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.
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:
-Screw or nail
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.
With the interior stops removed, pull the sash carefully from the window opening and disengage all sash cord, broken or otherwise.
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.
Make any necessary repairs to the sash while they are out, such as repairing badly cracked or missing glazing compound, repainting and cleaning.
Remove the access cover to the weight pocket. It is a wood panel that's usually held in place with a single screw.
Then pull the weights from the pocket. Have a vacuum handy. After years of being enclosed in the wall, there will be some dust.
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.
Tie one end of the cord to a piece of string.
Tie the other end to a screw (or nail). It will serve as a weight.
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.
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.
Put the weight back into the weight pocket.
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.
Fit the knots into the groves and knot holes at the top of each sash edge. Then reinsert the sash into the window opening.
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