A stuck window is a fairly common household problem, of which there may be more than one cause. Whether it’s a minor inconvenience or if it’s interfering with your daily routine, such windows should be fixed. In this blog, replacement window company Renewal by Andersen® of Eastern NY takes an in-depth look at how to address stuck windows.
Windows can get stuck for many reasons. Here are some common causes:
Warped Frames or Sashes — Window frames expand and contract from temperature changes. Different materials expand at different rates. Some expand and contract evenly, which means they stay relatively straight and true; others don’t. The cellulose in wood, in particular, doesn’t expand and contract evenly, resulting in warped window sashes and/or frames. When this happens, parts of the window will be pushing against each other, resulting in hard-to-open, if not stuck, windows.
Dust and Grit — Dust and grit may get in the spaces between the sash and frame, which can hinder window operation. This is especially problematic with sliding windows. The bottom frame has tracks that carry the weight of all the moving parts. This means even a small deposit of dust and grit can prevent the window sashes from moving.
Shifting Foundations — Shifting house foundations can exert pressure on the window frames, distorting them. This will affect how the frames and sashes line up, resulting in hard-to-operate windows. In addition to difficult operation, windows affected by shifting foundations are less likely to form an airtight seal, making the window less energy-efficient.
Damaged Windows — Parts of the frame or sashes may be knocked out of position due to impact damage, which can result in stuck windows. Double hung windows with counterweights embedded in the frame may have damaged parts that can prevent the window from opening and closing or cause it to slam closed.
Corroded Hardware — Steel window hardware without protective coating is vulnerable to rust, which may become stuck. While many types of window hardware are user-replaceable, investing in quality brass hardware minimizes the frequent need to replace it.
Note that any and all repairs must be conducted by your window contractor or you risk further damaging the windows and voiding your window warranty coverage. That said, there are ways to alleviate some of the aforementioned causes.
Clean the Windows — Sometimes the simplest fix is to simply remove dust, dirt, and grit on the windows. Even the smallest particles can cause sashes to get stuck on or grind against their tracks. Renewal by Andersen replacement windows are designed for easy cleaning:
- Casement Windows — Instead of traditional hinged sashes, our casement windows feature operator arms that open the sashes off-hinge, which provides ample space to allow cleaning around the sash.
- Double-Hung Windows — Our double-hung windows feature sashes that can be easily disengaged and tilted back for easy cleaning.
- Sliding Windows — Our sliding windows are equipped with sashes that can be safely removed. In addition to letting you clean the sashes from a more comfortable position, it lets you easily remove any dirt and grit that may be stuck on the tracks.
Our Fibrex® material frames are likewise easy to clean and maintain. Thanks to the unique combination of wood fibers and polymer, our energy saving windows have the same low maintenance of vinyl window frames.
Apply Lubricant — Operable windows need to be lubricated at the joints to minimize the risks of getting stuck. Avoid oil-based lubricants, as they tend to linger and collect dust, which can hinder operation. Instead, choose silicon-based lubricants.
Before you apply lubrication, make sure the window is clean, and try and see if there are problems with how the windows open and close. Check if the sashes on a double-hung or sliding window can open all the way. If it gets stuck at a certain point, do not force it. The same goes with the crank mechanism on casement windows, no not crack any further if there is resistance. Most casement crank handles can be removed, giving you access to the mechanism underneath. Spray all moving parts with silicone lubricant, let it settle a few minutes, then try the sashes again. You may need to wait a few more minutes to let the lubricant work itself in. If it’s still stuck or hard to open and close, you may need to consider window replacement or repair soon.
Care and Maintenance Tips
We recommend consulting your window care and maintenance guide for detailed instructions specific to your windows. The following are common care and maintenance tips that apply to most types of windows.
- Use Them Regularly — Simply opening and closing your windows on a regular basis can help prevent them from getting stuck. If you regularly ventilate the rooms in your home—which should be done at least 15 minutes a day to flush out indoor air pollutants—then you already have a good start.
- Use Only Recommended Cleaning Products — It may be tempting to use corrosive cleaners to remove stubborn stains, but this can damage the window finish and hardware. Most of today’s replacement windows only require a mild vinegar solution to remove stubborn stains, but your window care and maintenance guide may recommend another product.
- Invest In Quality Replacement Windows — Ultimately, quality replacement windows are less likely to get stuck as they are made from materials that can be easy to get unstuck if needed.