I am planning to replacement my basement windows (see this related question) and was planning to remove both the glass and frame. A window vendor advised me not do this claiming that the steel frame is supporting the concrete and removing it could cause the foundation to crack. They recommended that I re-use the frame (which is in bad condition on the outside). I would prefer to remove the steel frame since in its current condition, I don't think it is able to keep the water out. I suppose I could try and repair the frame (bang it back into place, use an abrasive brush to remove rust, re-paint and caulk all seams) instead.

Is foundation cracking a realistic risk and are there any other risks in removing it to warrant keeping it instead?

Full Window

Outside 1

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    Home Depot has in-store stock of a vinyl window that would fit inside the frame as an added point for keeping the frames..
    – Steven
    Commented Sep 30, 2012 at 21:20
  • how much concrete above the windows? Your pic doesn't show Commented Sep 30, 2012 at 21:32
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    Ok, hard to say without personally looking, but do you see any diagonal cracks from the frame to the top? I am leaning to remove the frames is th concrete is solid, but if there ar flaws, then you are indeed stuck with rehabing the frames and use some sort of replacement window. Put some good pics on. Commented Sep 30, 2012 at 22:21
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    I should say, 8 inches of solid concrete should not fail if the frame is removed, assuming it verticals are solid Commented Sep 30, 2012 at 22:23
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    Even if it does fail, the house is not going to fall down. Just have to fix the upper, over window concrete wall, not that difficult. I have taken them out intentionally and replaced windows and rebuild the wall. Little mini jack hammer, a steel lentil, and fill a form with concrete. Sounds hard, but not really Commented Sep 30, 2012 at 22:25

3 Answers 3


Looking at the pictures I would say leave the steel and clean it up. The steel may be a lot tougher to remove then it looks. Might have pins into the wall or be hooked into rebar. It also looks like the steel was there when they poured the wall, making it real tough to remove. IMHO it might prove easier to cover the stuff with then remove it.

  • Agreed. Remove the window, leave the frame, de-rust it, paint it, and drop a new insert window into it. That's often the simplest answer for wooden basement-window frames too, if the frame isn't rotting out. Insert windows will cost you a bit of glass area, but they're easy.
    – keshlam
    Commented Oct 3, 2014 at 13:30

I posted a question about this a few years ago; I'll try to find it and point to it.

The right solution is to take out the metal frame (a major cutting/bending/prying effort since it's cast into the concrete), cc lean up the concrete opening, install new window framing and install the new window. Videos of this process are available from The Usual Suspects (YouTube, This Old House, etc.( and will show you how much work it entails... but it will give the best results in insulation and durability. This is what a pro would do.

The sloppy solution is to keep the metal frame and install an insert window inside it. This may cost you some glass area and be less thermally efficient, may require more maintenance, and depending on exactly what is currently installed may still require some work with reciprocating saw and/or angle grinder and chisel. But the brute-force wrecking-bar steps are avoided.

I still need to do one or the other in my own basement and haven't firmly decided which. On the backlog with umpteen other projects...


To be on the safe side, it's probably best to leave the frame up, and simply clean and waterproof it. But then again, what you should do with the window frame depends on the condition it's in. If it's serviceable and still keeps the elements out, keeping it is best.

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