My Windows Won’t Stay Up – Easy Fix

This is a first in our series of posts on trouble shooting your windows.  We hear from people all the time asking how to address a window problem.  You’ll likely find that many common replacement window problems can be fixed pretty easily.  Here we’re looking at what to do if your windows won’t stay up.

The first step is to take a look at the window itself to see if you can tell what’s going on.  In all double hung replacement windows there are balances in the sides of the frame that support the sash and hold it up when you open it so it doesn’t fall.

We’ve made a quick video that may help to diagnose your problem.

There are only 2 likely scenarios if your windows won’t stay up:

The first one is that one or both of the balances are not connected to the sash.  This would mean that the balances are there and they may be working fine, but they’ve become disconnected from the sash so they are not helping to keep the window open.  In the video above we show you how to address that, it’s typically an easy fix.

The second scenario is that one or both of the balances are connected to the sash, but they are not working properly.  In this case you’ll probably need to replace the failed component.

To do this you’ll need to identify which part has failed.  There are 3 parts that might need to be replaced.

The pivot bar is a small metal bar that is attached to the bottom of the sash.  This bar sticks out of the sash and connects to the balance shoe inside the frame.  If your pivot bar is broken, twisted, or otherwise not engaging with the shoe you should remove it and take it to a local window distributor to see if they have a similar part.

if your windows won't stay open the pivot bar could be the problem.
Here’s a broken pivot bar. Most of this bar is inside the bottom of the sash of the window, the end of it should be visible.

If your pivot bars look good, check the shoes.  The shoes are small plastic or metal blocks that are inside the frame.  They connect the balance in the frame to the pivot bar in the sash.  It is possible that the shoe could be cracked, stuck or otherwise defective causing improper operation.  I you can remove the shoe try taking it to a local distributor to see if they have anything similar.

This is a balance shoe. If your windows won't stay up this might be broken.
This is a balance shoe. You’ll find a part similar to this inside the frames of your double hung windows.

If the pivot bars are looking good and the shoes appear to be in fine shape then your balances themselves must be defective.  There are 3 types of balances, spiral, constant force or coil, and block and tackle.  Be careful when removing the balances as they may be under tension and they could snap out when released.  Balances can typically be removed with just one or two screws.

Once you have the components taken apart it will likely be pretty easy to see what is not working.  If your windows are older or if you don’t know who manufactured them you may have a hard time finding compatible parts.  Many window companies use very similar parts so it’s possible that another company will have something that will work for you, but you may need to try several distributors or manufacturers to find a part that will work.

Unfortunately if you can’t find the right part you might be out of luck and replacing the window may be the only option.  Hopefully this info helps to solve your problem.

Let us know if there is anything else we can do to help!

 

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22 thoughts on “My Windows Won’t Stay Up – Easy Fix”

    1. That’s old school! The options are to take it apart and try to replace the rope or to get a new window. I guess it depends on how attached you are to those old windows.

  1. My Anderson window will not stay up and windows were put in in 1984 . The sash does not come out and balances are not visible. How can you repair them ?

    1. It might be a bad balance as they’re pretty old. I’d call Andersen. If you can find the serial number sticker in the top of the frame you’ll be in decent shape.

  2. I was cleaning windows this morning and sadly did not look up the Anderson window Youtube how to let the top window out. I asked my husband and he forced it to swing open not realizing there were springs to push open. Now the top window will not stay up and I see two loose springs that came out. Is there a way to put the springs back so that the window will re-engage to stay put?

    1. Sorry to hear about your trouble. You can probably get the pivot bars back in the shoes to get it working right again as long as nothing is broken. You might check with Andersen to see if they have a video or something to show you how to do it.

  3. Hi Dan,
    Great article. We had 18 balancers that needed to be changed. But most we the lower sash.

    There were three windows where the top sash and bottom sash balancers need changing.

    When I put the top sash back in first by itself, the balancer holds fine and everything seems great. But when I push the window all the way up…it stops about 1″ from the top.

    What makes it stranger, all three windows where we replaced the top balancer all stop 1″ from the top.

    Clearly you would think something is blocking it or something is stopping it from going up, but my spouse (she is working on it) claims there is nothing she can find. But it’s the same on all 3 windows so it must be the same thing.

    If you or anyone reading this thread has any thoughts or ideas to try, it would be great. Thanks so much. Hope everyone is enjoying their weekend.

    JP

    1. I love problem solving! It could be that something is in the way or it could be that the new balances are too short. Balances are measured in height and strength. You might have balances that are the right strength, but not tall enough. That would allow the window to operate correctly, but not open all the way. You could test this by removing the sashes so they’re disconnected from the balances then try putting them back in the frame and sliding them up while they’re disconnected from the balances. If they go up you know the balance was the issue and if they don’t something is blocking them.

      Good luck!

      1. can you measure the lower sash on a single pivot window to get the balance length needed? or, is there another way to measure for the length of spiral pivot balance length without taking the window open or off. They are heavy and if I get the part, my fixit guy will do the work.

        1. Good question, you can probably get close enough by just measuring the height of the window. Most spiral window balances allowed you to twist the balance to add pressure to it so you only needed the height and not the total weight. That’s a little different than most more modern styles. Now you need t specific the height and the weight as a wider window would be heavier and that would need a stronger balances than a narrow window.

          Good luck with the project. You don’t find too many people repairing old spiral balance windows anymore.

    1. Is the sash hooked into the balance shoe on both sides? If so then you probably need one or two new balances. You can likely get them from the manufacturer.

  4. I have new double hung windows. When I raise the bottom one the top one drops down a little. When I close the bottom window and go to lock won’t lock till I hold the top one up tight and push bottom down and lock still having to hold the top one.

    Can you tell me how to fix. If can email would appreciate. The man who put in said that’s way suppose to work but I’ve lived in houses with them before and never had to hold top one up.

    Thank you

    Mary

    1. Sounds like you need a new balance or two. Do you know who made the windows or who installed them? I’d start there. If you can find the manufacturer it might be an easy problem to solve.

  5. Hi,
    All of our windows seem to not come down all the way to line up with the lock mechanism (they are single hung windows). There seems to be too much tension from the string in the balancer. They are channel balancers. Is there any way to adjust the tension in channel balancers or do they need to be replaced because they didn’t use the right kind from the start? This is 5 yr old house. There is alot of info on adjusting spiral balancers online, but not on channel ones. And if they do need to be replaced, how can I find out which balancer I should buy? We can’t find any local company/person to fix this issue for us, and the window company charges us so much just to come out here. I’d really appreciate any help.

    1. Who made the windows? I’d start by contacting them. There may be a charge for parts or service, but it’ll be easiest to get the right parts if you just order them from the manufacturer.

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