How to free up old windows


  #1  
Old 12-16-21, 04:51 PM
T
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: orlando, fl
Posts: 184
Upvotes: 0
Received 0 Upvotes on 0 Posts
How to free up old windows

I have three sash windows on our bungalow that date back to the 50s - they're not the usual type with the rope and pulley, but the type with springs.

Over the years they have been painted over so many times that they're jammed shut, and I've been led to believe that I can cut through and into the gap between the frame and window with an oscillating tool. Can anyone give me any tips or suggestions on how to go about it - what kind of blade, etc? I hunted around on Youtube hoping for some kind of guide, but no luck so far.

Thanks
 

Top Answer

 
12-16-21, 07:36 PM
XSleeper's Avatar
XSleeper
XSleeper is online now
Group Moderator
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 27,237
Received 1,958 Upvotes on 1,755 Posts
Assuming you are referring to double hung windows... the usual culprit is that they were caulked and painted in... glued shut, in other words. It's not necessarily anything wrong with the ropes and pulleys or the spring balances.

Sometimes you can get them open just by cutting the joint with a utility knife. Lightly tapping with a block of wood and a hammer (the block of wood is to soften the blow and avoid denting the wood) on both the inside AND on the outside (since they were painted on both sides, both sides are stuck shut.) Other times, you just need to take a thin stiff putty knife and drive it into the crack between the sash and and stop. A glaziers knife is similar and might also work but they can also be a little too thick.

And on double hungs, it can be stuck in several places. On the inside where the interior stop meets the bottom sash. On the inside where the bottom sash drops below the window stool. On the outside where the bottom sash meets the sloped sill, or on the outside where the bottom sash meets the parting stop.

The top sash can be stuck the same way... on the inside to the outer part of the parting stop. On the inside where it laps over the bottom sash (called the meeting rail)... on the outside where it meets the blind stop. (the Top sash is sandwiched between the parting stop and the blind stop. The Bottom sash is sandwiched between the interior stop and the parting stop.)

Tapping the thin stiff putty knife with a hammer (using it like a chisel) will drive it into those spots that are glued together with paint. You are tapping toward the jamb... parallel to the sash... not perpendicular to the sash. Once you have freed up the entire perimeter inside AND outside, the sash will usually open freely. Once you get it to move, THEN you will be able to determine if any parts are bad or need lube.

Paraffin wax was often used to lubricate wood jambs to help them slide easier. But with loads of paint on them, they are often tight. Windows can be disassembled and stripped, if you want to go to that much effort. But the paint was often lead based. So its sometimes easier to just replace the parting stop and interior stops rather than strip them.

I don't think I'd recommend starting with an oscillating tool, since one slip with it and you're going to gouge and cut the wood. It's a little overly aggressive tool. Often, a putty knife and a tap with a hammer will just pop the dried paint right open.
 
  #2  
Old 12-16-21, 05:00 PM
PJmax's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Jersey
Posts: 65,646
Received 4,089 Upvotes on 3,672 Posts
A picture or two would be more of a help then us guessing what type of tool should be used.
How to insert pictures.
 
  #3  
Old 12-16-21, 07:36 PM
XSleeper's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 27,237
Received 1,958 Upvotes on 1,755 Posts
Assuming you are referring to double hung windows... the usual culprit is that they were caulked and painted in... glued shut, in other words. It's not necessarily anything wrong with the ropes and pulleys or the spring balances.

Sometimes you can get them open just by cutting the joint with a utility knife. Lightly tapping with a block of wood and a hammer (the block of wood is to soften the blow and avoid denting the wood) on both the inside AND on the outside (since they were painted on both sides, both sides are stuck shut.) Other times, you just need to take a thin stiff putty knife and drive it into the crack between the sash and and stop. A glaziers knife is similar and might also work but they can also be a little too thick.

And on double hungs, it can be stuck in several places. On the inside where the interior stop meets the bottom sash. On the inside where the bottom sash drops below the window stool. On the outside where the bottom sash meets the sloped sill, or on the outside where the bottom sash meets the parting stop.

The top sash can be stuck the same way... on the inside to the outer part of the parting stop. On the inside where it laps over the bottom sash (called the meeting rail)... on the outside where it meets the blind stop. (the Top sash is sandwiched between the parting stop and the blind stop. The Bottom sash is sandwiched between the interior stop and the parting stop.)

Tapping the thin stiff putty knife with a hammer (using it like a chisel) will drive it into those spots that are glued together with paint. You are tapping toward the jamb... parallel to the sash... not perpendicular to the sash. Once you have freed up the entire perimeter inside AND outside, the sash will usually open freely. Once you get it to move, THEN you will be able to determine if any parts are bad or need lube.

Paraffin wax was often used to lubricate wood jambs to help them slide easier. But with loads of paint on them, they are often tight. Windows can be disassembled and stripped, if you want to go to that much effort. But the paint was often lead based. So its sometimes easier to just replace the parting stop and interior stops rather than strip them.

I don't think I'd recommend starting with an oscillating tool, since one slip with it and you're going to gouge and cut the wood. It's a little overly aggressive tool. Often, a putty knife and a tap with a hammer will just pop the dried paint right open.
 
2john02458, Zorfdt voted this post useful.
  #4  
Old 12-17-21, 02:26 AM
M
Forum Topic Moderator
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: USA - N.E.Tn
Posts: 45,765
Received 868 Upvotes on 759 Posts
I don't think I'd recommend starting with an oscillating tool, since one slip with it and you're going to gouge and cut the wood. It's a little overly aggressive tool. Often, a putty knife and a tap with a hammer will just pop the dried paint right open.
I agree! I might use a utility knife to score the perimeter although tapping a stiff putty knife in at various points often does the trick. Once you get it somewhat loose take the putty knife under the sash on the exterior side and repeat along with prying upward.
 
  #5  
Old 12-17-21, 07:27 AM
johnam's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: USA
Posts: 1,870
Received 12 Upvotes on 11 Posts
  #6  
Old 12-18-21, 07:37 AM
F
Member
Join Date: May 2010
Location: USA
Posts: 523
Upvotes: 0
Received 49 Upvotes on 37 Posts
I once used the scissors jack from an import automobile to unstick a bathroom window that was being stubborn because of overpainting and humidity cycling. It might not be repeatable, and I might have got lucky that it turned loose before the wood busted from the force of the jack, but it did work that one time.
 
 

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
 
Ask a Question
Question Title:
Description:
Your question will be posted in: