Teen-age window tends to get out of line

October 11, 1997|By ROB KASPER

THERE WAS a big bang when the window fell out. Even though it was a removable window, I had a feeling this was not the way things should work. It seemed to me that an advantage of owning such a flexible window was that you could move it around to clean it at your whim. The window was not supposed to change positions on its own.

My initial reaction to the big bang and the shattered glass was I had encountered a freak of the universe, a rogue window. Like one of those rogue waves that wash away unsuspecting beachcombers, this rogue window had suddenly come crashing down. Subsequent investigations into the cause of the crash have lent little support to the rogue window theory, but I still like it.

This window was young, at least compared to most of the windows in the house. It was about 15 years old, with two panes of glass and a vinyl frame. It had replaced an old wooden, single-pane window. The old window let in air and noise. It was difficult, if not impossible, to open and close.

By contrast, the new window was a joy to live with, at least during its early years. It willingly complied with my commands. It opened easily, stayed where it was supposed to and closed tightly.

When I wanted to clean the outside glass, I simply released latches at the top of the sash. The sash would then lean toward me for easy washing. I could lift it out of the frame by freeing the bottom of the sash. Life with this window was oh-so-simple, so compliant, so trouble-free.

Then it aged, and the window developed an attitude. It started doing what it wanted to do, when it wanted to do it. It was always big -- a little over 6 feet tall and about 3 feet wide -- and it began throwing its weight around. Some days, for instance, I would walk by and notice its posture wasn't right. It was sagging. The top sash, which should have been smack against the top of the frame, had dropped down an inch, letting in cold air. When I pushed the sash back in place, it waited a minute or two, then, as I turned my back, resumed its former slouching posture.

This behavior was annoying, but I let it ride. Soon thereafter the big trouble started. The lower sash would release itself from the frame and crash, head over heels, into the house.

The first time this happened, I had the glass replaced and put the sash back in the frame. The second time it happened, I sought professional help. I took the window out to its birthplace, the Acadia window and door factory in East Baltimore. The folks there said they would try to help me with my troubled window, but warned me the root cause of the problem might be beyond them. They replaced the glass and dispatched a workman to my house, who after putting in new springs and tightening things down, told me that the sash could fall out again.

His theory was that the window frame was not properly installed. I tend to discount this explanation because, unlike many other things around the house that aren't working properly, the window frame is something I have never fooled with. I hired a carpenter, who spent a lot of time measuring, and hammering, before he put the window frame in.

It seems to me the problem has to do with age. The house is more than 100 years old and shifts around, realigning things as it pleases. Moreover, the window is entering its teens, and that can be a difficult time of life.

The window frame once had a firm grip on the sash. But those days of tight control are gone. The lower sash wobbles at will. This loose behavior lets the sash get off track. In this vulnerable condition, a wind could send an unsecured sash crashing to the floor.

For the time being, the misbehaving window sash has been "grounded," locked down and not permitted to move.

Meanwhile, I am counting on time to make things right. Who knows, the house may shift again, and maybe this time the window frame and sash will get back together. And after weathering a few storms, maybe the teen-age window will straighten out and get back on track.

Pub Date: 10/11/97

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