Repairing Sash Windows

This story shows you how to free a stuck sash.

Intro

A double-hung wood window typically has two sashes that move up and down. Many people nail and paint shut the upper sash. This makes it easier to seal but will make cleaning the window difficult if you cannot get at it from the outside.

If a sash will not stay up, the chain or cord connecting to the weight is probably broken. Replacing a chain or cord can be accomplished in an hour or so.

To make an older unit work more smoothly, a bit of detailed work is often required. If the window has been painted many times, you may need to scrape or even remove paint from sashes or stops in order to free the action. A balky pulley may also need to have its paint removed. Often a spray lubricant will help as well.

A drafty window can be sealed by adding weatherstripping. A storm window will help greatly as well.

Newer windows have a variety of mechanisms to keep sashes up when raised.

Prestart Checklist

Time
1 or 2 hours for most repairs

Tools
Screwdriver, hammer, utility knife, zipper tool, flat pry bar, tin snips, pliers, paint scraper, putty knife, taping blades, sanding block, chisel

Skills
No special skills

Prep
Place a drop cloth on the floor by the window.

Materials
Caulk, sash chain or cord, wire, spray lubricant, paraffin block or candle, finishing nails, perhaps repair parts for newer windows

Freeing a stuck sash: Step 1

If a sash is painted shut, score the line with a zipper tool. You can use a utility knife, but the zipper cuts through paint with less chance of making a ragged edge.

Freeing a stuck sash: Step 2

If the sash remains stuck, wedge two taping blades or putty knives between the sash and the stop, insert a chisel or flat pry bar between them, and tap. Do this at several locations.

Freeing a stuck sash: Step 3

If the window will not pull up by the handles, try prying it up. This is usually best accomplished from the outside. To protect against denting the wood, use two taping blades or putty knives and a pry bar. First try prying in the middle. If that doesn't work, pry one side, then the other.

Freeing a stuck sash: Step 4

Sashes glide through a channel formed by the jamb and stops. If these are caked with paint, use a pull-type paint scraper or a chisel to remove the impediments. Then sand or wire-brush and vacuum. For a really thorough job, remove the sashes and strip all the paint.

Freeing a stuck sash: Step 5

To make the window glide smoothly, lubricate the channel with candle wax, paraffin, spray silicone, or spray dry lube.


Comments (3)
8091005220
jjbrug6 wrote:

need more info.

4/20/2012 10:34:28 AM Report Abuse
nydia wrote:

I have some windows that are askewed. I live in an old house and the windows don't close flush on bottom or top. Is it a problem with the frame? If so how do I level it?

3/4/2012 06:14:53 PM Report Abuse
christinafourm wrote:

This is great advice but it is always great to seek help from experts! Christina http://www.sashwindow.com/

9/16/2011 04:13:00 AM Report Abuse
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