best window balances

Old 05-09-05, 08:58 PM
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best window balances

I have read alot of great advice in this forum. I am also a member in the This Old House forum. I haven't got much of an answer to this question so since I am now a member I will ask about this here.

I know there are many window manufacturers and different levels of quality from all companies.

I'd like to know what the best window balances are in replacement windows.
Window balances are the little mechanisms that help open the window and to help keep it open.

I know that some are called "block and tackle' which I have seen in Pella and Marvin. Some are called spiral balances and some are called "constant force balances". I have read that the constant force balance is the newest design and seem to hold up the best. But I don't always believe what I read.

I do have some windows in my home that have constant force balances. They are like tiny tape measures that have a stainless steel band that winds up when the window is open, then retracts when it is closed. The trouble that I have is that this system rides in track and when dirt gets in the track the window opens and closes hard. I have cleaned it and that helped but it looks as though the dirt got pressed into the vinyl track and it won't come completely clean.

Any comments?

Old 05-10-05, 05:19 AM
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Spiral balances are junk. Having installed windows for years, and having replaced hundreds of spiral balances, I know this to be true.

Block and tackle balances work well. I have rarely had to replace one, and when I have, it's been because the cord was rubbing on something sharp due to the window being pinched in the middle. You shouldn't have problems with these due to dirt, since you don't have metal-on-metal or any parts that need lubrication or cleaning.

Constant force balances work like ball bearings when they are new. I have not experienced any problems with dirt in them, but I can see how that might be a problem. Of the three, I think this one is the most effortless to operate if they stay clean, but the block and tackle balances should be less maintenance.

I would suggest cleaning your constant force balances with silicone spray and a clean cloth- wiping them down a couple times a year when you wash your windows.

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