How to fix a sash window that won't open.
There may be a number of reasons for this problem, from mechanical to being painted shut. The result is that many people either leave them stuck shut or use force and wedge open with anything they can find, which could be a danger if the wedge is suddenly pulled, especially by a child.
It’s a daunting thought to repair a sash window as a DIY job, even if you do know a bit about the arrangement of weights, cords and pulleys.
Read on to find out how you can become more knowledgeable about sash windows and their repair:
1. Locate the offending part
This may just be something like a broken right-hand sash cord. To attach the cord to the lower sash at one end and to the weight at the other end, you will probably need to remove the window.
2. Remove the lower window
The lower sash is prevented from falling into the room by two thin, vertical strips of wood, called ‘inner staff beads’. These are detachable and held in place by half a dozen small, headless nails. Inserting a chisel between the bead and the moulding and tapping it with a wooden mallet will pry it away.
Once the beads have been removed (whole or in pieces), the lower sash should come out easily, unless it's still attached to one of the sash cords. If so, just cut it and it’s a good idea to replace both cords at the same time. Take care not to let the attached sash weight smash down to the bottom of its cavity.
NB>> Behind the lower sash, you will see a vertical ‘parting bead’, which separates it from the upper sash. You only need to remove this if the top sash is also in need of repair.
3. Remove the sash weights
In either side of the window frame where the lower sash travels, you will find the compartments where the weights are hidden. These are generally accessible via a panel of wood, technically known as a ‘pocket’, which can be pried out - unless, a previous occupant, has screwed or nailed it in place. Behind each pocket you will find the iron sash weight – which may be the original from 100 years ago.
Now is also a good time to make sure both pulleys are operating properly and are not gummed up with layers of old paint. A drop of oil may help.
4. Fix new cords to the weights
You should now have: two parting beads (one snapped in half), removed; one lower sash, removed; two sash weights, removed; one window, minus lower sash, with two long lengths of new sash cord running up and over the pulley, down into the sash weight compartment and out again at the bottom.
Tie the new cords to the old sash weights by feeding the cord through the hole in the top of the weight and out of the side; tie a figure-of-eight knot (or stop-knot) in the end so it won't pull back through.
5. Replace the lower sash
Once the cord is finally secure, cut off any excess, take up the slack from the top, reinsert your sash weights and tap the little wooden panels (pockets) back into place.
Next, examine the way in which the sash cords are affixed to the sash. Sometimes a stop-knot arrangement is used, but more often the cord is tacked into a groove with three or four ‘clout’ nails. Or just re-use the nails you pulled out to remove the old bits of sash cord.
6. The end game
For this step you will probably require an extra pair of hands. Put the sash back in place, but leave it leaning out a little at the top. Then pull the sash weights right up to the pulley, keeping the cord as taut as possible as you nail it into the groove on the side of the sash frame (as explained above). Remove any excess cord with a sharp knife. Once both cords are secured, the window should sit perfectly in place and slide up and down easily. It now needs painting.
If all this still sounds too complicated, please don’t hesitate to give us a call, sash window repairs are not easy and we will be happy to help.
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