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What Are Casement Windows?

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Image of Casement Window

Casement Window - See the Problem Here?

© Lee Wallender; licensed to About.com

Summary:

Casement windows open like doors. Like doors, either the left or right side is hinged (or, more accurately, pivoted), and the non-hinged side locks securely into place with latches. Unlike a door, the casement window opens not by a knob or handle but by means of some variation of a crank.

Should You Buy?

Casements are oddballs, the red-headed stepchild of the window industry that don't quite get enough respect. When closed, they are airtight. If your wind comes from a predictable direction, you can use the opened sashes to buffet more air into your house. But casements are also notorious for breaking down, and new home buyers often turn up their nose when they see too many casements on a house.

Positives:

  • Very Weathertight: Need a window that prevents air infiltration? Unsurprisingly, the most weathertight window is a fixed window. But the second most weathertight window is a casement, followed by sliding windows (either your type or hung-style). That's because the casement's window seal meets the casement sash straight on. Sliders may be great ( have some, too), but their seal slides. For a seal to slide, there has to be some "give." And of course, this sliding seal can only wear down.
  • Screen on the Inside: This is a positive and negative (see below). If the window is 2nd story or higher, you will appreciate being able to pull out the screen from the inside.
  • Force More Air Into House: The opened sash can act as a kind of chute to help force more breeze into your house. Just make sure that the breezes don't come from the other direction, with the opened sash blocking air from reaching the opened window.

Negatives:

  • More Mechanical Parts to Get Broken: Most casement windows have some sort of crank which you turn to open and close the sash. Compared to the easy operation of a double-hung window (slide up, slide down) or a slider window (slide left, slide right), a window crank is very complex and prone to breakage. Let's not forget #2, above. The elements can affect the crank unit as well as the sash.
  • They May Conflict With Each Other: See the picture I have provided? See the problem here? A bathroom casement that won't let the bedroom casement open all the way. Or vice-versa, however you wish to look at it. Before you rush to judgment and say, "Never me" or "A good builder would foresee this problem," consider that reversing one or both casements may just conflict with another casement. The only true solution then is to have a double-hung or slider window. In which case, you no longer have your casements.
  • More Exposed to Elements: Because casements open outward, the edges are exposed to sun, rain, snow, and more. The top edge particularly is exposed and gets weatherbeaten fast. Again, it's easy to rush to judgment and promise that you will religiously close your casement windows prior to the rain, think again.
  • Screens on the Inside: Because casement windows' sashes open outward, screens must be on the inside. Do you have kids? Do you have dogs or cats who like to stand on hind legs and look out windows? If so, you can already see the problem here.
  • Sun Reflection?: Because of angle of the opened sash, they can reflect sun directly into the house.
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