Removing Aluminum Window Frames

Whether you’re removing aluminum window frames to replace them with more energy efficient double-pane units, or just to smarten up the appearance of the outside of your property; there’s absolutely no reason at all why you shouldn’t do the job yourself. Even if you’re not an experienced DIY home enthusiast who’s going to install the new windows yourself, there’s no need to let the company that is fitting the new window frames take your old aluminum ones away.

By removing the aluminum windows yourself you will of course have to dispose of them. It might be that you know someone or a neighborhood project that could use them, but whatever you do don’t just dump them. With the price of even scrap metal soaring, take them down to a local metal dealer and see how many dollars you can get for them.

Types of Aluminum Window Frame

Aluminum window frames come in all shapes and sizes. However, they will usually conform to one of the following three designs: pivot, awning and casements. Of these three types the casement window is by far the commonest.

A casement window is typically divided in two. Either side of the divide their could be any combination of: fixed window panes that do not open, window panes that open occupying a complete half of the window frame and open sideways or a half of the frame that is split into two sections; one part of which is a fixed non-opening pane and another smaller vertically opening window pane.

The technical terms used are - side-hung casements, top-hung casements and non-opening casements. Dividing the window is a mullion, the sides of the frame are jambs, whilst the top and bottom are the head and rail respectively.

Before Removing

A couple of rules before starting to remove an old window frame. First, don’t remove it until the new /replacement one is on-site.

Secondly, dependant on the size of the window frame and the construction of your property, it might be a good idea to have some adjustable support rods and a length of sturdy timber available. The reason for these two points is to avoid putting undue strain on the lintel whilst changing the frame.

Also, check the new frame for any damage and measure it up once more to check its OK. You don’t want to take the old one out and be left with a great big hole whilst you wait for a replacement to arrive if anything is wrong with it!

Removal Steps

Whilst the frame is still in place remove the glass from the casements. Dependant on the construction of your window frame you might be able to unscrew any opening casements without breaking the glass.

At least for fixed pane casements you will need to break the glass. Wear protective gloves and goggles for this job; place strips of masking tape over the pane and then, if possible, break them outwards with a hammer onto a dust sheet. Pick out any shards that are left in the frame, use an old chisel to remove any putty and pincers to pull out any glazing sprigs. Remember to dispose the broken glass safely.

You should then be able to see all the fixing points for the frame, which will mainly be in the frame’s jambs, and can unscrew them. Unless the frame is very loose it will not easily slide out.

Use a hacksaw or angle-grinder to cut a wedge shape centrally into the head, rail and at least one of the jambs. Lever away at the jamb wedge, increasing the pressure applied as necessary, to remove one of the sections. The rest should then come away quite easily, or with a little prying.

Finally clean out the aperture ready to install the new window frame. If whilst removing the old one you’ve inadvertently damaged the wall or any damp-proof coursing; repair them before installing the new window frame.