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.