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Window Repair and Replacement


A window generally consists of an affixed frame to which lighter units called sashes are fitted. These sashes hold the glass and move in a variety of directions (sliding, outward. opening, etc.). Windows are generally made from timber, aluminum steel.

The major problems associated with windows are:

  • broken glass
  • rotting or rusting of the frame or sash
  • or most commonly the sashes become difficult or impossible to open. It is this factor that we will look into repairing.
  • Timber Casement Sashes

    These sashes open outwards on hinges, like doors, or by the use of friction stays. If the sashes are difficult to open it will usually be for one of the reasons given below:

  • Continuous painting has sealed the clearance gap. If this has happenned, treat the same as for a sticking door.
  • Water has penetrated into the joints because of cracked glazing putty or peeling paint and the glue has given way allowing the sash to gas. The only effective way to correct this problem is to take the sash out of the frame, tap the joints apart and, clean off the old glue, and re-glue with a waterproof glue such as epoxy.
  • Unfortunately you'll require a sash clamp to pull the joints tight, although you can also do it by nailing a series of blocks to a bench or old table and using wedges. Check that the frame is square by making the diagonals the same (usually 45 degrees).

    When dry, carefully repaint the joint and surrounding area with primer, undercoat and finishing coats and repeat where necessary to achieve the desired finish. The screws may have also pulled loose. The holes should repaired the same way as for loose catches and rescrewed.

    Friction stays that cause the window to be difficult to operate require lubrication. Clean any grit or dirt out of the fitting with wood-friendly brushes, then use Vaseline or one of the dry lubricants obtainable from your petrol station to lessen friction. Candle wax has been prescribed for an emergency, but what what would cause an emergency? Do the job properly, the candle wax will quickly leave you in the same situation after a few open and closes.

    If rust has damaged the stay it should be replaced. Make sure you get two of a similar size.

    Horizontal Sliding Sashes

    These may be of timber or metal and run on a metal track using either nylon or roller bearings. If they are sticking, clear away any dirt that has built up in the track, then re-lubricate the bearings with grease or graphite.

    If this doesn't work, check whether the top of the window frame is rubbing on the top of the sash. If this is happening then some settlement has taken place (quite normal). With a timber sash, you can remove the beading or trim which holds it in place, then lift the sash out and plane the top of it until it has 2-3 mm clearance.

    Alternatively, locate the area of deflection and drive a nail up through the timber lining into the window head to try to pull the top of the window frame upwards. If neither of these solutions works, call in a builder to help you with the problem.

    Vertical Sliding Windows

    The two most common ways to make these windows work are spiral balances or weights and cords. In the case of a spiral balance that is weak, undo the bottom clasp and, turn the clasp several times to the left. That should retighten the spring. Screw the clasp back on and see if it works.

    If the spring is broken, replace the balance but make sure you get two (if one's gone, it's likely the other one won't be far away). They must be the same size or they may not support the weight of the sash. Replacing broken or badly rotted cords in wooden box frame windows is a fairly tricky job. Check first in your piggy bank to see if there is enough money to pay carpenter to do it. Assuming you can even find one who is willing and knows what to do, you may find it cheaper to replace the windows outright.

    If you need to replace a sash cord continue reading our tips on replacing a window sash cord.

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