Should You Buy Casement Windows?

A house with open casement windows

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When shopping for new windows for your home, typically you encounter vertically sliding windows—single-hung and double-hung—horizontally sliding windows, and fixed windows. But casement windows often are found in less trafficked areas of manufacturers' sites or in the backs of brochures. Why is this so?

Even though casement windows tend to be less popular than other types of windows, they do have a number of strong points that may make them the right choice for your home. Some of casement windows' downsides border on myth, with other downsides being surmountable if you feel that you would like to install this type of window.

What Is a Casement Window?

Casement windows are hinged on the side like a door, and they open sideways with a hand crank located on the inside of the house. The windows have optional screens, which are removable from the inside of the house.

Casement Windows vs. Other Windows

Casement windows offer a number of advantages over other types of windows, especially slider windows and double-hung windows.

Slider windows have a movable sash that slides sideways on a track. When sliders' tracks collect debris, they can become hard to open and close. Slider windows are not quiet: they open and close with a distinctive clack. By contrast, casement windows open and close quietly and have no track to collect dirt.

Double-hung or single-hung windows, with a sash that moves up and down, can be difficult to open because the sash is fighting gravity. With casement windows, there are no problems with gravity because the sash is hinged for sideways movement. Also, if the vertically-moving windows' lifting device breaks, the window will not stay open.

If you need a window that prevents air infiltration, the most weathertight window you can purchase is a fixed window. But the second most weathertight window is a casement window. Casement's window seal meets the casement sash straight on.

Casement windows will give you more air movement when you want it. The opened sash can act as a kind of chute to help force more breeze into your house.

Finally, inside screens are easier to clean. If the window is on the second story or higher, you will appreciate being able to pull out the screen from the inside.

Casement Windows: Solutions to Common Issues

Mechanical Parts That Break

Most casement windows have a crank or other type of mechanical device to help open and close the sash. Casement windows will often have problems develop with this crank: handles break, gears freeze up, become rusted, or break. Slider windows, consisting of little more than a moving sash and a latch, have even fewer mechanical parts that can potentially break.

Treat the casement windows' crank assembly as you would any other mechanical device: keep it dry; oil it if needed; and above all, do not operate vigorously.

Window Air Conditioner Units Difficult to Install

If you have conventional air conditioner window units, they will not fit in casement windows. Window A/C units fit best in double-hung windows because the sliding sash can close down to seal off the top of the window unit. But casement sashes cannot do this. Not only that, but casement window sashes also do not open far enough to allow you to install the window unit.

Though you cannot install conventional, window unit A/Cs, you can spend a bit more money and purchase a casement/slider A/C unit that is made for this space.

Casement Frames Are More Exposed to the Elements

Because casements open outward, the edges are exposed to sun, rain, snow, and other elements. The top edge of a casement window particularly is exposed and gets weatherbeaten fast.

One way to combat the harshest elements is to make sure that you quickly close the sash when it rains or snows. Even mild weather will slowly deteriorate the seals and the frame of the window.

Open Casement Sashes Can Break

Wind can catch the leading edge of casements and, with a sail-like effect, break them off entirely or damage them. This is not a highly unusual event, either, as it requires little force to catch the sashes. Casements' hinges tend to be the main victims of wind gusts.

Be aware of wind conditions in your area. If the casement windows are on the windward side of your home, they may experience damage more often than casements on the leeward side.

Sun Reflection From Open Sashes

Because of the angle of the opened sash, it can occasionally reflect sun directly into the house. This can have a piercing effect much like the reflection of car windows in a parking lot.

However, casement windows are easy to move. With a quarter-turn, you should be able to eliminate the sun reflection.

Side-By-Side Casements May Conflict

Two casement windows installed next to each other in a straight line will conflict if the swing is reversed. For example, if one window opens to the left and on that left side is another window opening right, the open sashes will conflict.

While this conflict should be an anomaly, there is a second, related problem that can happen. When two casement windows are installed in an inside corner, sashes might conflict regardless of the direction of the swing.

Homeowners do need to be aware of this when looking at casement windows in conjunction with their house. Do not depend on the window sales representative to catch this error.

If casement windows open onto a deck or sidewalk they can impede or disrupt the flow of traffic in those areas.