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Do It Yourself: Casement Window Repair Tips
If you're thinking about replacing your casement windows because they're drafty, fogged up or just hard to open, consider this: You can fix most of the problems yourself for a fraction of the cost of new windows, and it won't take you more than an hour or two per window.
Windows are often trouble spots. Along with doors, windows are the major source of heat loss in most homes. They also may stick shut when they're painted or swell shut from humidity. Inside, shades and Venetian blinds may not work right; glass gets broken, and screens get torn. In this article, we'll walk you through the fixes for the most common casement window glass problems. (Casement windows are the type that swing like doors.) You won't need any specialty tools, and the materials are available from most window manufacturers or online window supply companies.
Repair your casement windows yourself instead of waiting a week for the repair guy. One cost benefit for homeowners is to make small repairs around the house. Repairing a casement window is a simple beginner's do-it-yourself project. Gather the necessary tools and fix the broken casement window.
Although your windows may look different from the ones shown here, the techniques for removing the sash and fixing problems are similar.
A casement window is one with a hinged sash that swings in or out like a door.
A casement window is usually made of metal or wood. The frame is fixed to the sash by a single or double hinge. There usually is a cranking mechanism called an “operator” that is connected, via an arm to a channel on the frame’s underside. Once the sash is closed, a lock catches it and firmly tightens it against the frame. The windows are open or closed with a crank or cam handle which is usually located at the bottom of the casement window.
Just like everything mechanical, sometimes they do breakdown. This article will try to assist you to identify the most common issues with casement windows. Some of the solutions to repairing casement windows are amazingly simple to do and can usually be done by a layman.
If a casement window is difficult to function i.e. it felt stiff during opening and shutting, the solution is often as simple as cleaning and lubricating the gears of the carrier or other moving metal parts. If metal parts are broken, then more than likely then broken part would need to be replaced.
However, if the lock and the operator work well but you find closing the window quite arduous, take a close look at the frame. There’s usually some caked paint blocking the smooth flow of the window. Scraping and sanding the chunky dried paint may just be what the doctor ordered. Sometimes it is just the case of a binding bare wood. Then it would be necessary for the sash to be planed to make it fit accurately.
Another area where problems usually occur would be in the operator arm. The arm of some casements runs in a track and more often than not it is clogged with dirt and debris. Cleaning the track on the underside of the sash with a wire brush and followed by wiping it with a solvent-soaked rag can ensure your casement window operates smoothly.
If a handle spins and the window remains locked, it can only mean that the splines either in the handle or on the operator shaft have been completely stripped. Getting a replacement crank that is adjustable to fit a variety of spindles from your local hardware store will do the trick. Slip on the correct ring, add the handle, tighten the setscrew and you’re good to go.
Finding replacement parts can sometimes be difficult. If you can find the make and model of your device, you may be able to contact the manufacturer for a quote.
Fixing a Stripped Crank Handle
Sometimes, you turn your window handle and nothing happens, the gears on your handle, crank operator shaft or both are probably stripped. Take off the handle and look for signs of wear. If the teeth are worn, replace the handle (available from manufacturers, window dealers, or search online for “window replacement parts”). If the shaft is worn, you can replace the whole operator. But here’s a home remedy to try first.
Start by backing out the setscrew to remove the handle (some newer handles don’t have setscrews and simply pull off—and this fix won’t work). If you have a folding handle, mark where the setscrew is on the operator shaft when the window is closed and the handle is folded up. Remove the handle and file the shaft so the setscrew can lock onto the shaft. The metal is tough; it’ll take about 15 minutes to get a flat side. Or use a rotary tool with a grinder bit to speed up the job. Vacuum the shavings out of the operator so they won’t harm the moving parts.
Reattach the handle with a longer setscrew (sold at hardware stores). If you open and close the window a lot, this fix may not hold up in the long run.
Fixing a Sticking Window
If you have a window that drags against the frame when you open it, close the window and examine it from the outside. The sash should fit squarely and be centered in the frame. If not, you can adjust the position of the sash by slightly moving the hinge channel.
You can move the channel at the top or the bottom of the window, depending on where the sash is dragging (but don't move both channels). Start by taking out the sash. If the hinge arm is screwed to the sash, see 'Replacing a fogged sash' below.
Mark the hinge channel location on the frame, then unscrew the channel. Fill the screw holes with epoxy (for vinyl windows) or wood filler (for wood windows). Filling the holes keeps the screws from realigning with their old locations when you reinstall the channel. Scrape the filled holes smooth before the epoxy sets. Place the channel back on the jamb, about 1/8 in. over from the mark (move the channel away from the side of the sash that's dragging), drill 1/8-in. pilot holes and then reinstall it.
Replacing a Sagging Hinge
Over time, hinge arms that support heavy windows can start to sag, causing the sash to hit the frame in the lower corner that’s opposite the hinge. First make sure the window sash is square and centered in the window opening. If it’s not, see the previous fix. To eliminate drag in a window that fits squarely, replace the hinge arms at the top and the bottom of the window. You can buy the hinges at window hardware supply stores.
Remove the sash from the window. The hinge arms are located near a corner or in the middle of the window frame. Unscrew the hinge arms from the window, then install the new ones in the same locations.
Replacing a Fogged Sash
If you have broken glass or fogging (condensation between the glass panes), you’ll have to replace the glass or the entire sash. If the sash is in good shape (not warped or cracked), you can sometimes replace just the glass. Call your window manufacturer to see whether glass replacement is an option and if a fogged window is covered under your warranty. You’ll need the information that’s etched into the corner of the glass and the sash dimensions.
Contact a glass repair specialist to have only the glass replaced (look under “Glass Repair” in the yellow pages or search online). Or you can replace the sash yourself and save some of the cost. Order it through the manufacturer.
To replace the sash, first remove the old one. You take this sash off by removing the hinge screws. Remove any hardware from the damaged sash and install it on the new sash (this sash doesn’t require any hardware).
Install the new sash by sliding it onto the hinge arms, then screw it to the hinges.
© 2012 Fairus Mohd Aziz
Wayne on August 26, 2019:
You start by pointing out that humidity may be the source of the problem but then, when you discuss repairs, you say nothing about how to address that problem.
Fairus Mohd Aziz (author) from Malaysia on November 10, 2012:
@shawnhi77 lm: Thank you... Still trying to get the hang of writing articles.
shawnhi77 lm on November 10, 2012:
Very nice lens and good information.
Fairus Mohd Aziz (author) from Malaysia on November 08, 2012:
Thanks. Just thought that I give this one a slightly different look.
bgassociate on November 08, 2012:
Nice lens. Really like the first window schematic. Nice touch.