Inner Portland neighborhoods consist mainly of houses that predate the 1950s and we all know the frustration of having windows that won’t open.

Patty Spencer had this same problem, but she was an Environmental Engineer and figuring out how things worked is what she does best.

So when the bathroom window of her craftsman house wouldn’t open, she took it apart and learned how it operated.

Eventually every window in the house could open both up and down and she had the idea for her business, Fresh Air Sash Cord Repair, Inc., – celebrating twenty years as a successful business this April.

Spencer remembers the day her four year old son put her business registration in the mail box, and he’s twenty four now.

She started building the business slowly by working in the late afternoons while a sitter watched the kids  until their dad got home. Eventually they went to school, and she went to work full time. Now Fresh Air Sash Cord Repair has two other female employees.

“I have a passion for detail, a light touch and I stand behind my work,” Spencer said. This ensures that when the job is done, her customers are satisfied and have windows that open and close easily both up and down.

The business follows the requirements of the 1978 lead ban to a “T” so a bubble is created around the project to keep the house and workers dust free and safe.

Spencer advises that people consider repairing windows before replacing them.

“The quality of craftsmanship in an older home means the windows will last as long as the house.”

Replacement windows don’t always withstand the test of time and end up in the landfill. Fresh Air is an advocate for the Reduce, ReUse, ReCycle mantra.

They’ll make a rough estimate of costs and will come to your place in person when you decide to proceed. Then they’ll give you a time line for completion.

“We like to do at least two windows at a time and in the summer months, seven, since we have to haul a lot of equipment,” she said.

See freshairsash.com or call 503.284.7693. NT

Spencer is giving a presentation The Basics of Wood Window Repair at the Architectural Heritage Center, 701 SE Grand Avenue, April 27, 10 am-Noon,  The workshop is $12, $8 for AHC members. Reserve a space at freshairsash.com or visitahc.org.