The Mast-Head: Window Blues

    The house is quieter now that the storm windows have gone up, an annual task that I was able to complete on Sunday. Not that there are really all that many windows with removable storms to take care of. There are five full-size panels to put in and two screen-door inserts.
    Our house was cobbled together after my parents had a portion of it moved from Three Mile Harbor in 1960. The relatively newer part of the house has Andersen casement windows — you know, the crank-out kind, which are well beyond their useful life and in need of full replacement. The old double-hungs, the ones that were probably old even before the house was lifted up and hauled by truck to Cranberry Hole Road in Amagansett, remain in good order.
    The newest window in the house, another Andersen, which a friend and I installed only about 10 years ago, is failing, however. Its crank barely works anymore, and the exterior trim, made of that junk that passes for wood these days, is rotting in places. Garbage, really. Expensive garbage.
    Looking around the house, none of the 1960 Andersens are worth restoring. The glazing putty is cracking away, half the hand-cranks no longer crank, and their insulating properties are close to nil.
    As for the old double-hungs, they are in good working order — with no rot — even if they face the bay and north winds half the year. On Sunday, when I took them out of the basement and inspected their glazing, no repairs were needed. I spent a little time sanding the raw spots, then hitting them with primer and a coat of leftover paint. I removed the screens and brushed the sills while they were drying. That was not so on the newer part of the house, where the glazing and frames of both bay-facing and landward Andersen windows were equally beyond hope.
    To me, the difference between the old and the new is astonishing and says a lot about Americans’ willingness to put up with something less than high quality from its industry-leading manufacturers. Then again, collectively, we move around a lot, leaving behind failing windows and junky trim — someone else’s problem.