How to Replace Broken Window Sash Cords

Older wood windows have a system involving ropes, pulleys, and weights that makes the windows easier to raise and lower, and also lets the window stay in any position along the track. The ropes are attached on either side of the moving sash. Each rope extends up and over a pulley in the upper part of the track. The rope is attached to the weight that is inside a hollow place on each side of the window. These old windows are usually “double-hung,” which means that both sashes are movable. This also means there are two sets of weights, ropes, and pulleys on each side. Everything is fine until the rope breaks or the pulley gets balky.

window sash cords replacement How to Replace Broken Window Sash Cords

The pulley might just need a shot of oil. Here’s how you replace the rope:

1. Carefully pry off the stop molding on the side where the rope is shot.

2. You may have to use a razor blade to cut the paint seal along the stop.

3. Move the sash out a tad to expose the pocket where the knotted rope has been held.

4. Untie and remove the rope.

5. Work the sash out from the track on the other side and untie it, being careful to put the entire sash in a safe place.

6. Now comes a possible hard part. There is an access plate in the track down near the bottom. It is held in place with a couple of screws, and probably a dozen coats of paint as well. You may have to remove paint to find this. Once you do, remove the plate and you should see and retrieve the weight.

7. Untie and measure the two pieces of rope to cut the replacement rope to length.

8. Feed the replacement rope in over the pulley and keep feeding until you can spot the rope in the access opening.

9. Tie the weight on.

10. Put the sash back in place on the side opposite to the side you’ve been working on and reattach the rope on that side first.

11. Install the rope into the slot and knot it.

12. Hold the sash against the strip separating the tracks for the upper and lower sash as you raise it to the top.

13. Look at the weight in the access hole. It should be suspended about 3 inches from the sill. If not, adjust the rope in the sash.

Once it’s adjusted, replace the stop and the access cover.

Not all windows are old or wooden. Many windows are aluminum frames and don’t have the rope, pulley, and weight balance system. If one of these windows suddenly stops keeping the position you set it at, look for a spiral rod coming from a metal tube in the track on one side of the moveable sash. Most of these rods have a small metal rod that sticks out on each side down near the bottom. This should fit into a slot inside the tube. It needs to be twisted and pushed up into the tube at the same time. Use needle-nosed pliers to do this, and as you get the rod up into the tube, move it around until it slips into the slot. If it doesn’t operate properly, disengage the rod and twist some more.

In another variation, the tube is held in place by a screw at the top. The tube must be removed, and it is twisted to adjust the spring.


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