Unsticking Stuck Windows
A Few Tips on how to Unstick Stuck
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.
Photo by Mark Donovan
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
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.
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
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.
For information on
Installing a New Window, 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.
Get Free Replacement Window Price Quotes,
Fill out our 3-5 minute quick and easy form, and receive a free price quote
on replacement windows from one of our prescreened and licensed window contractors. This
process is free and there is no obligation to continue once you receive your
window replacement price estimate.