Double Hung Window Repair
Double hung window repair, or a sash window, may involve many things. Basically, if it will not open, close, or falls shut, then it needs to be repaired. Double hung window repair can save you the cost of replacing a window, and create inherent energy savings by calling on a professional to instead repair your sashes. Double hung window repair is not necessarily difficult but an experienced window professional can more easily diagnose and fix the problems.
The first part to double hung window repair is to understand the parts. There are two sashes-- one upper, and one lower and they both can slide up and down ("single" means only one sash moves.) Inside the channels, along which the sashes slide, is a cord with a pulley to raise and lower the upper and lower sections.
Oftentimes, double hung window repair is necessary. It all started with homes from the early 1900s. All was made from wood, with a rope pulley raised and lowered by an iron weight that moved within the side jamb. This pulley system is what allowed previous residents of your home to safely and easily raise, lower, or leave it open. Periodically a new rope would need to be installed.
In time, though, people would paint the jamb, unknowingly sealing the jamb shut. This would effectively glue the jamb closed, making the pulleys inoperable, allowing the window to slam shut instead of staying open. The rope would last so long sometimes, that the homeowners might even have painted the jamb more than once between installing new ropes. In lieu of ropes, homeowners of years past would instead use blocks, or stops, that were made specifically for double hung window repair. It would allow the window to stay open, and prevent it from slamming shut, when the ropes were no longer operable which can increase their ability to act as energy saving windows.
Unsticking the Stuck in Double Hung Window Repair
Fast forward to this millennium and we still have the same idea, though modernized some. Most employ what are termed "balances", which are metal, spring-loaded pieces that sit in the jamb. Although, perhaps as many sash-jamb duos still work with rope, weight and pulley. Either way, they all can still stick like they did back in the "olden days". Blame it on dirt, paint buildup or even the weather. Humidity can cause the sash on a double hung to stick in place too. When the high humidity lets up, that should be an instantaneous solution to the problem. If it is still stuck, try inserting a putty knife, and very gently tap the end with a hammer or mallet, to help repair the double hung. Then, insert a prybar, and try to loosen it that way.
Once it is open, chisel and sand away excess paint. Start by giving the sash channels on your double hung an additional hand, by cleaning them of debris, dirt, and even excess dried paint. The double hung window may even involve sanding and repainting, to alleviate future problems. The last part of the repair is to either rub down the channels with a candle or oil to help the sashes slide smoothly in the future. Otherwise, contact a professional to provide tender loving care to repair your double hung materials.
Back to the ropes, pulleys and weights, for a moment. The same wear and tear that was seen one hundred years ago, still happens today. The rope can eventually break, causing the sashes to slam shut. In addition the more modern answer: the balance, still needs to be replaced periodically. While at-home repair may seem like a great idea to many, it is hard to stomach for others. Even cleaning the channels is too much time spent for some people. And, that is ok. It is good to know when to call an expert.
When Replacement is More Economical
If repair on sashes has grown old for you, consider making the leap to embrace vinyl replacement windows. They do not conduct heat or cold, and are therefore energy efficient. They do not require periodic painting (and "unsticking" of paint); never scratch. They are even affordable and fairly straight forward for any. There are even many energy star and stylistic options available too. In addition, they can last for decades. Economically, if you will save on time and money, it may be beneficial to contact a dealer for a quote.
Double hung window repair involves dealing mostly with freeing via cleaning the wood channels, sashes, pulleys to successfully unstick the old double hung. When that all but fails, or if your time is worth more than the time and joy of fixing it yourself, it might be time to consider replacements of the old sash with something newer. Contact a qualified installer to weigh the financials of double hung window repair or buying new.