What Are Storm Windows?

While many of the products we review here are readily available to purchase and operate without a license, we always recommend hiring a qualified electrician to install and demonstrate their use.

In some cases, improper use and installation may result in a breach of insurance. Even worse, you could be putting yourself or your family at risk as an incorrectly installed electrical device could start a fire. So, don’t risk it - seek the services of a fully licensed electrician instead.

Double, triple, and perhaps even quadruple glazed windows are a given for any new build, providing superior thermal and sonic insulation as well as protection from the weather, but those of us living in older builds with single-glazing and splintered wooden frames have no such luck.

Due to air leaks and thermal transfer, Ii costs us a fortune on the energy bill to keep our homes cool in summer and warm in winter.

What Are Storm Windows?

And if a storm flicked up so much as a pebble, it’s game over for that thin pane of glass, removing the only thing separating us from the wrath of the weather.

But we don’t need to sell up and buy a new build.

We need only insulate our windows, and investing in a few quality storm windows is a great way to do so, but what exactly are storm windows?

Read on and all will be revealed!

What Are Storm Windows & What Do They Do?

Storm windows are additional, supplementary windows that you can install on top of existing window fixtures.

Despite their tempestuous name, their primary duty is not to protect our windows from the fury of storms, although they do indeed help to galvanize windows when the weather gets crazy.

Their actual purpose is to inhibit airflow in and out of a building, thereby creating a much more energy-efficient household.

They keep hot air from entering the home during summer and exiting during winter, and they prevent cold air from entering during winter and exiting during summer.

In other words, they help to keep outside and inside air distinct by securing vulnerable zones in the facade of the house through which inner and outer climates may bleed into one another.

This takes a significant amount of pressure off our heating and cooling systems throughout the year, leading to some pretty hefty savings on our energy bills.

A Third Purpose

Installing quality storm windows is also a fantastic way to boost the security of a property.

Not only do they add layers to existing windows, but many actually come with reinforced screens, making forced entry much more difficult and dangerous.

There are also numerous models on the market that come with multipoint locks, which can be an effective breaking and entering deterrent

Storm Windows: A Buyer’s Guide

As there are many types of window fixtures in houses across the US, there, by necessity, has to be many different types of storm window to match.

What Are Storm Windows?


Choosing between them can be tricky, but this guide will set you on the straight and narrow.

Configuration

By far the most important aspect of storm windows is their configuration, as it’s their configuration that determines the type of primary window they pair with.

There are four in total:

Two-Track

Two-track storm windows are designed to match double-hung windows. As the name suggests, they have two tracks.

The outer track holds a half screen and an outer pane, neither of which moves.

The inner track contains a single pain that can be raised in order to let some fresh air into your home.

Triple-Track

Triple-track storm windows have the same single screen/dual-pane building blocks, but all three components get their own dedicated track, meaning each sash can move independently.

This configuration of storm window is also designed to augment double-hung fixtures, but you get more flexibility in terms of setup, i.e. wide opening to facilitate the passage of items through the window, and lowered panes/raised screen to encourage cross-ventilation.

Two-Track Slider

The only difference between two-track and two-track slider storm windows is that two-track sliders open horizontally, and as I’m sure you’ve surmised from the name, they’re meant for use with slider windows.

Basement

Composed of a single static pane secured in the frame by thumb latches (much like the backing of a picture frame), Basement is the most rudimentary storm window configuration. 

Although their primary use is reinforcing basement windows, as long as the measurements match up, they can be used on any window fixture, but they’re incredibly limited.

Easy Cleaning

Storm windows can be tough to clean properly when installed, and as they block access to your actual windows, you won’t be able to clean them unless you remove the entire supplementary layer. 

However, if the glass and screens in your storm window are removable, it makes life a whole lot easier.

As the pane in a basement storm window is only held in place by thumb latches, removable glass is a given, but this won’t be the case for any other configuration, so if you like the sound of this feature, you’ll need to seek it out.

Adjustable Ventilation Stops

Adjustable ventilation stops allow you to steady your storm window pain at various heights so you can fine-tune the amount of fresh air you let into your property.

They’re a small but handy addition that you’ll definitely be interested in if you’re looking for ultimate flexibility from your storm windows.

Low-E Glass

If you’re really looking to optimize your property’s insulation, I strongly recommend opting for storm windows with low-E glass, meaning the panes have been treated with a transparent metallic coating that reflects heat without inhibiting light transmission.

How To Measure For Storm Windows

The golden rule of measuring for storm windows is to measure every single window on your property you intend to reinforce.

Even if multiple windows look the same, there can be minor discrepancies that will have a detrimental effect on installations if they go unnoticed.

For each window, you’ll need to take six measurements:

  • Width — Measure from moulding to moulding, once at the bottom of the window, once in the middle, and once at the top. Whichever reads narrowest is the width of storm window you need. 
  • Height — Measure from sill to moulding, once to the left, once in the middle, and once to the right. Whichever reads shortest is the correct storm window height.

Final Thoughts

There you have it — Storm windows are secondary windows that we can install over the top of the windows in a building to prevent air leaks, protect against extreme weather, and add another layer of security.

If you have an older property with dated window fixtures, I highly recommend investing in some storm windows. They can be pricey up-front, but they’ll pay for themselves in energy savings over time.