How To Remove The Top Sash Of Single Hung Window

Ryan Womeldorf
by Ryan Womeldorf

The windows of our home are essential to keeping our home energy efficient throughout the year. Inefficient windows can really raise energy costs, create unwelcome drafts, and even compromise the safety of the entire home. But some of us haven’t given though to the windows outside of what curtains to use.

So, what do you do when your window sash is a problem? You can replace the broken part of the sash or the entire thing and replace it accordingly. You will need to pull the tilt lever until it clicks to remove the top sash. Then, to reinstall it, you will need to pivot the pins 2-3 inches above the clutch assembly.

While this seems overwhelming, this is a pretty easy job that you can do on your own. With this guide, you will have some general instructions to follow so that you can do the job correctly.

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What Is The Window Sash?

Before we can implement a change, it helps to know what the window sash is. This would be the part of the window that holds the framework around the glass, keeping it in place. It is possible that the window sashes have been fitted into the frame of the window, making it potentially immovable.

In most newer homes, windows will be of the sash variety. That can be an essential detail to know if you are planning on replacing your windows at some point in the near future. Still, you can probably get away with changing a single damaged sash.

Why Is A Window Sash Important?

The window sash is essential to both the durability and the construction of the window itself. Vinyl window sashes should be fusion-welded, multi-chambered, and reinforced. This is meant to prevent any kind of distortion over time.

A distorted sash can lead to a window that leaks and doesn’t lock the way that it is meant to. Not only that, it can compromise the structural reinforcements of the window itself. Implementing a new sash will restore that structural reinforcement and even give the window advanced strength against bowing, warping, and sagging.

Making Minor Adjustments

Keep in mind that not every minor issue requires a new sash or a total window replacement. It will take a little bit of work to determine what the issue is, but there can be a quick fix that can be far cheaper and less time-consuming.

For instance, minor adjustments are often what is needed to fix a stuck or uneven window. Investigate the problem a bit further before starting to remove anything or simply replacing the issue. In particular, the latter can be quite expensive, mostly when you could have avoided the replacement altogether.

Removing The Window Sash

First, you’ll want to raise separate the sash from the rest of the frame; give yourself around 4 inches to work with. When you have done this, look for the tilt lever (which is usually in the sash lock base) and pull it until it clicks.

Hold the lever until the latches of the sash clear the frame when you tilt it. Keep in mind that on single hung windows, the top sash is fixed into the structure itself and can’t be removed. In that instance, the entire frame will need to be replaced.

On other window types, you would tilt the sash into a horizontal position and rotate it until the pivot pins eventually clear the jambs. Then you can remove the sash altogether and replace it with a new, stronger unit.

Replacing The Window Sash

When you have correctly solved the problem, it is time to put the sash back into place. A good rule of thumb is to place the pivot pins 2-3 inches above the clutch assembly. Pivot either side of the sash upwards to give the pins a chance to clear the jamb carrier assembly. When you have started one, the other should slide in.

Make sure that the pivot pins are fully engaged before you move forward. Tilt the sash up, pull the tilt latches entirely and then hold them as you ease the sash into its proper place. Lastly, raise the top sash to the top of the frame.

Slipped Clutch Assembly

There may be an instance where you attempt to either remove or tilt the sash and the clutch assembly will slip. The two clutches are then no longer at the same height in their jamb track. Before replacing the sash, you will need to reset the slipped clutch.

To start, pick a clutch to reset. Measure the distance from the other clutch and mark that dimension on your jamb carrier where you’ll be performing the reset. Use a flathead screwdriver to rotate the clutch cam in the assembly; these are under high tension, holding it tightly.

Rotate the balance clutch to come into the open position and ensure that the cams are within 1/8 inch of one another, adjusting the height where needed.

Knowing You Have A Problem

The sashes are very important to the design of the window. This is why it is so vital to ensure that your window sashes are working correctly. If you’re having trouble opening and closing it, this could mean that you have some sort of alignment problem.

While minor adjustments can do the job, it may mean that you have to replace either the sash or the window entirely. Keep in mind the last window replacement you had, too. If it’s been a while, it might be a better investment to get all the new windows.

It’s a good idea to check the sash as frequently as every two to three months to ensure that there are no issues. By doing this, you can catch a problem early to fix it so that it doesn’t cause more issues down the road.

Aluminum Windows

A lot of older homes will have aluminum windows. These were popular in the 1960s, particularly though homeowners have moved away from them because the aluminum will oxidize over time. Not only that, aluminum windows will have condensation and sweating on the inside of the glass panes.

With today’s vinyl windows, there is no comparison. Vinyl is not only tough enough to stand up to just about any type of weather (like the heat from the sun), they are superior in just about every way to aluminum windows from the past.

Wood Windows

Conversely, some older homes have wood windows. Those can experience issues with rotting, swelling, and shrinking. This damages the windows and makes them less efficient for your home. There are other things (like a drip edge on your roof) that can help combat this to some degree. When there is swelling and shrinking, that makes it quite challenging to move the windows at all.

Vinyl windows can provide a look that is similar to wood with all of the benefits that modern vinyl can offer. Even better, these are low maintenance windows, meaning you shouldn’t have to deal with them much between replacements.

Replacement Sashes Are A Temporary Fix

If you come to the point where you need to replace a sash, doing so is a fine remedy, but it shouldn’t be a permanent one. You can get away with a new sash confidently for maybe a few years but should consider replacing the windows after the initial replacement.

This is because your windows are designed to fit a specific construction. By implementing a replacement sash, you run the risk of lower efficiency and overall safety. From the point of sash replacement, think about replacing your windows entirely within the next few years.

Also, double and triple check your work on the sash. The last thing you want is to go through the hassle of changing it out only to run into the same issues because it was installed improperly.

Replacing Your Windows Entirely

Replacement sashes can certainly work for a while, but it is probably a good idea to get new windows in the near future. This is in order to maximize the energy-efficiency and improve performance over the life of the windows.

While the upfront costs may seem unappealing, you can start to see some of that money coming back to you in lowered energy bills. And besides security, getting the best efficiency out of your windows is of the utmost importance.

Related Questions

Can double hung windows be repaired?

If your window keeps falling shut and it’s double-hung, you may have to prop it open to keep this from happening. Although this is not a long-term fix. You can always try to repair this yourself before seeking the help from a specialist.

How do you remove an old window sash frame?

You will need to pry the sash loose and break the paint seal by using a putty knife. You will need to insert the knife between the rails and then lift the sash to remove it. You will then need to swing the lower sash where the stop was removed to access the rope on the side.

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Wrapping Up The Job

The window sash helps with the durability and the overall structure of your window. If you have a sash that needs replaced, you need to do this as soon as possible. By following this guide, you will be able to replace it, making it, so your window is fully functional and stable.
Ryan Womeldorf
Ryan Womeldorf

Ryan Womeldorf has more than a decade of experience writing. He loves to blog about construction, plumbing, and other home topics. Ryan also loves hockey and a lifelong Buffalo sports fan.

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