howling aluminum windows
September 12, 2010 12:39 PM   Subscribe

How do I weatherstrip old aluminum windows?

My apartment has three old sliding aluminum windows on the third floor. We get a strong wind off the ocean, and they basically howl nonstop. They have no weatherstripping that I can see and are totally filthy. The moving sash does slide all the way into place on the far side, but at top, bottom, and center the moving sashes sit very loosely in the frames.

Everything I've been able to find online is either products with no instructions, or instructions for vertically hung wooden windows. My roommates have threatened me with death if I use plastic film. We are not aiming for a huge heat loss reduction; we will be happy if the house no longer sounds like recorded Halloween sound effects. The landlord is too flaky to deal with.

So, what do I need, and how do I use it? Can I do it without removing the sashes?
posted by moonlet to Home & Garden (3 answers total)
Best answer: It sounds like you may want to install an interior storm window. Both instructions and products can be found by searching for interior storm windows.

We have Window Savers in our house with older windows. They provide excellent sound insulation but may not be what you want in a rental unit, especially in terms of monetary investment.
posted by thatdawnperson at 12:56 PM on September 12, 2010

Best answer: There's a way to take the sliding sections out to clean them. Usually if you lift them just above the fully closed position there's the notch in the track where you can pull the bottom inward, then tilt to take the top of the section out of the track and bring it in. Do this for both sections and clean. Then, before replacing them, look at the frame and whether it's tightly attached. You might need to tighten screws, and you might need to caulk to keep air from coming through that way. Then put the window sections back. Normally, there is no weatherstripping - they should be reasonably tight in the frame. If not, the best thing would be to tape the edges without something that's going to be removable in the spring when you want to open them again. In SF, I'd go with blue painter's tape. It will last long enough to keep the wind out all winter and will pull off easily in the spring.
posted by beagle at 1:02 PM on September 12, 2010

Best answer: Go to Orchard Supply in Daly City and get some ~3/8" foam weatherstripping (the tall kind, not the flat kind). The you can take some of this and line where the sliding part meets the wall when it's closed. The aluminum in these windows usually either a) sucks; or b) is corroded, so you should scrub as much as you can stand because the weatherstripping will stick better. This may suck if you get that certain "nails on the chalkboard" feeling when scrubbing aluminum window tracks like I do. Storm windows can be nice if you never want to open the windows while they're in place, but that's pretty much it for these windows to my knowledge.
posted by rhizome at 1:21 PM on September 12, 2010

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