, you may need to use fine steel wool to remove any oxidation (corrosion caused by salt air) on the sash and tracks.

5. Lubricate: Use a spray lubricant such as WD-40 to lubricate the tracks. Dampen a very small cloth with the same lubricant and wipe down the two side edges of the sash, and don't forget to give the latches a quick squirt, too. Wipe off any drips with a dry cloth.

6. Reinstall: Reinstall the sashes by reversing the order and procedure that you used when removing them.

Written by Roy Barnhart, home improvement expert, Fairfield, CT.

Courtesy of
A commercial sales member of True Value Company