Double Hung Window Won't Stay Up? (We Have A Fix)

Ossiana Tepfenhart
by Ossiana Tepfenhart

Double hung replacement windows are designed with sturdiness in mind. They are meant to allow ventilation up top, at the bottom, or in both areas. They are the most popular type of window for smaller rooms, but they are not without flaws. They are known for having a problem staying closed, especially with heavier models. So, what can you do with your windows?

A falling double hung window means that your balance shoe is a sign of a broken, unbalanced, or missing balance shoe. To get your double hung window ot stay open, you will need to check the tilt pin, make sure that it fits in the shoe, check the shoe’s position, unlock it, and then screw it closed. If it’s broken, you need to replace it.

Fixing a slippery double hung window is usually pretty easy. In order to do it right, you may need to understand a couple more details about this part. We’ve included all the information you need to know to fix your double hung window that won’t stay up.

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What Is A Balance Shoe?

A balance shoe is the locking mechanism that keeps your frames in place. This is usually found at the bottom of the slipped frame. These “shoes” are what help you keep windows up and are meant to help you keep your window from having a sudden slam.

Do All Double Hung Windows Have A Balance Shoe?

For the most part, any modern windows that are being used on a house’s exterior will have a balance shoe. In the past, double hung windows would occasionally have mechanisms that have their windows open separately for both the top half and bottom half. These windows usually used chains or locks to keep them open.

If You Have An Older Double Hung Window…

If you have an archaic type of double hung window, then you probably won’t have a balance shoe on it. Moreover, you probably aren’t having the problem of having your windows fall shut. Rather, you might have a harder time keeping them from opening all the way. Or, you might have a hard time keeping them shut.

Sounds like what you’re dealing with? If so, you will need to refer to a different guide to get your windows to stay put. In most cases, this just means getting a new locking mechanism or just adjusting the chains or revamping the lock. If this has been an ongoing issue or you’ve noticed that your window has a draft, it may be a good idea to switch it for a better model.

Understanding How To Lock Your Balance Shoe

If you’re new to double hung windows, you might not be aware of how to properly use them. You can’t just slide up the window and hope for the best. You need to be able to lock your windows into place. If you haven’t done this yet, you should give it a try. In many situations, this is the only actual fix you’ll need.

You’re going to want to inspect your balance shoe. When it’s in a lock position, you’ll see it have a “U” shape within it. When unlocked, it’s a “C” shape. Now that you know how to tell if it’s unlocked, give it a try. If it’s unlocked, just lock your double hung window and it should be good.

Fixing An Unbalanced Balance Shoe

Ready to make sure your windows stay in place? Follow these instructions to make it happen:

  • Find the shoe balance, then take a look at the tilt pin. If the tilt pin can’t fit in your balance shoe, you will need to order a new balance shoe and replace it. If it can, proceed to the next step.
  • Rotate your balance shoe to an unlocked position. You can do this with your fingernails, or a flathead screwdriver. Either way, you will need to make sure to keep your balance shoe properly screwed in.
  • Guide your balance shoe up to the general area of the disconnected sash. You only need a couple of inches of space to make this happen. Lock your shoe back into place once it’s high up.
  • Slide your balance shoe back into place. Check to make sure that you can engage your tilt pin and lock it back into place.
  • Test it out a couple of times. Open your window to varying levels near the sash. If it stays up after a couple of knocks on your window, you should be good to go.

Should You Replace It?

If you don’t have a balance shoe that’s working, then you may need to run to the Home Depot and find a balance shoe that’s compatible with your window model. From there, just unscrew the old balance shoe and install the new one. If you can’t figure out which balance shoe will work, then you should consider getting a handyman to help you out.

Should You Hire A Handyman To Fix It?

That would just be silly if you have a working balance shoe. Since you only need a flathead screwdriver to do this fix, there’s no reason to avoid a DIY repair. The only time you need to get someone else to do it is if you have to replace your balance shoe and you can’t figure out which model will work for you.

Replacing A Balance Shoe

If you need to replace your balance shoe before you continue the previous fix then this mini how-to guide is for you. The tools that you will need are:

  • A #2 Philips Head Screwdriver
  • New Window Balance Shoe


  • Remove the double-hung window. First, you will need to pop out both takeout clips at a 45-degree angle. Then, you will need to locate the sash stops and remove those out of the frame before you can slide the sash up. When you’ve removed these, slide the window up until you feel it catch on the take out clips. When the top is aligned with where the sash stops used to be, move the window to one side to get it out of the frame.
  • Locate the balance shoe. Turn the sash on its side to find the balance shoe. You will then need to remove the screw that’s holding the screw and then remove the balance shoe.
  • Install the new balance shoe. Align the hole for the new balance shoe with the screw hole, and connect it by screwing the balance shoe in with a screw, using your Philips Head screwdriver. Don’t tighten it too tight or you will end up breaking the plastic.
  • Reinstall the sash. Put the sash above the balancer, and wiggle it back and forth until both of the top sides catch. Slowly slide down the sash.
  • Install the sash stops and push in the takeout clips. You will then need to replace the sash stops, and put the take out clips back into the position.
  • Test your window. Open your window and make sure it functions how it is supposed to before you call it a day. If you’re still having issues, check that you’ve installed the sash the right way.

How Much Should This Repair Cost?

We all have heard scary stories of window repair costs, but this isn’t going to be one of them. If you have a working (but unbalanced) balance shoe, then you will be able to do this free of charge assuming you have a flathead screwdriver. If you need to replace it, then a typical balance shoe set will run about $5 to $15, depending on the model.

People who want to go to a handyman to get help with their repairs will also have to tack on an additional $30 to $40 for replacement services. So, even if you want to go to a pro for this project, you will not have to worry about having too much of an issue paying for it.

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Our Final Take

Double hung windows can be a serious pain, but that doesn’t mean that you should give up on them. If you have a window that won’t stay open after you lift it up, then you just need to take a look at the balance shoe. In most cases, adjusting the lock with a screwdriver and jiggling the tip pin will give you good results. Can you feel the fresh air already?

This fix is a great thing to know if you’re brand new to owning double hung windows, and it’s one that even newbies can do on their own. You don’t need any special tools to fix a broken balance shoe, nor should you expect the entire endeavor to take more than 10 minutes. This is true, even if you have to replace the balance shoe.

Of course, some folks will always want to have their fixes done or explained by a pro. That’s totally okay, even if it’s not necessary. A fix for most double hung windows will cost at least $30 for a typical handyman to do. Even then, they will probably give you a quick tutorial on how to fix it should your window shut again.

Ossiana Tepfenhart
Ossiana Tepfenhart

Ossiana Tepfenhart is an expert writer, focusing on interior design and general home tips. Writing is her life, and it's what she does best. Her interests include art and real estate investments.

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