Author Topic: Fixing Broken Basement Windows  (Read 515 times)

BrooklineBiker

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Fixing Broken Basement Windows
« on: February 13, 2020, 06:31:02 PM »
Hi,
I have a double-layered window at ground level on our 80-year-old wooden house. (The house was gutted and fully renovated included basement windows and frames in 2012). The inside layer of the window cracked in multiple spots. A local handyman said the breaks were caused by the house settling. I'd like to replace the window but I'm concerned it will simply break again in the near term as the house continues to settle. How do people recommend I get a lasting fix to the window?

Cranky

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Re: Fixing Broken Basement Windows
« Reply #1 on: February 14, 2020, 06:05:18 AM »
Glass block?

Fishindude

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Re: Fixing Broken Basement Windows
« Reply #2 on: February 14, 2020, 07:45:14 AM »
Put in a jack post to prevent sagging, then break the area down into smaller window sections, replace window(s).
Jack post can be concealed in a mullion between window sections.

Sibley

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Re: Fixing Broken Basement Windows
« Reply #3 on: February 14, 2020, 07:54:04 AM »
Your 80-year old wooden house probably shouldn't be settling all of a sudden. Something changed. Very possibly that reno in 2012. So take a look and make sure there isn't a bigger problem. If something degraded and isn't providing sufficient support, or more likely someone did something stupid, you want to address it.

As for the repairs - do you need that window to be an egress point? Your local building code will tell you. If not, then glass block is a good option.

Fishindude

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Re: Fixing Broken Basement Windows
« Reply #4 on: February 14, 2020, 08:24:26 AM »
Your local building code will tell you. If not, then glass block is a good option.

Except you can't see through glass block, nor will you ever be able to open / close it.

Cranky

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Re: Fixing Broken Basement Windows
« Reply #5 on: February 14, 2020, 12:22:34 PM »
Do you want to see through the basement windows? Mine were small and there’s nothing to look at besides the driveway on one side and the window wells on the other end. Glass block was a great choice for my basement. I got vented windows on the two ends so I can open those if I want.

They let in plenty of light and the basement was immediately warmer after the ancient windows were replaced.

BrooklineBiker

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Re: Fixing Broken Basement Windows
« Reply #6 on: February 14, 2020, 02:38:24 PM »
Hi,
I'd like to maintain visibility outside through a clear window.
I can check the town building code as to whether it needs to permit egress. The current basement window opens but only a rodent could exit through it.

BrooklineBiker

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Re: Fixing Broken Basement Windows
« Reply #7 on: February 14, 2020, 02:52:55 PM »
Your 80-year old wooden house probably shouldn't be settling all of a sudden. Something changed. Very possibly that reno in 2012. So take a look and make sure there isn't a bigger problem. If something degraded and isn't providing sufficient support, or more likely someone did something stupid, you want to address it.

As for the repairs - do you need that window to be an egress point? Your local building code will tell you. If not, then glass block is a good option.
Who would have skills to check the cause of sagging? Structural engineer?

Sibley

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Re: Fixing Broken Basement Windows
« Reply #8 on: February 14, 2020, 06:13:12 PM »
Your 80-year old wooden house probably shouldn't be settling all of a sudden. Something changed. Very possibly that reno in 2012. So take a look and make sure there isn't a bigger problem. If something degraded and isn't providing sufficient support, or more likely someone did something stupid, you want to address it.

As for the repairs - do you need that window to be an egress point? Your local building code will tell you. If not, then glass block is a good option.
Who would have skills to check the cause of sagging? Structural engineer?

Depends what it is. If a main beam is rotted or something, it's not hard to tell as long as you can see it. An engineer, or contractor who is highly competent if you can find one (and I mean This Old House level competent, they're rare so just get an engineer).

But you can do some investigation yourself for really obvious stuff. Get in the basement/crawl space and poke around. You're looking for anything that's moved, sunk, twisted, etc. Wood that's too soft. Look up at the underside of the floor - are the joists in bad shape? Look around plumbing - sometimes stuff gets cut to make room for plumbing that shouldn't be. Is the foundation bowing? Evidence of water damage? Also look at the rest of the house. If there's a problem with the foundation, you will see things further up. Are there cracks or bowing of walls? Roof line sagging? Etc. Basically, walk around the whole house looking closely for anything that doesn't look right. Then get the expert in to look around.

Sometimes the house just wasn't built quite right. There should be a header of some sort over the window. If it's missing or damaged, that will cause problems for the window locally.

And since you want to look out, then glass block isn't a good choice. You'll need to solve the underlying problem, then you can probably replace the window with something similar to whatever's there now.

FINate

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Re: Fixing Broken Basement Windows
« Reply #9 on: February 14, 2020, 09:51:59 PM »
Your local handyman's diagnosis may be correct, but I would want to get a second opinion from an experienced professional before hiring an engineer or doing major work.

For sure, check for anything obvious that's damaged, warped, and so on.

But windows can also break due to less obvious things such as thermal stress.