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Windows feeling extra heavy? We swear they're not gaining weight. Replace those window sashes and they'll open and close smoothly.

Photo: Age Fotostock

Maintaining old windows takes time, but it's is worth the effort if you like historical features, prefer wood to the vinyl of most replacement windows or if you simply aren't ready to invest in new windows. Periodically, old windows will need new glazing compound, paint inside and out, and of course cleaning. But there's one repair that comes along so infrequently, you may not be familiar with it.

When an old double-hung window suddenly feels as though it weighs a ton, it's not because you skipped going to the gym for the past month. More likely, a sash cord has broken and you're no longer getting an assist from the weights and pulleys that are hidden behind the window jambs. To fix the problem, assemble the necessary tools and supplies and follow the steps listed below.

Tip: While the sash are removed and you have access to the weights, it's wise to replace all four sash cords so you won't have to face this problem again for many years.

Here's what you'll need for the project:
-Pry bar
-Utility knife

-Sash cord
-Screw or nail

Joe Provey

Step 1: Remove the interior window stops. They are pieces of molding that help form the track in which the lower (inner) window sash slides. Removal involves taking out several screws and using a utility knife to break the layer of paint or varnish that may also be holding the stop in place. In some cases, a pry bar or putty knife may be helpful when removing the stops. Apply pressure carefully, however, so as not to damage the molding.

Joe Provey

Step 2: With the interior stops removed, pull the sash carefully from the window opening and disengage all sash cord, broken or otherwise.

Step 3: To remove the upper sash, pull out the parting stops or strips that separate the two sashes. They fit into a groove in the jamb and held in place by friction. With some windows, there are metal tracks, not parting strips, that you must remove.

Step 4: Make any necessary repairs to the sash while they are out, such as repairing badly cracked or missing glazing compound, repainting and cleaning.

Joe Provey

Step 5: Remove the access cover to the weight pocket. It is a wood panel that's usually held in place with a single screw.

Step 6: Then pull the weights from the pocket. Have a vacuum handy. After years of being enclosed in the wall, there will be some dust.

Step 7: Cut a piece of sash cord to the length of the old sash cords, plus about 6 inches. Use only sash cord; do not substitute clothesline or other rope products.

Step 8: Tie one end of the cord to a piece of string.

Joe Provey

Step 9: Tie the other end to a screw (or nail). It will serve as a weight.

Step 10: Then insert the screw into the opening above the pulley and lower the string. When the screw reaches the weight pocket opening, feed the tied-off end of the sash cord over the pulley and use the string to pull it down into the weight pocket.

Step 11: Remove the weighted string and tie the sash cord to the sash weight. Use a double half-hitch knot; it gets tighter as you pull on it and will prevent the weight from coming loose during operation.

Step 12: Put the weight back into the weight pocket.

Joe Provey

Step 13: Tie an overhand knot at the other end of the sash cord at the same point at which knots are tied for the other sash cords. Cut off excess cord about 1/4-in. from the knot. Replace other sash cords in the manner described above.

Step 14: Fit the knots into the groves and knot holes at the top of each sash edge. Then reinsert the sash into the window opening.

Step 15: Reinstall the parting strips and window stops.

Now that that's taken care of, tackle your other window woes:
Window Insulation Film

Weatherstripping Doors and Windows
The Daily Fix: Clean Mold From Window Tracks

By Joe Provey

  • Home Repair

    If your window needs new paint, don't put fresh over old, take some time use a "steamer" if you don't like using paint (stripper) remover and a putty knife to remove all old paint before putting on new paint. Adding new paint over cracked dried out old weather worn painted windows only causes your windows to stick and draft more. Silicone all cracks, holes before putting on or replacing any trim.

  • mark

    I dont konw who wrote this and how much experience they hav,e but if your sash is heavy because the sash cord broke. Then that means your balance weight is down inside your wall somewhere and probably real tough to get to. Plus a lot of the older wood sash windows were made in one piece and dont have removable access pieces to get to your sash balances. This is 30 years of experience talking, GET NEW WINDOWS!! If you like wood windows fine get some Peach tree or Pella's ,or Andersen if you have the cash.

  • 2 Comments / 1 Pages

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