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Sash windows - how secure are they?

(17 Posts)
MollyHuaCha Sun 05-Mar-17 19:27:27

We are toying with the idea of buying a basement apartment in a beautiful Grade 1 listed building. My question is about the beautiful sash windows. We love the appearance, the history and the way they work. But my reservation is about security - how easy are they to break into? Obvs not double glazed either. Does anyone have any experience of these in listed buildings? Thank you! smile

PigletJohn Sun 05-Mar-17 19:59:02

as built, they are not secure. They probably have a simple flitch fastener which can be opened with ease. Some may have a screw-down knob on the fastener which is slightly better. examples

However, if yours are wooden, there is a device called a Dual Screw which is unobtrusive and fixes the sashes together. It prevents them being opened or rattling. Unlike a flitch it can't easily be opened even if you smash a pane and put your hand in. It can also be used to lock the sashes an inch or two open for ventilation. Preferably have one each side.

It's quite common to find they, or some other kind of window lock, has already been fitted.

There is an Ingersoll one on here, and a Bramah. Rola and Chubb also made them. Other types of window lock are more obtrusive. They may also be on ebay. They are not widely sold now as there are not many new wooden sliding sash windows installed.

JoJoSM2 Sun 05-Mar-17 20:01:32

If a burglar wants break in though a window, they'll get through it regardless of it being timber or PVC, single or double glazed. If you don't feel safe living in the basement then perhaps focus on looking at flats higher up in buildings? I used to live on the ground floor and despite the being in a gated development in a good area, I used to get freaked out.

PigletJohn Sun 05-Mar-17 20:05:12


try this link

or here

If you have not seen one in use it is not obvious how they are fitted

but here's instructions

PigletJohn Sun 05-Mar-17 20:10:37

and a very good advice page

and some on ebay

I just checked a trade supplier whose price is £11 a pair.

BunloafAndCrumpets Sun 05-Mar-17 20:36:36

The windows in your photo aren't sash windows. They're single glazed Georgian windows from the look of them.

I think sash windows are more at risk of opportunist burglaries than double glazed units. It takes a bit of force to get through double glazing and the noise is therefore more likely to alert a neighbour.

I live in Bath which is basically full of sash windows. We had single glazed ones in one house. I felt vulnerable and also, freezing! I think this depends on your personality type. Are you an anxious sort?! If so I'd avoid unless you can afford to replace with some double glazed sash units.

BunloafAndCrumpets Sun 05-Mar-17 20:37:26

Oh sorry just saw you're talking about a listed building. Probably can't replace them then! smile

MollyHuaCha Sun 05-Mar-17 20:40:41

Many thanks to you all - really appreciate your replies. I think the pic I posted does not actually show a sash window grin. But there are sashes in other rooms. I'm wondering whether JoJo is right and I need to look at apartments on higher floors. But they are 50% more expensive... sad

thenightsky Sun 05-Mar-17 20:43:40

My parents had wooden sash windows. When they went on holiday they used to put a big screw through the middle of the frame so they couldn't be opened top or bottom.

DancingLedge Sun 05-Mar-17 20:44:36

PigletJohn you're a wonder.
I recall flitch closed but unlocked sash windows being wonderfully easy to open; my parents often used to retire to bed whilst unaware of how many of us teenagers had actually returned home.
Dual screws are very secure.
The picture is not a sash window?

PigletJohn Sun 05-Mar-17 20:53:03

the pic didn't display for me, but I've just looked it up.

I see those windows have internal shutters. They will be useful for heat, noise and discouraging forced entry, if they are substantial enough. The original Victorian ones I have seen have a pivoting steel barricade bar.

If you wanted, you could have new sashes made with laminated glass, which is much more difficult to get through than ordinary glass or toughened DG panes. You can get laminated DG panes made to order at extra cost. If you have ever seen a glass door on a shop that somebody has tried to break, and it has cracked like a spiders web but not gone into a hole, that's laminated glass. I think you would need new sashes made because it may be thicker and heavier, and I think you would want the window glazed with a single pane (even if it had ornamental wooden squares) otherwise the thin wood between the panes could be broken.

SheepyFun Sun 05-Mar-17 21:09:19

We had sash windows in the street-facing rooms of a rented house for a bit. We weren't particularly concerned about security, but they leaked really badly - so badly we didn't use the largest bedroom (across the width of the house at the front) because even with the heating on full blast and a fan heater, the room wouldn't stay warm in the winter. At that point there were just the two of us, so we could use another bedroom. If you're buying, then you can do something about the drafts and insulation, but be aware that it can be an issue. If you have shutters in every room that will definitely help.

MollyHuaCha Sun 05-Mar-17 22:11:25

Thank you so much everyone. Yes, sorry, my pic was not of sash window. But they are elsewhere in the apartment. It's not possible to change the windows due to the historical listing. I hadn't considered draughts! Thanks for pointing that out. Yes, all the windows have gorgeous internal shutters. We're still really interested in apartments in this location. But after reading your helpful replies, I've realized I would never feel comfortable with the security of these windows. We're hoping an upper floor apartment of a similar price comes on the market as we really love this place!

kirinm Mon 06-Mar-17 16:36:41

Are you sure you can't change to double glazed sash? I'm in a conservation area and had new wooden double glazed sashes installed two weeks ago. I did need planning permission but got it eventually.

MollyHuaCha Mon 06-Mar-17 17:48:27

Thanks Kirin. There are several buildings in this area all of similar appearance. They are Grade 1 listed and have an obligation to keep the character of their original appearance. Not a single double glazed window in sight! If we buy one, we'll aim to keep it looking as it should. I think we're looking for an upper floor apartment now. They will have higher ceilings too as the lower floor was built as servant quarters.

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