Double hung window top won't stay closed.

Melissa RedickJanuary 17, 2012

We just recently moved into a new house that is about ten years old. It has double hung windows. On some of the windows the top part of the window is sliding down so it is not flush with the top of the frame creating a draft. Any ideas on how to fix this and what causes it? We think they are spring tension, but we can't seem to see where the springs would be on them.

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PRO
Windows on Washington Ltd

What type of window?

A picture would help the pros identify which window and make the proper recommendations.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2012 at 7:55AM
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Melissa Redick

They are just regular windows. I have them all throughout my house. Some stay up at the top just fine and others there is the draft. I can't tell what the difference between the proper functioning ones and the "broken" ones is.

I'm not exactly sure which part of the window you need, so here are a few views. The first being straight on, the second being sort of from the side, the third being where the lock is, and the fourth being the top where the air is coming in. You can't really tell from the picture, but there is a pretty good gap at the top where the window isn't going all the way up.

The only markings I can see on the windows is on the lock where it says MW. I don't see any etchings or stickers or anything showing a manufacturer. I believe the windows are made of wood, but the tracks look to be vinyl or plastic... I'm not sure.

If you need better pictures or a better explanation than I can try harder. Thanks!

    Bookmark   January 18, 2012 at 10:25AM
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GulfBreezeWindows

MW=Plygem at least now they do.

But your problem actually seems to be from wrong size sashes. Either they were measured wrong or they have been removed and replaced wrong.

Easiest quick fix suggestion I might give, if you don't want new windows, would be to make and install a wood piece on the bottom jamb that will make the window stop sooner than it is now. This may involve removing the sashes and rails and making a piece and then trimming the plastic rails to fit.

If done right it should work well and look good. I am assuming a few things, like your jamb is deep enough to hold a 1x piece of woood so that you still have enough sill to cover the bottom window of the window edge.

Hope this makes since.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2012 at 11:39AM
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PRO
Windows on Washington Ltd

Good ole M&W windows.

Not much you can do with them to tighten them up in terms of adjusting the window.

They are likely spring balances or some sort of compression liner.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2012 at 1:17PM
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brickeyee

The latch is not catching the upper sash?

You may just need to lock the window once it is closed.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2012 at 4:36PM
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HomeSealed

I was thinking the same as brickeye... A few times every year I go out on a serice call for leaky windows where the top sash was not all the way up so the lock just glides over the keeper and doesn't actually lock the window... If that is not the case, is the gap even from side to side? Its hard to tell from the pic.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2012 at 6:33PM
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HomeSealed

Nvm, I just noticed the pic of the lock/keeper which looks good... Is the gap even across though?

    Bookmark   January 18, 2012 at 10:08PM
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HomeSealed

Nvm, I just noticed the pic of the lock/keeper which looks good... Is the gap even across though?

    Bookmark   January 18, 2012 at 10:09PM
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PRO
Windows on Washington Ltd

If the keeper is latched, you will need to figure out some some of wedge to put into the keeper to force the upper sash up further into the head jamb.

This is not uncommon. We see builders grade wood windows that develop these gaps overtime as the materials shrink and break down.

We normally see them where you can actively see daylight through the top.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2012 at 7:30AM
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Melissa Redick

Thanks for the input everyone. The gap appears to be pretty even across. It looks to be about a sixteenth inch. I checked the latch and it's latched correctly.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2012 at 10:16AM
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jocobe

Take a pic of the side jamb, above the lower sash; I'd like to see what type balances are on this window. Balances, that keep the upper sash at the top of the frame, can either be replaced or adjusted.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2012 at 5:32PM
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Melissa Redick

jocobe, would that be like my second picture, but higher up? It looks the same all the way up and I can't see any type of balances. If this is the part you need I can snap another pic, but I just want to be sure I get what you need to see. Thanks!

    Bookmark   January 19, 2012 at 7:07PM
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jocobe

Yes, higher up. Typically there is a spiral balance in the channel of the jambliner.....it looks like a round tube. If the windows tilt the balance might be in the edge of the window sash. In that case it is a block and tackle or channel balance. Spiral balances can be adjusted for tension. Channel balances are usually replaced.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2012 at 8:01PM
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Melissa Redick

I'm not exactly sure I follow, but here is a picture higher up.
Also while I was playing around, I opened the window and noticed if you look up while it's open there's a little white plastic piece in the track. I'm not sure if this has anything to do with anything or what it's function is... could this be what you were referring to? They are not tilt out though.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2012 at 8:52PM
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jocobe

Actually they look like they might tilt. The white thing is called the balance shoe. There is a pin on both sides at the bottom of the sash. The sash pivots on that pin. The balance shoe attaches to the balance. Above the lower sash there are covers on the jambliners that hide the balance. More then likely it's a spiral balance which can be tightened with a spiral balance tool.

Check this site out:

Here is a link that might be useful: Swisco

    Bookmark   January 19, 2012 at 9:49PM
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PRO
Windows on Washington Ltd

They do tilt, just need to be pulled forward.

The fact that they are latch properly and there is still a gap is indicative of the fact that they are most likely no longer useable.

The only scenario where they might still be okay is if the keepers on the lock and cam are bent which would allow the top window to sill drop down.

If not, the window is probably do for replacement or some serious supplemental weatherstripping.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2012 at 8:57AM
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Melissa Redick

I thought tilting windows had the two clips at each side of the lock that you slide in order for the window to tilt. At least that's the way my old windows worked. These don't seem to have the clips. I tried pulling the bottom part forward (gently), but it wasn't really budging and I wasn't sure how much pressure to use. I don't want to break anything.. yet.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2012 at 9:19AM
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GulfBreezeWindows

with the windows latched, can you push the two sashes up to close the gap?

    Bookmark   January 20, 2012 at 9:37AM
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Melissa Redick

Yes, if the window is latched I can push up the two sashes to close the gap, or I can push them both down at the same time to make the gap bigger. Also, if I close the latch and then push the top up and the bottom down simultaneously they stay in position...at least overnight. I'm not sure about longer.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2012 at 10:16AM
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PRO
Windows on Washington Ltd

The tilt function on those windows just requires a somewhat firm pull to the inside.

You can help your cause by pushing the vinyl jamb liners in a bit and pulling at the same time.

If the window is latched and maintains that gap, that is an issue and not one that can really be fixed with "tuning" of sorts.

If the keepers are not bent and the window has that big a gap, the home has settled or the window has shrunk...or both.

MW are not well regarded for making a real quality product.

As stated previous, you can put a bit of weatherstripping on both the top and the bottom to close the gap but that will not change the window not being the correct size any longer.

Trying to tighten the balance is likely more trouble that it is worth and I am near certain that they are not spiral balances in this case.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2012 at 11:05AM
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GulfBreezeWindows

So either you are replacing (sash or full window) or rigging it.

Figure some weather striping and possibly making wood brackets to hold the top sash in place (if you don't care about opening it.

That could get you by for a little while, although you should look into a permanent fix.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2012 at 1:05PM
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jocobe

Balances are cheap compared to the cost of a new window. If the balances are round tubes they can easily be adjusted if they are not broken. A channel balance (block and tackle) are square and can easily be replaced.

If you shim under the sash lock, not keeper, it will make the sashes spread further apart.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2012 at 3:39PM
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PRO
Windows on Washington Ltd

Fixing what though?

MW wood windows are notorious for falling apart over time. This is not a historic replacement and be 1/4" from closing is usually the tip of the iceberg.

Shimming a 1/4" under the cam lock is not a look that most are going for.

Can they be made to work passably, yes. Are they worth salvaging, usually not.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2012 at 11:13PM
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jocobe

MW windows are awful, I've repaired them but would never sell them to anyone.

In many instances homeowners may not wish to replace the windows for a number of reasons. They may not have the money or don't plan on staying in the house that long. Or they may want a short term fix.

The op would like to know how to remedy the drifting upper sashes and the answer to that is deal with the balances. A pair of spiral balances may cost $15.00-$20.00. If they are not broken more tension can be wound into them. No big deal.

Most window manufacturers make sash shims for either the lock or keeper. If they don't we use 1/16" plastic, color to match the hardware and cut it to the same profile. It's not noticeable.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2012 at 11:39PM
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HomeSealed

Jocobe, I think that you are misunderstanding the problem. The upper sash is not drifting, It stays up. The problem is that when the window is locked, there is still a gap. Balances have absolutely zero to do with this, as the materials have either shrunk, settled, etc to cause this as has been mentioned already.
Bottom line: the windows are due for replacement. To fix it for now (until budget permits replacement): either add a thin piece of wood to the sill or head, or add additional weatherstripping to one or both. You can buy stick-on foam bulb seal in rolls from the store that would probably do the trick for a while. Shimming the lock/keeper would be another option. Ultimately, what you are trying to do is fill in the frame to take up the "slop" that is present when you move the sashes up and down when they are locked together.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2012 at 11:34AM
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toddinmn

I agree with Homesealed, do not shim the lock. Shimming on the header is preffered over the sill. Make sure the weather stripping is not missing as this could cause the window to be to short.Check the weather stripping at top of upper sash, the bottom of the lower sash and at the meeting rails.I usually use wodd panneling 1/16 th inch thick ripped to 1-3/8 wide and shim under the upper sash only, I try to get it under the tracks if there is a gap there as well. Keep stacking shims as needed.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2012 at 11:59AM
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PRO
Windows on Washington Ltd

+2

All of said repairs should be completed with the mind set of likely be temporary repairs as well.

That is my only point in this discussion.

Fixing and restoring a Duesenberg, well worth the effort and time.

Restoring a 1985 Honda Civic with 200K on the odometer, probably not as wise and investment.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2012 at 2:06PM
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