Having Trouble Opening & Shutting Your Windows? Try These Maintenance Tips

Skywalker Windows and Siding

Windows are a wonderful way to let in some natural light to brighten up your living space or workspace, and they also give you a helpful eye to the outside world around you. Windows also play important roles in the quality of your home’s energy efficiency, as well as its curbside appearance. While some windows are fixed by design, others are meant to have the ability to be opened and closed. But what happens when your operable windows are no longer operable?

Windows That Are Designed to Open & Close, and What Happens When They Don’t

Large picture windows or other fixed window designs certainly have their place, but it’s also nice to have some windows which can be opened to let in fresh air, or to give you more emergency escape options. Most every home plan includes some operable window designs, like double-hung, single-hung, casement, awning, or slider windows. Here’s a brief look at how each of these window types works:

1. Double-Hung and Single-Hung

Double-hung windows are the most common type used in America, and they include top-and-bottom rectangular windows which can be raised or lowered vertically. Single-hung windows work the same way, except that only the bottom window is designed to be operable. The most cause of problems with opening and closing usually revolves around a build-up of dust or dirt.

2. Casement and Awning

These windows are mounted on hinges, and the windows are typically operated by a crank. Casement windows have their hinges on the sides, while awning windows are hinged at the top. Since there are more operating parts with these types of windows, there can be more than one factor which may affect the ease of opening and closing. The first places you should check are the crank mechanism and the hinges upon which each window swings.

3. Sliders

Sliders work exactly how they sound – they slide horizontally, usually with the help of ball bearings or some other low-friction design. If your sliders aren’t sliding well, they may be some sort of obstruction on the sliding track itself. The easiest way to inspect the moving mechanism of a slider is to start by removing the window sash for full access.

Other Common Issues That Can Affect Operable Windows

Sometimes the problem with your moving window isn’t identified by following the basic troubleshooting suggestions mentioned above. If you’ve taken an initial look at your window and still aren’t sure why it isn’t opening and closing smoothly, here are some other issues that may be at play where your windows are concerned:

1. Shifts in Your Building Foundation

Home and business building foundations can and sometimes do settle over time, based in large part upon the geology, geography, and weather patterns of your particular area. If your foundation has done some shifting, then that can place undue pressure on your window frames. If the frames get out of alignment, then the window sash channels won’t line up properly either. This can cause windows to stick; in worse cases, you may have some windows which don’t open or close at all.

2. Warped Frames

Warping is a common threat for wooden window frames in particular. If your waterproof seal becomes compromised, moisture can infiltrate and cause the window frame to swell or warp. This can make the window very difficult to operate. Once this happens, the windows and/or frames can remain distorted even after the wood dries out.

3. Obstructions

Obstructions in the window track aren’t just an issue for slider windows; this is really a potential issue for any moving window. Some obstructions may not be obvious or clearly visible at first glance, so you may have to inspect a little more closely before you’re able to locate the problem.

4. Corrosion

Regardless of which window frame material you choose, the hardware and any other working mechanisms are likely to be made of metal. Metal that’s exposed directly to moisture can become corroded over time, and this corrosion can lead to windows which stick. Lubrication usually helps to some degree, but in some cases the metal features (or the window itself) will simply need to be replaced.

5. Damaged Window or Frame

If your window or window frame has become damaged due to weather, debris, or other impacts, then replacing the window may be your only viable option in order to get everything moving again.

Some Proactive Window Maintenance Tips

Many home and business owners don’t tend to give their windows much thought on a regular basis, apart from cleaning the glass every so often. As long as you haven’t noticed any obvious problems, you’re likely to assume that your windows are fine! But if you want to keep your moving windows operating smoothly and efficiently, then the best time to show them a little TLC is before any problem arises. Regular maintenance is the best way to ensure your windows will open and close when you need them, and is also a smart move for extending the life of your windows investment. Here are a few recommendations from Pella, one of the most-respected names in the window manufacturing industry:

1. Inspect your windows annually

There are many areas of your home which are beneficial to inspect at least once a year, and your windows should definitely be included on your annual inspection list. You should look for any leaks, cracks in the paint or material, chips, sealant cracks or breaks, other imperfections, or problems with window hardware or moving mechanisms.

2. Pay close attention to your window caulking

The sealant or caulking around your windows is essential for helping to maintain a watertight and energy-efficient system. Any cracks or missing portions of sealant need to be fixed, filled, or replaced immediately. Even a small amount of water infiltration can eventually result in permanent damage. Pay special attention to corners and the areas between windows.

3. Look for any imperfections in the wood finish

Wood windows can be beautiful, but they also require more maintenance than vinyl windows. With wooden windows, you should carefully inspect both the exterior and interior finishes for any peeling, cracking, or other issues. Depending upon what you find, it may be time to refinish the wood surfaces. Failure to do so on a regular basis can lead to bigger, much more expensive problems down the road.

4. Clean and lubricate your window tracks

Clean window panes are important for visibility, but clean window tracks are even more important for functionality. Start by cleaning the tracks with a dry brush. The right vacuum cleaner attachment can be a very helpful tool for removing dust, dirt, and debris. Once the tracks are all clear, applying some oil-free lubricant to the weatherstripping and window tracks can also help to ensure smooth window operation.

5. Check the fit of your windows

This one may sound counterintuitive. Your windows fit when they were put in, didn’t they? Hopefully so, but over time the fit of your windows can change, thanks to exposure to the elements, temperature swings and cycles, building settling and general wear-and-tear from regular window usage. A bad window fit will result in poor performance in terms of window operability, as well as energy efficiency.

Skywalker Is Here to Help with Your Window Repair and Replacement Needs

While it’s wise to clean and inspect your windows yourself on a regular basis, there are some things a trained professional can pinpoint which you might not notice, or know how to address on your own. Enter the pros at Skywalker Windows & Siding! If you’re located within our NC or VA service areas, we’d be glad to come out for a FREE home or business inspection and consultation. We’ll sit down with you to listen, and to objectively discuss any issues that we discover. If it turns out that window replacement is something you should consider, we can help you find the best solution to meet both your needs AND your budget.

You may be familiar with Skywalker thanks to our roofing expertise, but we also provide several other valuable home and business improvement services, including windows, siding, custom gutters, and much more! If you’re looking for an award-winning, manufacturer-authorized, trusted local provider to take care of your needs? Skywalker is the name you can trust!

We’re proud to serve the NC Piedmont Triad, Piedmont Triangle, Charlotte Metro/Lake Norman region, and Roanoke, VA areas. More importantly, NOBODY beats our level of professionalism, workmanship, and personalized customer service! Reach out to us today at (336) 265-9595, and give us a chance to show you the Skywalker difference!

Luke Wilson

Luke Wilson

Owner - Skywalker Windows and Siding

Luke Wilson started working on roofs with his dad when he was a teenager, and eventually launched Skywalker Roofing in 2003. Skywalker operates in 5 locations across NC & VA, and now includes windows, siding, and other exterior services. Luke also hosts the popular Roofing Mythbusters series on YouTube.


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