What Are Storm / Combination Windows?

by Feb 24,2023

On older homes in the Minneapolis area, storm windows, also known as combination windows, are a common exterior addition. At the most basic level, storm windows are fitted into existing frames of windows and add an additional barrier to older, single-pane windows.

Combination windows typically include two sliding panes of glass, as well as a screen, so that they can be opened to allow in breezes. Ultimately, storm windows provide a barrier against heavy rains, winds, drafts, and they’re also a cost-effective solution to improve energy efficiency.

Do you have storm windows installed on your home? If you’re not sure, this guide to combination windows will answer all the questions you might have like:

  • What are the benefits of storm windows?
  • What types of storm windows are most common?
  • What do storm / combination windows look like?
  • How do you clean combination windows?
  • What are the benefits of storm windows

Where are storm windows most commonly found?

Many newer windows have a double pane technology which allows for gas to be placed inside the panes. This allows for insulation properties for our cold Minnesota winters.

It wasn’t until the 1970’s that these double paned windows became more common for both new construction and replacement windows. Chances are that if your home was built after 1970, you will have the newer double pane (non-storm) windows.

As Minneapolis/ Saint Paul homes often date older than homes in the suburbs, these are the locations where you will generally find storm windows to be present (see map below).

Minneapolis-St. Paul_Google_Map

In addition to the age, due to the location of the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP), many homes in close proximity have storm windows as they help to reduce noise more effectively.

Types of Exterior Storm Combination Windows

Exterior Storm Combination Windows
There are several common types of combination windows that are installed on homes these days. They include two-track, triple-track, and picture-style storm windows. Both two-track and triple-track windows include a screen element, while picture windows do not contain screen/sliding elements.

  • Two Track Windows – This window includes two tracks within the frame, as well as two panes and a screen. The outer track includes a top-fastened pane of glass over a bottom screen. The second track features a second pane of glass, which can be moved up and down to allow in air and ventilation.
  • Triple Track Windows – This type of window comprises of three tracks, two with a window pane and one with a screen. Each element can move on their own track, allowing for the screen to be open at the top or bottom depending on the breeze.
  • Picture-style storm windows – This is a large single pane of glass in a frame that’s affixed over an existing window. This type of storm window does not open, and it’s generally secured to the exterior of the home.

How to Remove Storm Windows

The following video demonstrates how to remove storm windows on the most commonly found storm window in the Twin Cities area.

How Do You Clean Storm / Combination Windows?

Cleaning storm windows tends to be a more time-consuming process, because each pane and the screen must be removed. If the glass hasn’t been separated from the frame in some time, they may become tedious and difficult to remove. This results in a longer, more laborious cleaning time, which is why storm / combination windows aren’t included in Clean and Clear’s standard estimates. Typically, storm combination windows should be cleaned twice per year, and the process is fairly straightforward:

Step 1 – Remove all panes from the frame and the screen.
Step 2 – Scrape the window to remove any debris. Apply detergent to window
Step 3 – Squeegee excess detergent / water mix from the window.
Step 4 – Brush and wipe down the screen.
Step 5 – Clean the frame and wipe down tracks of the window.
Step 6 – Wipe down the window sill.
Step 7 – Replace all parts into the tracks.

What Are the Benefits of Storm Windows?

Combination windows are generally installed to improve the energy efficiency and performance of older, single pane windows. Many choose to install combination windows rather than replace all the windows on their home. This makes it a cost-effective energy-saving solution. Some of the key benefits of storm windows include:

  • UV ray reduction – Installing new secondary windows can help to reduce UV ray emittance. This protects fabric and furniture from discoloration.
  • Sound reduction – Although secondary windows don’t perform as well as noise-reduction windows, they can help to reduce street noise.
  • Energy efficiency – Old windows can be drafty and poorly insulated. Installing double-glazed windows adds an additional layer of glass, which instantly improves thermal performance. As a result, homeowners can reduce their heating and cooling bills.
  • Protecting historic features – Finally, combination windows might be installed over historic windows with ornate features, like stained glass or to preserve molding. This adds a barrier to reduce exposure to sunlight, rain, and debris.

Need help cleaning storm windows in the Minneapolis St. Paul area? Contact Clean and Clear today for a personalized quote for this service. Storm window cleaning isn’t a part of our standard window cleaning quotes, due to the extra time required to clean combination windows.




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