Unsticking Stuck Windows

A Few Tips on how to Unstick Stuck Windows

By Mark J. Donovan




Sticking windows is a common problem with older homes. A stuck window is typically caused from either paint or humidity related problems. It is not uncommon for homeowners to paint windows and then close them prior to the paint fully drying. This results in the window being effectively glued shut. Also, when humidity levels are high, doors and windows have the tendency to swell.

This swelling action can cause the doors and windows to bind in the jamb making it nearly impossible for the door or window to open. Fortunately there are a few simple techniques to unsticking stuck windows.

When attempting to open a stuck window it is best to wear gloves and a long sleeve shirt as it is important to keep in mind you are dealing with glass.

Next, inspect the window for any nails or screws that could be holding the window shut. Permanently nailing or screwing a window shut happens more often than you might think.

Once assured there are no nails or screws holding the window closed, unlock the window and examine it for signs of a paint seal along the edge of the window sash and window frame.

Make sure to check both the outside and inside of the window.

If you see signs of a paint seal, use a sturdy scraper or putty knife and slide it over the edge of the paint seal, along the length of the window. Also push the blade of the scraper or knife into the joint between the window frame and window sash to break the seal.

With the paint seal broken attempt to open the window.

If the window still does not open, lightly tap along the window sash and window frame where you broke the paint seal, with a hammer and a small block of wood. Make sure you do not hit the window glass in the process. Once you have tapped around the window frame, again attempt to open the window. If it still does not open use the hammer and block of wood and lightly tap around the entire window frame. Again, attempt to open the window.

If removing the paint seal does not resolve the stuck window, then inspect the tracks in the window sash for obstructions or paint build up. If there is paint build up in the tracks then lightly sand them. If the buildup of paint in the track is excessive or you have trouble sanding near the top of the window frame where it meets the window sash use a hammer and chisel to remove the paint or obstruction. Note that using a hammer and chisel on the window frame will probably result in needing to apply some touch up paint to the marred surface.

Assuming these techniques result in the stuck window opening, note that your work is not quite done. Make sure you lightly sand along the entire window sash track and lubricate the tracks with a silicon spray. This will prevent the window from sticking in the future.

Unsticking a stuck window

If you’re still in the unfortunate situation of a stuck window then grab a pry bar and your small block of wood and go outside. Using your pry bar and block of wood as leverage, gently try to pry the corners of the window open. If the window opens, clean, sand and lubricate the window tracks.

If the window still does not open with the use of a pry bar, chances are you have either a severe humidity problem or a settling issue going on in the window frame. If you think the problem may be related to high humidity levels, you can attempt to unstick the stuck window by running a dehumidifier in the room for 24-48 hours and then try opening the window again.

If you do not think the issue is related to high humidity levels, then call a professional window contractor. If it is a house settling problem or a poorly constructed rough window frame opening issue then they can help to remove the entire window frame and properly resize the rough window frame opening.

If you need more help on choosing the right window replacement for your home, contact one of our pre-screened window installation contractors. They can help you select the replacement windows that are right for your home and budget, and perform the installation.


For more information on Installing Replacement Windows and Interior Window Trim

  • See the Installing a New Window Ebook from HomeAdditionPlus.com.  The Installing a New Window Ebook provides easy to understand, step-by-step instructions, on how to remove an old window and install a new one. Pictures are included for every key step in the process.
  • See the Installing Interior Window Trim Ebook from HomeAdditionPlus.com.  The Installing Interior Window Trim Ebook provides easy to understand, step-by-step instructions, on how to install interior window trim around a window. Pictures are included for every key step in the process.

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