Double-hung sash windows are one of the most common windows in homes today. They have movable upper and lower sashes that, with the help of a simple weight and pulley system installed in the side jambs, are easily raised and lowered. Modern sash windows are made primarily of wood, aluminum and/or vinyl. The look of the multi-pane window sash is often preserved in the energy-efficient single-paned double-glazed windows by the addition of strips of wood or metal to simulate muntins, the strips that hold a window plane in place.
The first vertical sliding sash windows were used in the 17th century, when a simple weight and pulley system was added to make lifting the heavy sashes effortless. The quality of glass at the time was poor, and panes were much smaller and consequently more numerous than in today's windows. By the middle of the next century, larger panes and slimmer sash members made the six-pane sash commonplace.
Sash Window Parts
The window frame or case of the window is attached to the opening in the wall. Interior and exterior casings are decorative pieces that frame the case and enhance the appearance of the window. The upper jamb, two side jambs and the sill are inside the frame. The side jambs contain the weights and pulleys that assist in lifting the sash. Inside the jamb are the sashes, held in place by strips called "blind stops" on the inside and outside of the sash.
Each sash is composed of two vertical members called "stiles" and two horizontal members called "rails." Inside the stiles and rails of a multi-paned sash are the muntins. They separate and support the panes that are usually held in place by glazier's points and sealed with putty. Energy-efficient, double-glazed windows are often single-paned, and imitation muntins are often added for appearance.
Besides cleaning the glass and painting, the most common maintenance item for windows is replacing broken panes. This is a fairly simple job in a traditional wooden sash window, but it can require the removal of the entire sash in the case of double-glazed panes. The weight and pulley system rarely needs maintenance, but the cord that the weight is suspended from sometimes breaks or a pulley jams. Repairs to them usually require the removal of the sash.
Other Types of Windows
Fixed windows stay in place and cannot be opened. Casement windows open either outward or inward from the side and are operated by a hand crank. Awning windows are similar to casement windows except they open outward from the bottom. Hoppers are the opposite of awnings, since they open from the top. Jalousie windows have the panes arranged like Venetian blinds and allow for excellent ventilation. There are also sliding windows and rotating windows.
- Photo Credit window image by Adkok from Fotolia.com old house window image by Kathy Burns from Fotolia.com
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