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What to do with old window counter weights? Answered

My house was built in 1915 and we are replacing the windows to get better efficiency. Now I have all these weights. I can have them thrown into a landfill but that seems like a bad idea. I've seen people doing things with homemade forges but I don't have one. Would these be useful? Could they be melted down? Or could they be toxic?

30 Replies

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RonaldG28 (author)2016-04-24

I have a use for them. where is home for them now? How many do you have.

Please advise

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SarahG227 (author)RonaldG282017-09-19

Do you still need? I have 60

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CarolS182 (author)RonaldG282017-01-16

I have 7 of them that I would like to find a good home for....

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Davey1000 (author)2017-01-09

Hi! My answer to your question is that the cast iron sash weights are usually of poor quality (the metal usually has blowholes, cementite and sand in it.) After all the only thing that the weights are required to do is to be-heavy! All is not lost however as if a boat-builder is building a long-keel-sailing-yacht, the weights might save him a lot of money. The material of choice is of course Lead but it costs over $1000 per ton. A cheaper method is to paint the sash weights with anti-rust paint then embed them in the keel with resin. The problem of course is obtaining more than a ton of weights.

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BenG82 (author)2016-05-21

mine were iron as well, and I use them as the weights at the end of a trot line when I am fishing in the river. they can come in handy seeing as they have a eelit that makes them easy to fasten when you need em, I don't knw why everyone hates new windows. They reduce drafts and cold spots in my old home not tmention the immense savings in the heating and cooling costs that I have seen

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Rocketshoes (author)2016-01-06

regrettably i have a stack of these weights as well, mine have roman numerals on them and i will keep a few for book stops and door stops and to remind my self what a huge mistake i made replacing the windows in the first place. no matter how much money you spend on the top of the line new windows, they will not come close to the elegance and feel of the original windows made with early 20th century craftsmanship. take the time and money and restore your old windows, even the best of the new windows are crap.

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RonaldG28 (author)Rocketshoes2016-04-24

Where is home for the sash window weights? How many do you have? if the freight is not prohibitive i could do with 20 or 30

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ctgscott (author)2015-10-16

This one disappoints me a little... and here's why: Modern windows simply are not that much more efficient than a repaired historic window. I run a firm that repairs both modern and historic windows and we regularly find that modern windows have a life span of around 15 years (guides, rollers, latches, springs break, dual-pane glass fogs up and the old, trusty wooden windows just keep on chuggin' along. I urge you to consider repairing the old windows, integrating modern weather stripping and perhaps adding a low-E film to your south and west facing windows. Then you will not have the problem of what to do with your left over iron weights.

They are iron by the way. There were a few made out of lead, and one or two made out of brass or bronze, but VERY few. Nearly all were made of the cheapest/densest metal builders could find, pig-iron. They are non-toxic, they are not valuable but they will keep working if you let them.

Another thought about what to do with them, in case you have them lying around in your garage... donate them to a firm like mine that needs to put them back into houses undergoing restoration. :)

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Ann Carlyle (author)ctgscott2016-03-10

I have a pile of circa 1922 window pulleys. Would you like those? I can send them to you.

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ctgscott (author)Ann Carlyle2016-03-11

Hi Ann, I would be grateful to receive them. Pulleys are interesting in that they often are not quite the right size/shape/design when attempting to match with an old window where one or two have been broken or lost, but when they are a fit they are very helpful! Thanks for thinking of us! -Scott

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Rocketshoes (author)ctgscott2016-01-06

this is excellent advice! we just spent a fortune on the top of the line new double pained windows and i feel they have ruined the feel of our 1929 home. i wish i knew about your firm, now you live and learn hopefully.

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JustinS112 (author)2016-01-06



I think you should have to replace your old window counter
weights with new windows. You can buy it from srshardware.com. They are
offering window weights at 1.60 dollar per pound.

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orb4me (author)2015-09-30

I have 6 of them now. just came out of old windows. cheap on ebay, but pay through the nose for shipping. I like some of the ideas for them to weight things down. tx for the ideas.

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orb4me (author)orb4me2015-09-30

paint them and place them in real fireplace or just decoration for the fireplace?

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iceng (author)2015-08-18

They are collectibles offer them on eBay.

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rickharris (author)2013-05-02

They are more than likely lead, It has a high scrap value try your local scrap yard who will pay you by weight for it.

They may be brass and are equally valuable, again the scrap yard will buy them off you. Alternatively if you have a local model engineer he/she will be delighted to take them off you and turn them into something interesting.

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steveastrouk (author)rickharris2013-05-02

Never seem a lead one. All the ones in mum and dad's were pigiron.

Steve

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Kiteman (author)steveastrouk2013-05-02

Might be a time/regional/cost thing - I've seen lead ones.

A friend's house had a sash wall - the dividing wall between two rooms could be lifted into a hollow wall upstairs. It had a pulley system in the loft, with big lead counterweights.

She went and got it replaced, a choice she later regretted.

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steveastrouk (author)Kiteman2013-05-02

Ouch. I'd've paid money to see that idea in action.

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Kiteman (author)steveastrouk2013-05-02

I never saw it move - for a while, I think it was painted shut!

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rickharris (author)Kiteman2013-05-02

Our Victorian house had lead weights in the windows. I have seen brass as well - very nice for turning - Old brass seems to be a lot more friendly then newer stuff. maybe I am buying the wrong grade!

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Yorkshire Lass (author)2013-05-04
You could:
  • use them to hold down the corners of picnic blankets and tablecloths used outside
  • pile a few in the bottom of any tree tubs you have, to stop them blowing over in high winds and make them less desirable to plant thieves (who won’t know they are filled with brass or lead, just that they are too heavy to carry away)
  • keep one for use as a plumb bob when hanging wallpaper
  • pop one in your garage/shed to tie on the end of a rope the next time you need to sling it over a branch to hang a swing, hammock or to control the fall of the branch when you are pruning it
  • if you have a garden pond, you could use a brass weight to anchor newly planted waterlilies
  • the weights could maybe be used to secure the ends of party bunting or banners by hanging them over tree branches - less trouble than tying the ends around branches
  • use one with a length of cord for chilling a bottle of wine or beer in a stream when picnicking - there isn’t always anything convenient to tie the cord around on the bank
  • keep one under the seat in your car in case you ever have a crash and need to smash your way out through the window (lead may be too soft for this)
  • likewise, if you have toughened or laminated glass in your house windows, keep a weight in each bedroom in case there is a fire and it's too dark or smokey to find the window keys/catches
  • get kids to practise their swimming skills by picking up a weight from the bottom of the pool

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vince 09 (author)2013-05-01

I gave all of ours to a local blacksmith

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iceng (author)vince 092013-05-01

Who probably sold them on eBay :-)

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vince 09 (author)iceng2013-05-02

Well I hope he got something good for them lol there where like 30 of them lol

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steveastrouk (author)2013-05-01

There are shops that renovate old sashes and can't find weights.

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RavensCraft (author)2013-05-01

They would make great tarp hold-down weights,
If you have something outside that you want to protect
from the weather. Just tie a piece of rope to the weight
and let it hang from a grommet on the tarp.

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Burf (author)2013-05-01

Some old window sash weights are collectable, particularly those that have manufacturer's markings on them. Those not of the typical cylindrical shape are more collectable.
I have seen a fireplace andiron and grate made from old sash weights but for practical purposes, if you can't sell them or use them as decorator pieces, they're not anymore useful or valuable than any similarly shaped piece of cast iron.

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