Home Repair Tips – Window Frames

Filed Under: Do it yourself, Home repair, Remodeling    by: ITC

Many window frames are made of wood. The most common problem with window frames is sticking caused by:

• Paint

• Swelling

• Warping

• Broken sash cords

New paint is a major cause of windows sticking. Sticking of freshly painted windows can be prevented by leaving the window slightly open while painting. As soon as the paint dries, slide the window up and down. Do not wait too long because paint hardens as it ages.

If the window has been painted shut for a while, it will be difficult to open. Use a putty knife to cut through the paint seal. Never pry the window open with a chisel or pry bar.

Even if you use a piece of wood to protect the sill, the window sash will be dented.

Windows that are badly stuck may have to be removed from the frame. The sliding part of the window (sash) is held in place by two strips of wood called stops. Carefully pry up the stops. Remember, you want to use these stops again. A little patience saves buying, cutting, fitting, and painting a new piece of wood. Don’t drive the nails back out through the stop after the stop is off. Use pliers and pull the nails out through the back side of the stop. This will leave a neat little hole.

With the sash out, you may sand or scrape off the excess paint. When the weather is dry, cover any bare wood with a thin coat of paint or fast-drying sealer.

Paint protects wood frames. If moisture soaks the frame, the wood will swell. Never plane a frame that is swollen. Otherwise, when the wood dries, it will be too loose and will rattle in the wind. Instead, rub paraffin, soap, or a stick lubricant on the frame. Warped frames should be planed or sanded. If the wood is warped too much, it must be replaced.

If a sash cord breaks or the weight comes loose, the window will hang crooked, and the window won’t stay up. To fix the cord, pry off the stops. Find the sash weight door and

Usually it is held in place by one or two screws. Reach inside and take out the weight. If the sash cord is still good, the weight probably came untied. Retie it and put everything back together.

If you need a new sash cord, make sure it’s the same thickness as the old one or it won’t run through the pulley. Feed the new cord through and tie one end to the sash and the other end to the weight. The sash cord will stretch, so leave some room under the weight so it won’t hit bottom later and keep the window from opening all the way. Move the window up and down to see if you’ve tied the weight too high or too low. When you’re sure everything works, put it back together again.

When you put the stops back, ignore the old nail holes. Tap the nails in a new place, but, to avoid hammer dents, stop before you hit the frame. Finish driving the nails with a nail set. Cover the nail heads and fill in the old holes with wood putty: After several days, when the putty is dry, touch up with paint.

As a building ages, it settles..Structural settling is another cause for windows jamming. If the windows are being twisted out of line, the entire frame must be removed and reset in the wall.

Wood frame windows are often replaced by aluminum ones. Other new frames are vinyl (plastic) over a wood core.

Casement windows open with a crank that needs a yearly greasing. Because these cranks rust, you will have to keep them clean and painted. Casement windows are usually easier to care for.than wooden frame windows.

Most older houses have wooden window frames. However, most new homes have plastic or aluminum frames.

Remove the window only as a last resort. Carefully remove the stops, then pull the nails out through the back of the stop with pliers.

Painting across the moving parts of a window is a major cause of sticking. Running a putty knife between the stop and the sash will help free the window.

Lubricate all moving surfaces on the window and frame with a hard piece of soap or paraffin to help them slide better.

To repair a sash cord, remove the door in the window frame, reach in, and take out the sash weight.

Tie a knot in one end of the sash cord and fit it into the sash groove. Tie a nail to the other end for weight and feed the cord over the pulley. Raise the window and reach into the opening. Pull out the new cord. Tie it to the sash weight.

Clean casement window cranks at least once a year. Grease the track and oil the crank handle and window hinges.

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