This story shows you how to repair sliding windows.
Most sliding (also called gliding) windows have one or more sashes that slide along metal tracks at the bottom and top of the frame. Sometimes the tracks are wood or vinyl. Sashes may have nylon rollers on the bottom and sometimes the top as well.
The most common problem is a dirty bottom track. The solution is to clean and lubricate the track. The rollers on the bottom of the sash can pick up dust and may need to be cleaned as well.
A catch, which secures the window when closed, can fail. You may be able to bend a small part to make it work, but often the solution is to replace the catch.
Finding replacement parts can be difficult. If you can find the make and model of the unit, you may be able to contact the manufacturer or an online parts supply source to obtain the parts you need.
1 or 2 hours for most repairs
Screwdriver, pliers, hammer, wire brush, vacuum, putty knife
No special skills needed
Place a drop cloth on the floor near the window.
Replacement rollers (glides) or latch as needed, spray graphite lubricant
To remove a sliding sash, remove any security devices that may be holding it in place. Lift the sash into the top track, tilt the bottom out, and remove the window. With some models you need to align the rollers with notches in the bottom track before the sash will tilt out.
If the bottom roller (or glide) does not roll, try cleaning it. If it still does not operate, remove it. On a wood sash you can unscrew the roller unit and remove it. For some metal units you may have to first disassemble the bottom rail. Knock the pieces apart using a hammer and a block of wood.