Need Advice on Opening Windows

I’ve been asked by a fifth floor resident to put up a post soliciting advice on window operation. His message is as follows:

“I assumed for a while that the downstairs windows weren’t supposed to open, but I recently saw a picture on the site of them open, so now I know they’re supposed to open but can’t for some reason. The best I can do is move them up a couple millimeters. They won’t budge past that. 

I was hoping perhaps someone else in the building has been in this position before and could help me come up with strategies to make them work again. I imagine the best route to go would be to open them then lubricate the tracks, but it’s that first opening that I can’t manage.

Admin here again: I’m hoping someone else can offer some helpful suggestions (in the comments, please), but my impression after watching more than one contractor open long-unused windows in my unit is that it’s pretty much a matter of brute force. Because of the depth of the sills, I usually have to climb up and kneel on the sill to get enough leverage to open even a not-stuck window (Warning: lifting from that position can be risky for one’s back). I know someone else who’s used a metal bar as a lever but that visibly bends the lift ridge of the window and could damage it permanently. I’ve thought for years that someone needs to design a mechanism that can lift these windows without damage to them or us.

That said, I can suggest the best lubricant to use on the tracks once the window is open: white lithium spray. It’s readily available at Home Depot and makes a huge difference.

One other factor that affects ease of window use is whether the glass has been replaced. Although it’s not obvious just by looking, the newer glass is twice as thick which provides better insulation but means it weighs twice as much. One can find a bit more info about our windows by clicking on the “Windows” page of this site’s Neighbor-to-Neighbor section.

6 thoughts on “Need Advice on Opening Windows”

  1. A previous owner screwed some of my sashes shut–ostensibly because they had become loose and wouldn’t stay. (I found this out after removing the screws). Maybe there’s an obstruction? The windows are just one giant double-hung macguffin and both the upper and the lower sashes will move unless something further was done to them since installation. During the last non-air-conditioned heat wave I had both the upper and lower sections open with screens in each opening.

  2. Definitely experienced this. Beyond the lubrication, look at the top of the sills from the second floor since there’s a couple “pull in” black latches that can be slightly off and keep the downstairs windows from sliding up. That’s also a great place to drop the lubricant in and let gravity do it’s work getting it down along the rubber window seals.

    Now if anyone has any great ideas of how to keep the top floor, top window sections from sliding down and creating a major safety issue, I’m all ears!

    1. You need new ballasts installed. Contact City Mirror at 978-452-5976 or Riverside Glass at 978-454-7171 and have them inspect those windows. EXTREMELY dangerous for those windows to slam down but should be a (relatively) easy (although not necessarily imexpensive for materials and labor) fix.

    2. Checking the top of the sash and possibly dripping in some lubricant from upstairs sounds like a great suggestion. Just to be clear, the upper edge of the downstairs sash is usually a bit below the bedroom floor and can be a bit of a challenge to see, especially if one has furniture in front of the bedroom window the way we do.

  3. Double check to be sure that the windows are not locked. Look for a short bar to the right or left at the bottom of the window. I have a key for my locks (which I now leave unlocked) and, if that is the case and yours are locked, I believe my key will fit your window. Contact me.

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