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Boring Summer Update on Why There Have Been No Summer Updates

Timothy Bausack

Things are moving kind of slow on the house this summer. I have managed to add some more hobbies onto my already crowded hobby list. I have decided it is important to keep a good balance between working on the house and other diversions. I need to work on the balance part more though.

Sometimes I have also just been plain lazy and pushed any kind of balance out of the way. I think about all the tools I will need to drag out and how I still need to go to the store for this or that. Then it will occur to me that after doing all that I will have very little time before dark and will feel disappointed or frustrated with my lack of progress and be less apt to start it again in the future. So I just skip all that frustration by not doing anything at all. It's all rather unreasonable and I need to get myself in gear.

As far as the actual progress I have made, I have gotten every first floor window that I started working on in the fall painted with two coats. I still have some second story windows to finish but I was dragging my feet on those.

One thing that was causing friction from me really pushing ahead was the thought of having to rent a hydraulic lift for a substantial length of time to work on the upper levels of the house that are unreached by a ladder. Scaffolding can work but over 15' you have to "tie off" to something which means lag bolts going into the side of the house. I don't like the sound of that. Then it occurred to me that if I could remove my window sashes, I could do a lot of the painting and glazing from inside the house without the need for contraptions to reach things.

Enter Habitat for Humanity and Michigan Historic Preservation Network. They jointly sponsored a "Porch Preservation" workshop. A group of about 15 people met in the Grand Traverse neighborhood to look at porches in disrepair while an expert answered questions and told us what would need to be done to restore the porches. The expert was a man named Randy Klepinger who specializes in restoration carpentry and historic window repair. Long story short: I paid him come to the house on the morning of July 4th for a few hours to teach me how to perform invasive surgery on my windows.

After spending 5 hours with Randy, I'm a lot less afraid of messing around with my old windows. He showed me the "sweet spots" of where to poke and pry, places where I should be gentle, and places where I should get rough with the hammer and pry bar. It seems like the worse thing that could happen (besides accidentally hammering through a pane of glass) would be breaking a parting stop in half and having to remake one on the table saw.

He showed me how to:

  • remove the interior stops without totally ruining the paint job
  • get windows to meet in the middle again
  • pop out/cut through nails holding the weatherstripping in place
  • pry the parting stop out without breaking it in half at the meeting rail
  • gently coax a stuck upper sash down and off its weatherstripping
  • quickly remove loose window glazing
  • use a heat gun to remove stubborn glazing without cracking the glass
  • prime the sash and smooth new glaze more quickly
  • rehang window sashes on rope or chain so that they operate smoothly and quietly

He also gave me advice on fixing some plaster problems and preserving my porch columns.

I will add more to this post when I have some time to upload pictures. 

Now I have some new motivation. Spending a few hours with a window in a comfortably cool basement rather than outside on a ladder or scaffolding sweating and being eaten by mosquitoes is very appealing.

Moral of the story: get out and network with other homeowners and experts. And don't be too proud to ask for help! Leaning on Randy's lifetime of experience will help improve the quality of my life by not making the exterior restoration project get too out of hand in time and money!