No matter how clean your house may be, with the proper conditions, mold will grow. It's unsightly; it smells and will adversely affect your health. No matter how much you clean and kill those spores, they will return until you eliminate the environment in which they thrive - moisture.
The bathroom in our master bedroom had a double hung wood window that was part of the original construction - making it over 40 years old. I knew its days were numbered, but we have many others in more dire need of replacement. I'm also in the middle of a basement renovation, so I'm not thinking about starting another new project - that is, until Dawn said I am. I guess it got to be too much for her, after thoroughly cleaning the bathroom only to still smell a musty mold aroma.
Now, I don't want to come across as a sexist here, but my experience has proven (at least to me) that women seem to have a sharper sense of smell than men. Yes, I do have other evidence to support this claim. Many years ago, I was involved with a project to replace a roof on a school in NY City. The principal - a man - was receiving complaints from many of the teachers - women- of a bad odor, roof tar. The principal and I walked the halls and stuck our noses into classrooms - we smelled nothing. Seeing the obvious, he suggested having the assistant principal - a woman - join us. As the three of us investigated the illusive odor the assistant principal suddenly stopped in her tracks and proclaimed "Here! I smell it here - right behind my eyes." The principal and I just looked at each other - not a word did we speak - we were way out numbered. So, if Dawn says there's an odor in the bathroom - there's an odor in the bathroom! The window goes!
In order to replace an existing window, you need to measure the rough opening - not the window or the outside of the molding. This will require you to remove the molding around the perimeter of the window. Take care in doing this. If caulking was placed around the molding where it meets the wall or if paint has built up, it will need to be cut with a utility knife. If you don't score this properly, the paint on the molding will pull the paint and possibly the paper backing right off the sheetrock wall. Next, protect the wall from your tool. Removing the molding will require a prying tool. You will punch a hole right through the wall if you pry against it. A scrap piece of wood works well here.
After removing all the moldings, you should see insulation surrounding the window - I saw daylight and an abandoned bee's nest! The small amount of insulation I did find was doing nothing. Now I see why we had an odor in this bathroom, no caulking outside the window to prevent moisture from entering and insulation missing. The result was a wood window that was constantly wet - a virtual breeding ground for mold.
The first thing I did in this room, after we moved in 4 years ago, was install a bath exhaust fan. After a shower, the condensation would cover every surface. The fan worked well but not for the window for reasons that are now apparent. With the moldings off and insulation discarded, measure the distance between the 2x4 wall studs on either side of the window - inside to inside. Do the same top to bottom - this is the rough opening. You'll need these measurements to buy the replacement window. For example; the rough opening of my window was 26.5" x 41". The window I bought required a rough opening of 25" x 38". I had to add some lumber to one side and both the top and bottom to reduce the opening size. Try not to buy a window that is bigger than your rough opening - that will require a few more steps.
Most windows will come with instructions on the proper install and tools required. Removing the old window is pretty easy. Mine was nailed from the outside, so a few taps on each corner with my hammer and out she went. Replacement of a window takes some basic carpentry skills so I wouldn't recommend attempting it as your first home improvement project. This is a project for two, so maybe you can find a friend or neighbor who's done it before. As for cost to have a contractor install, you can simply double the material costs. If one window costs $200, a carpenter will charge between $200 - $250 to install the one window. My house has over 20 windows, so I'll be putting that $4000 - $5000 back in my pocket - or towards Dawn's new kitchen.
At the end of the day, after everything was cleaned up and my tools away Dawn came out of the bathroom with a big smile - "I don't smell anything!"
Coming soon: Finishing the casement molding around the new window or I’ve got a miter saw and I’m not afraid to use it!
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