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How do I take care of maintenance issues with double-hung wooden windows?

I have 50+ year-old wood, double-hung windows with some wood rot, peeling paint, mildew or mold, and general disrepair overall (interior and exterior). Could you give me the best approach to cleaning and repair?
Submitted by mcgoble

Wood windows require constant maintenance. When moisture gets into wood, it is hard to prevent mold and mildew, and then the paint peels and the wood begins to rot. If the rot goes all the way through, you should consider replacement so water doesn’t get into the walls and create other problems. If the rot is just on the surface, then there are some steps you can take to repair. The first thing to check is if the windows are pre-1978, when lead-based paint was common. If so, follow the procedures outlined in the EPA brochure Renovate Right to protect you and your family from lead dust. Once that is done, remove the sashes from the frame and take care of any of the peeling paint. Remove all of the rot to solid wood and fill with wood filler or auto body filler, then sand smooth. If the glazing compound around the glass is missing or loose, this can also be replaced. You can purchase glazing compound from the local hardware store (they have a applicator that will help you get the correct angle with the compound). If the exterior sill of the window is rotted, this can be repaired in the same fashion as described above. Then paint with a good exterior primer. Make sure when you start priming the windows that they are completely dry. Otherwise you’ll lock in the moisture and the paint will peel again real soon. If your windows are beyond repair, our slide show Choosing the Right Windows offers other alternatives.


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