Today is the first day of Fall! The summer heat has broken and the nighttime temperatures are in the high 50′s. It’s time to turn off the air conditioner and open the windows!
There’s just one problem. A few of the window sashes are stuck. Some are frozen because paint has glued the sash to the tracks and/or the tracks need to be lubricated.
The windows are the “double hung” variety, meaning the top and bottom sashes can be raised and lowered independently. The vinyl tracks – also called jamb liners – are the compression type, having a foam backing to maintain a tight seal around the window while allow the window to be removed – with difficulty – for repairs if necessary. A coiled compression spring inside the tracks counter balances the weight of the windows.
Lubricate the Window Tracks
The bottom sash raises up and the side tracks are normally in good shape, being on the indoor side protected from the elements – rain, spider webs, dirt and dust.
- Wipe off any dust, dirt, cob webs or whatever from the window tracks with a damp rag until clean and dry.
- Apply a light coat of silicone spray to the track of the lower sash as indicated by the red dots in the photo below. Wipe off any excess with a paper towel. I prefer silicone spray because it’s colorless, very slick and won’t leave a sticky residue as it ages.
Caution – Read the instructions on the spray can and test a small area first to make sure there it won’t discolor or dissolve the paint or plastic. I’ve never had a problem, but best to test first.
Freeing the Bottom Window Sash
Now that you’ve cleaned and lubricated the inside tracks, it’s time to raise the window. Unlock the window and raise it. If it opens, great!
Occasionally the sash won’t budge after being locked in place for a season. To break the sash free, rap both sides with a downward hammer fist at the spot indicated by the blue dot on the outer frame. Not too hard! Start lightly and stronger if needed. You don’t want to break the window, although modern manufacture windows are quite tough and made of tempered glass.
If the hammer fist doesn’t work, examine the exterior window frame as I’ve discovered instances where the paint has bonded the window to the frame. This happens when the painters are careless and fill-in the gap between the exterior frame and sash. If so, you’ll need to cut through the painted-filled joint with a utility knife to free the sash.
The bottom sash can now be raised into the freshly cleaned and lubricated upper track. Work the bottom sash up and down several times spread the silicone spray.
With the bottom sash raised, you can now clean and lubricate the exposed bottom tracks – the area between the red lines in the next photo.
Freeing the Top Window Sash
Lower the upper sash (top half of window) by pulling down and/or rapping upwards with a hammer fist. It helps to remove the window screen to allow move room to maneuver. Clean and lube the upper track.
Window Sashes Stuck to the Window Frame by Paint
The top sashes on all my windows were frozen in place and wouldn’t budge despite my efforts. I discoveredpaint had glued the windows to the frame the last time the house was painted.
The vinyl side track has a weather seal that overlaps the edge of the window sash. The paint dried along this joint, gluing the window in place. It’s amazing how strong the paint bond is to the window frame.
Insert a putty knife between the window sash and the weather seal to break the painted seam free.
Slide the putty knife upward. The vinyl weather seal will flex, breaking the paint bond to the sash. Keep the blade nearly flat and work it along the seam several times.
Run the putty along the other side of the window frame to break the paint seam.
Copyright © 2013 HandymanHowTo.com Reproduction strictly prohibited.