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I have a 30 year old house in Chicago. We have original double pane wood windows. The interior portions are in good condition. No rotting and all the seals are good and there is NO fogging between the panes.

The issue I have is the sills and brick molding outside are rotting. We also have original Storm windows in wood frames, single pane, and the frames of the storm windows are rotting.

I plan to sell the house in 5 years. I was thinking to replace the entire windows, but that gets very costly. Would it be better to just replace the sills and brick molding? Will I be able to find replacements storm windows for the sizes I need?

I should mention that either course I would probably do the work myself. I am a fairly handy guy. I have built a shed, finished my basement, replaced a asphalt shingle roof, stuff like that.

Some advice here would be great, thank you

  • Hey, shouldn't you have posted this to stackoverflow.com? :-P – einpoklum - reinstate Monica May 10 at 20:50
  • I replaced several pieces of exterior sill and molding on the windows of our 42-year-old house in Minnesota. Did not do it everywhere, but piecemeal here and there, using a MultiMaster to cleanly cut out sections to be replaced. Then glued the replacement pieces in place using one of those gloppy exterior glues. Replaced several sashes, as they were Andersen and it's easy to get exact replacements. – Hot Licks May 10 at 22:37
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If your timeframe is inside 5 years, you probably can't make an economic argument for new windows.

Suggest you attack one (neither the worst nor the best) and see what is in there when you pick away at it. New storms are easy. Brick mould is easy. The sill might be a little harder, but patience is a virtue.

Depending on the level of rot, don't immediately rule out bondo and/or capping the sill in aluminum.

If you don't have one already, get an oscillating tool. It'll pay for itself in this kind of work. Battery powered is vastly better than corded in my opinion.

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    Bondo isn't the right thing for patching wood. It's too hard. There are specialized products that are made for exterior wood patching. – JimmyJames May 10 at 18:58
  • Agree with @JimmyJames that bondo isn't the universal solution. It has its place, and if you excavate, back cut aggressively and partly sink a few screws for it to tie into, you'll have a better result. – Aloysius Defenestrate May 10 at 22:05
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    Wood fill, not Bondo, and first you need to apply chemicals to treat/stop the rot. – R.. May 10 at 23:42
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I just bought a 1940's home with original windows and some termite damage on the frames. We decided to replace the windows due to that damage. While original wood windows a very sturdy, by replacing them with decent Anderson windows, we will have better insulation and no issues with breaking pulley systems. Basically, for 12 windows it was about $3700 with us doing the labor. Not terribly expensive, but a good starting point for your project unless you have many more windows. Also, if you have rudimentary knowledge of repair work, its not too difficult to change out windows.

  • I am envious of your window count. I am in the same situation with a 1940 house with about 30 windows... – MonkeyZeus May 10 at 18:45
  • Window count and window size can drive this cost way up. What window did you settle on? And what size were they? – Kris May 11 at 18:14
  • Anderson 100 series single hung. 3'x4' for the most part. one or two smaller ones in kitchen. – Grant Weller May 13 at 13:09

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