Here's a shot of a problem counter balancing system. Note: You can click on all photos to enlarge them.
My 100 year old house has old and new windows. The 100 year old windows have "sash weights"— heavy weights attached to cords inside the window frames with cords that go over pulleys at the top of the frame. A few of these have broken cords, which would mean taking the window frame apart. This article is not about fixing them.
The new windows on the second floor though, were replaced by the previous home owners. They replaced them with Anderson Double Hung windows (double hung means they have 2 moving sashes, a top and bottom sash).
These might be about 15 years old? I don't really know, but they have a different mechanism for counter balancing the sash. At first sight it is not obvious how to fix these things, but I was able to find a good PDF online that explained the whole process in detail (see top PDF). I'm not sure how many windows work like these now, but perhaps your windows are similar, even if they are not Anderson, or of the same vintage.
Are Your Windows Under Warranty?
First check though to see if your windows are under warranty. I didn't bother with mine, as I'm fairly sure they are out of warranty, and we were not the original purchasers. If they are, you can schedule a service call to have them fixed for free, or at least the part might be free, and you'd pay for service. You'll typically need to have proof of purchase date, for warranties to be honored.
Here's How to Replace the Counter Balance Springs on Anderson Double Hung Windows. To be specific, these are the replacement steps for: Anderson Perma-sheild Narroline Double-Hung windows. If you don't have these types of Anderson windows, you might find your Anderson window replacement balance parts here on the Anderson website.
Shown above is the side of the window. You can see that the upper sash does not stay up and both cords (there's one for the upper sash and one for the lower sash) are slack and do not recoil into the window as they are supposed to. Note: You can click on photos to enlarge them.
Here's the "sash counter balance" unit we are going to replace. There's one of these boxes concealed in the upper left and upper right top of the window frame. When working properly, the cords should retract into the box. This box has been corroded by water damage I believe. What follows is how to get at that box.
Now I apologize, but I don't have the very first photo of the window intact. This photo shows after removing from the vinyl piece that was covering what is shown in the picture as wood. After you remove all of the screws (see photo below too for removing the top 2 screws) you can remove the vinyl "jamb liner" as it is called, by flexing it slightly at the bottom and sliding it down (have both sashes in the upper most position when you do this).
There are 2 screws at the top of the jamb liner that can only be removed when you have both window sashes have been lowered all the way down.
With the jamb liner removed, and both sashes in the lowered position, you will be able to swing the inner most sash out of the window frame.
Looking a the side of the pulled out sash, you will see a recess in the side of the sash, where the cord is anchored by a plastic tube piece. Grab hold of the cord, to take the tension, and pull the end of the cord out of the sash. Do not let go of the cord suddenly, as it is under high tension and doing so could case injury, and or counter balance unit damage. Gently let the cord retract and release (see photos below). Do the same with the other side. Only one of my sash balancers was frozen (the right side), so it of course is no longer under any tension, as it doesn't retract). Repeat the same steps for the upper sash.
Here's the cord out of the sash.
Here are the cords on the working side, fully retracted into the top of the window frame.
Here are the cords on the non-working side, not retracting into the top of the window frame.
Remove the "head jamb liner" screws, and then bend it slightly and pull downwards to remove it. This will expose the 2 sash balancer units. This view is from the outside of the house, as I was able to work from a roof just below.
My head jamb liner was stuck toward the inside edge. I ended up having to pry it down with a screwdriver. Be careful not to damage this piece though.
And here is the culprit. This box is not retracting the sash cords as it should be.
Remove the staple holding it in. I was surprised that their was just one. Your model might have screws to remove instead. Then simply pull the balancer out.
As shown before. Here's the box removed.
And here's with the end of the unit pried open to see what was inside. There's a coiled spring, that seems to be lined with rubber. When working properly, the spring should uncoil and wrap the cord around it, and helping to lift the window sash.
That's all the photos I have for now, as I've not put the new boxes in yet. I did order the Anderson sash balancers at Home Depot. I brought the old, none-working box in and they were able to make a phone call, read off the number on the box, and order a new box. They do not stock these items. I also couldn't find any local Anderson dealers that stock these, as their seem to be too many variations to make it worthwhile to keep all of them on hand.
Ideally you would also bring with you any information that is etched into the corner of the window glass. As there are codes there that help identify your particular replacement unit.
I actually ordered 2, as I figured I might as well replace both while the boxes were accessible. I was surprised to find that each unit was only $14.00. I expect to pay more for everything these days. The order took about 5 business days to come in.
I picked them up today. I'll shoot them and show the install, although all you do is reverse the steps of course, so maybe nothing more is needed--Peter
My Standard Disclaimer: This is what I did. This does not mean this is the best way, the right way, to building code, or even safe for your needs. So you are on your own with your project. I make no promises about the information presented here. I'm just a do-it-yourselfer, not a professional at all, sharing my story. So if something goes wrong with your project, you are on your own. Good luck, and have fun!
All content and photos, copyright 2009, Dover Projects.
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