Prairie Rim Tech

Replacing the window well covers

It’s the rainy season here in Nebraska, which means it’s time to replace all the broken window well covers that the careless kids have stepped on throughout the year.  Our house is a little more difficult than most, because the stucco siding on our 120-year-old house has a very random edge right above the basement windows.  This requires us to trim the edges of the window well covers to a perfect fit before we can screw them into place on the window frame.

It’s not really a big deal, but it’s what I did this afternoon.  We’ve found through experience that window well covers play a vital role in keeping rain water out of the window wells, and consequently, out of our basement.  Apparently, our basement windows aren’t completely water tight.

After removing the old cover (which came out in handfuls), I pulled the weeds from around the window well.  Nothing grows inside the window well itself, because we dumped a bunch of salt in there several years ago.  It’s been pretty effective so far.

You can get new covers at any hardware store or home center.  I got mine at Home Depot.  There are lots of different shapes of covers, so measure your window & well to make sure you get a cover that’s both tall enough, deep enough, and wide enough to do the job.

The irregular edge of the stucco makes fitment hard

I held the new cover in place and used a Sharpie to mark the edge that I needed to cut.  I find that tin snips do a pretty good job of trimming the plastic covers.  Once the edge is cut and the cover fits nicely in place, I pre-drill three holes along the top of the cover (the only place it touches wood) so that I can screw the cover to the top of the window frame using galvanized or stainless steel screws.

We get a lot of wind on the south side of our house, so I also screw the lower front edge of the covers to the front of the window wells, just to keep them from getting ripped off in a gale.  It works alright, but as the covers age and get brittle, they tend to break around those front screw heads.

The top corner has been cut to match the stucco edge

If you’ve got any suggestions on how to tackle this job more easily (not that it’s terribly difficult to begin with), I’d love to hear them in the comments below.

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