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How to Fix a Window that Won’t Stay Open

How to Fix a Window that Won’t Stay Open

Updated: 01.24.2024

By Nina Tsoy

Double-hung windows, a popular choice for their versatility and airflow options, are an integral part of many homes. However, a common and frustrating issue arises when these windows refuse to stay open. This not only disrupts the comfort of your living space but also poses potential safety risks. In our guide, we delve into the world of double-hung windows, examining why they sometimes fail to stay open and offering practical solutions.

We’ll explore the various factors that contribute to this problem and provide step-by-step instructions on how to effectively fix your double-hung window. Whether you’re a DIY enthusiast or just seeking to understand the issue better, our comprehensive guide will equip you with the knowledge and techniques needed to restore the functionality and safety of your windows.

How Double-Hung Windows Operate

How Double-Hung Windows Operate

In a double-hung window, two sashes are present, one above and one below. Each sash has the ability to move up and down, offering ventilation options.

These windows function by gliding along tracks in the side jambs. Within these side jambs, and sometimes the head jamb, resides the balance system. This system plays a crucial role in offsetting the weight of each sash, making it easier to move them vertically. Additionally, double-hung windows have the capability to tilt the lower sash outward using tilt latches. This feature is particularly handy for cleaning the window’s exterior from the inside, avoiding the need for external ladders. For added security, the windows include a mechanism to lock the sash in its desired position.

Why Does a Window Keep Falling Down?

Each of these factors can impact the functioning of the sash, frame, and track, potentially turning a simple annoyance into a safety hazard.

Improperly Applied Paint

Sometimes, the issue of a window sash falling can stem from paintwork that wasn’t done meticulously. Overpainting can lead to the sash sticking to the frame, effectively sealing it shut. This situation requires gentle scraping using a tool like a utility knife to break the bond created by the paint. Future painting should be done with care, particularly around the window frame and sash, to prevent recurrence.

Compromised Balance Systems

Compromised Balance Systems

Window balances are crucial for the smooth operation of double-hung windows, maintaining the position of the sash on both the left and right sides. When these balancing mechanisms fail, often termed as broken balances, it can lead to the window abruptly shutting. This not only poses a safety hazard but also indicates the window is not functioning correctly. Repairing this may involve reconnecting the balances to the sash, possibly through the pivot bars, or replacing worn-out internal mechanisms. It’s often necessary to determine the specific type of balance system your window uses for accurate repair or replacement.

Accumulated Dirt and Debris

The presence of dirt and grime in the window track can hinder the window’s ability to stay open. This is because the buildup creates friction, obstructing the movement of the window sash. Cleaning the window track thoroughly and ensuring the tilt latches and tilt pins are free from debris can often resolve this issue. Regular maintenance and cleaning of these areas are essential for proper window function.

Loose or Damaged Fasteners

The secure functioning of double-hung windows often depends on the integrity of fasteners, including pivot bars and other hardware. If these components are loose or damaged, the window may not stay open as intended. Tightening these fasteners might resolve the issue; however, if they are severely worn or have stripped holes, replacement might be necessary. It’s important to check both sides of the window to ensure all fasteners are intact and functioning properly.

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How to Fix a Double-Hung Window that Won’t Stay Up

The following steps will help you realign and repair your double-hung window, ensuring it functions smoothly and stays securely in its desired position.

Difficulty LevelSimple
Time neededApproximately 5 minutes
Possible tools requiredFlathead screwdriver

#1. Identify the Balance Mechanism

#1. Identify the Balance Mechanism

The first step in fixing a double-hung window that won’t stay up is to find the balance mechanism within the window frame. This system usually consists of a sash cord or other balancing devices that counterbalance the window’s weight. It’s crucial to examine these components to see if they’re intact and functioning properly. If the balance mechanism is damaged or has come loose, it’ll need attention to restore the window’s proper operation.

#2. Adjust and Reposition the Balance

Once you’ve located the balance system, the next step is to reposition or adjust it. This might involve reattaching a sash cord or realigning the balance itself. In some cases, the pivot bar, which connects the sash to the balance, may need replacing. These parts are generally available at most hardware stores. Ensure the balance is set correctly, allowing the window sash to rest horizontally when in the locked position.

#3. Realign and Reset the Window

Finally, resetting the window involves ensuring that all parts, including the pivot bar and balance mechanism, are properly aligned and secured. If the window has been dislodged from its track, use a putty knife or a similar tool to gently nudge the sash back into place. Make sure the window moves smoothly up and down and that the locking mechanism securely holds the window in the desired position. Regular maintenance and checks will ensure the window continues to function correctly.

Considering Replacement with Apex Window Werks

Considering Replacement with Apex Window Werks

When faced with the challenge of a window that won’t stay open, it’s essential to weigh the options of window replacing versus repairing. While the steps outlined can often remedy the issue, sometimes the problems in older windows run deeper, making replacement a more viable option. Modern windows not only offer improved functionality but also come with enhanced energy efficiency, which can be a significant advantage for your home.

If you’re uncertain about the best course of action, consider consulting with a professional window repair company. Apex Window Werks, serving Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, is an expert in both window repair and replacement. Remember, the right decision can not only solve your immediate problem but also contribute to the long-term comfort and energy efficiency of your home.

Nina Tsoy

Nina Tsoy

With over 15 years of experience in the window repair, replacement, and manufacturing business, Nina is in charge for strategic solutions and exceptional operational performance at Apex Window Werks. This allows her to offer innovative techniques and solutions to address any window-related problem, all while adhering to industry standards and best practices.

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