Weekend Project: Swap Storms for Screens

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Don’t be tempted to leave a few windows off your list—optimum airflow (and energy efficiency) depends on all screens in their proper place.

Don’t be tempted to leave a few windows off your list—optimum airflow (and energy efficiency) depends on all screens in their proper place.

The biannual ritual of swapping out storm windows for screens (and vice versa) is essential to maximize your windows’ energy efficiency. Storms keep drafts at bay during winter, while screens let hot air escape the house in warm months. Devising a system around this project will make the task proceed smoothly. We like to work clockwise around the house, starting on the top floor.

Step 1

Organize and clean your screens. On a sunny day, take all of your screens out of storage. Line them up around your yard, leaned against the bushes, an outdoor table, or fence, and power-spray them with a garden hose. Have a scrub brush and a bucket of soapy water handy for any tough-to-clean spots. Let them dry completely in the sunshine, or wipe down with a cotton rag to speed the process.

Step 2

Pull the storm out and up to remove it from the clips.

Pull the storm out and up to remove it from the clips.

Next, unlatch all your storms and gently push them forward in the sash to loosen them. Then take out your ladder and begin removing storms one at a time. Ladder positioning is key—it should be centered in front of the window, and get you high enough to lift the storm away from the house at about a 30-degree angle, which allows you to easily remove the storm from its clips. If your storms are large (and heavy), pass them down to a strong assistant. Always follow proper ladder safety measures.

Step 3

Others slide into channels in the window frame.

Others slide into channels in the window frame.

Some screens attach with clips.

Some screens attach with clips.

To lessen the possibility of damaging storms, place them into storage as soon as you remove them from your windows—storms propped around the yard are vulnerable to gusts of wind and fast-moving children and animals. Get in the rhythm of removing the storm and installing the screen before moving on to the next window. If your screens spring-fit into channels, have a rubber mallet handy to help nudge them into position if needed. Once you’re done, pull up a chair and enjoy a tall glass of lemonade in your breezy living room.