Why is my window not staying up

Why is my Window Not Staying Up?

If your window is falling back down after lifting it up it most likely has something to do with your window balances. There are many different types of window balances available such as channel balances, spiral balances, and even older systems such as rope chain and pulley. Sometimes when the balance fails, or the window shoe breaks it can cause the tension on the balance to stop working which causes either your window to sag or fall. We will break down these different types of balances and try to explain some issues you may be facing.

Issues with a Spiral Balance

To start off with a spiral balance, there are a few different types of these but they all function in a similar way. You apply tension to these by spinning the end a set number of times and then locking it into place. When the balance fails it can be from several different reasons such as the balance rod getting rusty, the balance just snapping or breaking internally, damage to the outer end boot or the shoe that it connects to breaking.

Issues With a Spiral Balance
A window spiral balance that has become disconnected from a rusted pivot shoe.

Once you diagnose which of these issues you are facing, you will be able to determine which component you need to replace. Look at some of the photos provided to try to assist you in figuring out what broke. If you are unsure of which part, you need send a few good pictures over and we will look and let you know.

Removing a Broken Window Pivot Shoe

If the shoe is damaged remove the balance first by unscrewing it from the top of the sash, then check if you have a plastic cap to pop off so you can pull the shoe out of the channel. If you do not have a cap you may have to make a cut-out to get the shoe out. For the top sash you make a cut-out at the bottom, for the bottom sash you make a cut-out at the top. Do not mix this up! If you make the cut-out in the wrong place, you will potentially need a whole new window installation.

Removing a Broken Window Pivot Shoe
A pivot shoe that has snapped which also has a premade cutout for removal.

Issues with a Channel Balance

Channel balances have a few major components you will need to check to see what is failing or what has failed. You can look at the rope inside of the channel balance to see if it is snapped (very common) or if the end guides are snapped off. You may also need a new take-out clip these can also get mangled, missing, or bent as well.

Issues With a Channel Balance
A Channel Balance with a rope that has snapped.

You will also run into some channel balances that have internal shoes that can be either broken or have the insert where the where the pivot bar is worn out, snapped, or damaged. Additionally, the spring inside the channel balance can lose tension over time or become detached, affecting the window’s ability to stay open. Carefully inspecting each of these components will help you determine which parts need to be repaired or replaced to restore the functionality of your window.

Issues with Constant Force Balances

The issues you can face with constant force balances range from the pivot shoe being broken which holds the pivot bar, the internal springs snap often (look inside the plastic holder), and the holder itself becoming warped or cracked. You will typically have to pull these out in the same fashion you would a shoe for a spiral balance. Make sure to unlock the shoe before pulling it out of the liner. You could also use a jamb spreader to pull these out if you do not want to make a cutout to pull the shoe, spring, and holder out of the window.

Issues with Constant Force Balances
A Constant Force Balance with a snapped spring and a broken shoe.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you identify if your window balance is causing your window sash to not stay up? You will have to investigate the balance, shoe, or pivot bars on your window to determine what the actual issue is.

What are the different types of window balances commonly found in residential windows? You have a variety of different window balances available such as spiral, channel, constant force, and older systems such as weight and pulley.

How does a spiral balance work, and what are some common issues associated with it? Some issues with spiral balances involve full failure of the balance itself (such as being damaged from the inside), rust issues, broken pivot shoes, and tensioning problems.

What are the steps to replace a spiral balance when it fails? You will have to first carefully unhook the spiral balance from the shoe (some can still have tension) and then unscrew the balance from the top. You should be able to pull the balance out after doing these steps, sometimes you will need a jamb stretcher to pull the balance out of a liner.

What are the signs that your channel balance needs to be replaced? Channel balances can have issues such as the string breaking inside of the channel, cracked or broken end guides, missing or damaged take out clips, and rusted & corroded internal springs.

How do you inspect a channel balance to diagnose issues like a snapped rope or broken guides? Carefully, you want to make sure that the damaged component doesn’t have any tension on the spring itself as shifting around a damaged channel balance that is still loaded is not a good idea. The balance if still tensioned but has damage to an end guide, can cause the spring to launch out of the channel which can cause injury or damage. If you are not sure what you are doing, please contact a professional for assistance.

What are constant force balances, and what are their typical failure points? Constant force balances only have a few components such as the shoe, spring, or spring holder. Usually, the damage is the shoe or spring, we see a lot of snapped springs and damaged shoes where the pivot bar would be installed into.

How do you remove and replace a pivot shoe in a window with a constant force balance? As stated above you may or may not have to make a cutout to remove the pivot shoe, spring, and holder. See if you have a cap that is hiding a custom cutout by the window vendor.

What tools are necessary to repair window balances, and how should they be used? It really depends on what type of balance you are removing. For example, if you are removing a lot of spiral balance rods you may want to purchase a spiral balance tension tool for either tilt or non-tilt windows. You will also need a Philips or flat-head screen driver to remove the screw at the top.

What precautions should you take when removing a window balance to avoid damaging the window or sash? Be very careful when attempting to remove a damaged channel balance that is still loaded. If you do not know what you are doing, we highly recommend a professional for this situation.

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