Any reason not to use pulley seals in my double-hung windows?

la_koalaSeptember 15, 2008


I've searched the forums here for "pulley seals" and haven't seen anything talking specifically about these.

Most of our double-hung windows have the upper sash pulley exposed. When the wind really blows, I can feel the air coming in. :-) Some of the windows have what I think are called "pulley seals". They look like grooved aluminum pieces that cover the pulleys and the windows ride up and down on them.

With winter approaching, I'm thinking of getting pulley seals for the windows that don't currently have them. I'd like to know if anyone knows of reasons why pulley seals should be avoided.

Forewarned is forearmed! :-)

Thanks in advance,


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I'm not sure I understand. We have the tracks that the windows move in on some windows (I think ours are copper not aluminum)but those are the ones that my dh took out the pulleys and put in insulation. I have to say that the pulleys sure work great more easily though when its 20 below 0F, ease of opening the window is my last concern. Our old windows have a piece of wood covering the pulleys that was part of the original window. How old are yours?

    Bookmark   September 17, 2008 at 11:19AM
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Hi Kathy,

My house was built in 1897. I am assuming the windows are the original windows. Next to the top sashes, I can see the pulley mechanism for all of the windows, except the ones that apparently now have tracks.

Thanks for responding to my post. I took a look at all of my windows again and I see that I was confused about some things. :-) I realize now that the windows where I don't see the pulleys must have been fixed up like you said your dh did yours: the pulleys taken out and replaced with tracks. I got mixed up because our bedroom has four windows, and three of them have these tracks and one has the pulleys. I would have thought the previous owner would have replaced them 'en masse', which is why I assumed the tracks were some type of cover simply coverig up the pulley space at the top of the pulley.

I did find a This Old House video about how to plug the hole where the rope meets pulley with a small strip of rubber carpet padding. At least I can stop the wind from blowing through it, and remove the piece when I want to open the window. :-) Here's a link to that video; the plugging part is at the end:,,20051453,00.html

Kathy, you wrote that your old windows have a piece of wood covering the pulleys. Does the wood run all the way from the top of the window to cover the pulley mechanism completely?


    Bookmark   September 19, 2008 at 4:07PM
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Yes. Our house was built in the 1920s and the pulleys are completely inside the woodwork. We have a mix of "fixed" windows and ones with pulleys because its fairly labor intensive to change them. My dh used to have a business almost 30 years ago in which he converted old windows and insulated them as well as other energy saving things. But it was too soon, people weren't interested in paying for the time that it took for that kind of retrofit when oil was relatively cheap. I'll ask him if he ever ran into your style of window and if he has any suggestions of a fairly simple fix.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2008 at 8:51PM
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Circus Peanut

You might try a place like wm rigby or killian hardware to see what they offer in the way of specialized sash sealer pieces? Rigby in particular were very helpful to me when I gave them a call.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2008 at 8:26AM
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Hi kathy, thanks in advance for asking your dh if he has any suggestions for a simple fix. I'm thinking of something small/simple to get us through this winter, and then I can start fixing up the windows in the spring to be better sealed.

Hey circuspeanut, thanks so much for posting the links to those sites! I have such a mishmash of window locks at the moment, and had no idea where to find ones that are in keeping with the old-fashioned styles. Those suppliers look great!

    Bookmark   September 22, 2008 at 10:44AM
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Sorry, my dh doesn't have any great solutions that are simple! The windows that we have with a rope coming through the hole (still have pulleys inside) he puts "seal and peel" for the winter he says.
We now have interior storm windows on all of our windows. They are one piece and were custom made to our (dh's, lol) measurements. For many years we put up heavy plastic on tracks. The windows were expensive (about $180 each) and storing the ones we take down in the summer is an issue. However they are less expensive than replacement windows, have made a huge difference in air infiltration, and I can see perfectly through them, unlike plastic. They are not for everyone, I'm sure, but we love them.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2008 at 7:31AM
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Hi Kathy, thanks for following up on this. I really appreciate that!

Thanks for sharing your experiences with the interior storm windows and that they made a huge difference with the air infiltration. The interior storms were another idea I ran across on the web, and I had been wondering how much of a pain they are to take on and off if you want to open the window on a warmish winter day.

The air infiltration is where I'm going to try and concentrate my efforts. In our bedroom, we have the Hunter Douglas cellular shades which seem to work well in keeping the heated air inside that room. They were too expensive to put in all of the rooms in the house. And I think cold air comes in somewhat from the one bedroom window that still has a pulley.

This winter, I think I'll aim to do a combination of things: caulk the baseboards, temporary plugs in the pulley holes for the windows that have those, close off rooms that we don't really *have* to use, :-) and maybe some interior storms for the windows in the rooms that we think we really have to use.

Thanks again! You've been a great help.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2008 at 1:09PM
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