How to adjust double-hung windows

Written by mary lougee
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How to adjust double-hung windows
Double-hung windows enable cleaning both sides of the glass at once from inside. (windows. window box image by L. Shat from

Double-hung windows require adjustments in tension after installation -- occasionally several years after the installation. When a house settles, the windows and doors may not open and close as fluidly as they did upon installation. A double-hung window should open easily and remain in position without sliding closed on its own.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Flat screwdriver

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  1. 1

    Turn the window lock in the centre top of the bottom sash counterclockwise to unlock the window. The bottom window sash is the bottom half of a double-hung window that is surrounded by wood or vinyl and holds the pane or panes of glass in place.

  2. 2

    Place one hand on each side of the bottom sash and raise the window sash straight up 10 to 15 cm (4 to 6 inches). The sash will slide upwards in a channel or window jamb on each side.

  3. 3

    Release the finger locks on both sides of the top frame of the sash by pushing them inward to the window centre.

  4. 4

    Tilt the sash inward into the room at a 90-degree angle to the floor. The sash will rotate on two pivot pins on each side of the window bottom. Release the bottom sash so that it rests in this position.

  5. 5

    Place a screwdriver in the balance shoe in the right side bottom window jamb track. The balance shoe is in the track on each side of the bottom sash and includes the pivot pin that is supporting the window at a 90-degree angle.

  6. 6

    Turn the tension adjustment screw in the balance shoe clockwise 1/2 turn to increase window tension. This will tighten the sash in the window jamb so that it does not close on its own.

  7. 7

    Turn the tension adjustment screw in the balance shoe counterclockwise 1/2 turn to decrease window tension. This adjustment allows the sash to slide up and down more freely with less tension. Windows that are difficult to open require this adjustment.

  8. 8

    Adjust the window's left side balance shoe in the same manner.

  9. 9

    Raise the sash to its original position while pressing the finger locks inward to the centre of the sash. Slide the sash in the window jamb and release the locks to hold the sash in place.

  10. 10

    Test the sash tension by opening the window up and down until it slides easily and stays in position. Make additional adjustments in the same manner.

Tips and warnings

  • Turn tension adjustment screws in small, incremental turns for the best results.
  • Double-hung windows tilt inward for easy cleaning on both the inside and outside of the glass.
  • Never place items on a window sash that is tilted. Weight on the window will damage the pivot pins on the bottom and can result in the window falling out of the jamb onto the floor.

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