Are you struggling with a window that is difficult to open or close? The problem may be with your window balance. Window balances play an important role in window function, so when a window balance breaks, opening or closing a window can become a near impossible task. Luckily, as long as you know how to replace a window balance, you can have your windows opening and shutting again with ease. The checklist below can help you diagnose the potential issue and walk you through the steps needed to replace a window balance.
What Is a Window Balance?
A window balance, also known as a “window balancer” or “spring balance,” is a mechanical device that allows you to raise and lower otherwise heavy windows with relative ease. Usually consisting of a spring-loaded metal rod, a window balance is typically located in the side of the window frame.
Window balances work by supporting the weight of a window sash. When the window is opened, the rod expands and provides counterbalance to the weight of the sash. As the window sash is lowered, the window balance helps to support its weight.
In single hung windows, where the bottom sash is operable and the top sash is fixed in place, the window balance helps to counterbalance the weight of the bottom sash, making it easier to open and close the window. Window balances also help to prevent the window from accidentally slamming shut.
When Should You Replace a Window Balance?
If your window is extremely difficult to open, or completely jammed shut, don’t rush out to replace the window just yet. The problem may well be in the window balance.
Over time the spring in the window balance can become worn or broken. If this happens, the window can become difficult — if not impossible — to open and close. Thankfully, it’s fairly easy to replace a window balance. If you’re not confident with home repairs, it may be smart to call in a window expert to take care of the job for you. But if you’re a fairly handy homeowner, you shouldn’t have too much trouble replacing your window balance yourself.
How to Replace a Window Balance
- Check for stops. Stops are the plastic or metal pieces that snap into the window frame to stop the window sash from rising too high. If you have a window with stops, grab them and pull them from the frame.
- Remove the takeout clips. Takeout clips will be located about six to eight inches above the window sash. If you can’t pull them out with your fingers, use a flathead screwdriver to loosen and remove the clips. (Tip: Some older windows may use screws instead of takeout clips. If your window uses screws, loosen them by rotating them counterclockwise once or twice with a screwdriver. Do not remove the screws completely.)
- Lift the window sash. As you lift, look for the spring balances that will be visible under the sides of the windows. You’ll also feel the weight of the window sash as you lift. Keep lifting the sash until you can carefully release and remove it from the frame. Set the sash aside.
- Push on the spring balances to release them from their clips. The larger the window, the larger the springs, so be careful during removal. Set the spring balances aside.
- Lay out your window balance to take measurements. Measure the balance to obtain width and height measurements. Plastic attachments at the top and bottom of the channel should not be included in your measurements.
- Purchase a new balance that equals the measurements above.
- Once you have your new window balance, insert the hook at the bottom of your replacement balance into the window frame by simultaneously pushing down on the spring to increase tension and swinging the top toward the window frame. Keep pushing until you’re able to hook the top of the window balance to the clip (or screw) in the window frame.
- Replace the sash.
- Test the replacement by trying to raise and lower your window frame several times. If you’ve installed the window balance correctly, the sash should engage with the window balancers, and your window should open and close with ease once again.
- Once you’ve confirmed your window balance replacement was successful, wrap your repair up by replacing the window stops in the frame when necessary, and closing the window.
If you already know how to replace a window balance and are still experiencing problems with your windows, or if you have trouble with any of the steps above, American Window Company is here to help. We are a small, family-owned business that is committed to providing excellent workmanship and on-time installation of high-quality windows, doors, shutters, blinds, and more. For a free estimate or more information about our products and services, please contact us today.