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Replacing Window Sash Cords

Materials List
Sash cord or sash chain
Oval head screws
Small nails or brads
Tools List (click item to shop)
Utility knife
Putty knife
Thin flat bar
Drill bits
Interior Paint Calculator
Window Basics
Applying Temporary Weatherstripping
Applying Permanent Weatherstripping
Prepping for Interior Painting

IMPORTANT: Read this before you start

Windows are the eyes to the home's soul. Keeping your windows attractive and in good working order will only add value to your residence.

Older double-hung windows use cotton cords and counter weights to help lift and lower the window sashes. Over time, the sash cords can deteriorate from sun, dirt and layers of paint. When one cords breaks, it is time replace the cords on both sides. Replacing both will ensure that the window is balanced equally on both sides.

Skill Level & Time To Complete
• Beginner - 60 to 90 minutes
• Intermediate - 45 to 60 minutes
• Advanced - 30 to 45 minutes

Old windows may be painted or wedged into position. Try to carefully dislodge them to avoid breaking the sashes or glass.

Common Mistakes
When removing trim and other window components, try not to damage or scar the wood. You will be reinstalling it.

Helpful Tips
Even if only one sash cord is frayed or broken, replace the sash cords on both sides of a window. This will ensure that the window will slide with equal resistance and save you from having to replace the other sash cord in the near future.

When painting windows, avoid getting paint on sash cords. Paint will harden them, shortening their usability and preventing smooth operation of the window.

1. Remove the 2 stops on either side of the window. These 2 strips of wood create the track that the lower window sash slides in. Start by using a utility knife to cut through any paint that binds the window stop to the window casing or frame.
2. Then gently shove a stiff putty knife between the stop and frame to gently pry it off. Try not to damage the wood.
3. Slide the lower window to the top of the frame. Many older windows have a metal track that holds the sash in place. Carefully remove any small nails or screws that hold the metal in place.
4. Once the metal tracks are loose on both sides, the lower window should freely swing away from the frame.
5. Carefully unhook the sash cords that are still attached and allow them to pull up to the pulleys.
6. There is a thin strip of wood that separates the 2 window sashes. Carefully pry out the strips on both sides. Generally it is wedged into place, however there may be a few small nails used to secure it.
7. On either side of the window frame you should see the panels that cover the weight pocket. Remove the screws that hold them in place. Remove the panels. Remove the weights and untie the old sash cords.

Tie a small weight to the end of a string and feed it through the pulley, dropping it down through the weight pocket opening. Tie a new piece of sash cord to the string and pull it from the top through the pulley. Tie the sash cord to the counter weight.

Set the window sash on the windowsill. Pull the sash cord so the weight is almost at the top of the pocket. Cut the sash cord about 3 inches below the notch that the knot locks into. Tie a knot at the end of the cord. Repeat this on the other side of the window frame.

If you are planning to replace the sash cords on the upper window, remove the upper window and install new sash cords by sliding the upper window down and then following the window removal and sash cord replacements steps above. Replace the upper sash now by setting it on the sill and wedging the sash cord knots into the notches on either side of the window. Reinstall the metal tracks using small nails or brads.

8. Replace the weight pocket panels and strips that separate the windows. Use 2 screws to secure each parting strip in place.
9. Set the lower window on the sill and wedge the cords on both sides into the notches on the sides of the window. Swing the window into place along with the metal tracks.
10. When you replace the window stops, consider using oval head screws and trim washers. This will enable you to more easily disassemble the window for maintenance in the future. Set the stops in place and drill holes for 3 or 4 screws on both sides. Install screws and washers.



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