How to repair old double wooden windows

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s: I live on a farmhouse from the 1980’s with original wood non-tilt double hung windows. I was lifting the lower sash to let fresh air in when I heard a loud noise, like a metal spring breaking, and the heavy sash collapsing. I’m lucky I still have toes! Some other windows screeching loudly and hard to open. The upper windows didn’t seem to move at all. The identification number on the windows is MW 1-80. The windows look very good for their age – no leaking, fogging or rotting of the wood – although the windows always stay in the shade. Wood trim is stained, not painted. How can I solve this problem?

a: Perhaps that noise I heard was like springtime. Antique double hung windows used rope and steel weights to balance the sash (framed moving window sections) so they could be left open without the risk of closing. But this left relatively large air gaps near the rollers, so modern windows – including those made in the 1980s – usually rely on spring scales that fit tightly into the struts (side tracks).

Replacing most types of spring scales is easy, requiring only a screwdriver or sometimes just a twisting motion of your hand. But some types of stocks do not come out easily; You actually need to destroy the old mechanisms to remove the connections and install the new ones. And there is a whole problem with finding replacement parts because spring scales come in dozens of different types. Some are still available; Others are not. Even if replacements are available, the manufacturer may be different so the part numbers don’t match.

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There are two ways to proceed. The simplest option is to contact a company that repairs windows and leave the rest to them. Full Service Glass in Manassas (703-530-9124;
) to your home with a technician to inspect the window and determine if it can be fixed. If possible, the company will then try to find replacement credits and give you an estimate of the cost. The company charges a minimum of $150 to $180 per visit but waives the initial visit fee if you can’t find a replacement part or if you go ahead with repair work. However, you may need to pay it if the company is tracking a replacement part but you are not hiring them to do the work. Replacement credits vary in cost from about $25 to $125.

Or you can try to do the repair yourself. In this case, start by contacting the manufacturer, if possible, to find out what spare parts you need. Some windows have no identification tags, while others are clearly marked with the manufacturer’s name, or have letters and numbers in the corner. Window providers or searching online can help you decipher these codes.

The MW symbol on your Windows is a symbol for the MW manufacturers in Rocky Mount, Virginia. MW was sold to Ply Gem Industries (

) in 2004 but still operates as a division of that company.

Karlana Barnes, field service coordinator for Ply Gem Windows, said MW used two types of balancing mechanisms on double-hung wood windows with non-tilted joints in the 1980s. If you’re lucky, you have the kind where you can extract the lower sash by pushing it up and then laterally far enough into the strut on one side to release the other. (First remove the strut covers and pull the ejection clips.) Then you should be able to see and extract the balancing mechanisms. Watch YouTube tutorials on replacing spring window scales to get an idea of ​​some of the ways these balances appear.

If you can’t extract strokes by pushing them aside, Barnes said, you have a more complex window pattern. You will need to unscrew the narrow wooden barriers on the sides and top, fold the balancing mechanisms in half, and break them.

MW switched window styles circa 1993 and no longer holds any kind of balance. Barnes recommends calling Blaine’s window repair service in Silver Spring. (301-565-4949;
) or Strybuc Industries of Philadelphia (800-352-0800;
). Both companies have a wide range of window parts, including dozens of spring scales, and help customers determine the parts they need.

If redemption credits are not available, you have two options: leave the window as it is and do not open it; order a sash replacement kit, which comes with new muscle liners and balancing mechanisms, as well as a new sash; Or order a new window, the most expensive option ever.

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