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What Is a Sash Balance?

Article Details
  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 03 November 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2018
    Conjecture Corporation
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A sash balance is a piece of hardware that acts as a counterweight for a window. It allows people to easily open and close the window and can hold the window open in a desired position. Sash balances are one among several options available for controlling window mechanisms. Over time, they tend to wear with regular use and may need to be replaced if a window starts to malfunction.

There are a number of clues that can indicate a sash balance needs to be replaced. If a window is hard to open or slams shut when pushed open, these are strong indicators. Likewise if the window appears hung up, or one side moves more quickly than the other. The window may also be squeaky and sticky, rather than moving seamlessly under hand pressure. It’s also possible for swelling in the window frame to limit freedom of movement.

Spiral and spring sash balance designs are available. People who are not sure about which type to buy can remove the old balance and bring it into a hardware store for matching. A contractor can also check the window to determine which hardware to use and install it, for a small fee. In cases where people want to change windows or retrofit a window with a new control system, it may be necessary to use a contractor for complex jobs, unless they are confident with their home improvement skills.

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Replacement kits usually come with detailed instructions on how to handle sash balance replacement. The kit should have all the necessary hardware, requiring only a screwdriver to take out the old component and put in a new balance. It can help to lubricate the frame at the time of replacement to help the window slide more smoothly. Oiling can also protect metal components from rust, which will extend the life of the window hardware and prevent unsightly staining.

If a window is not working properly, people should not attempt to force it to open or close. This could break the frame or the window. Lubricants can sometimes help, as can gently jiggling or tapping the window frame to encourage it to shift position. In older homes, it is important to be aware that the structure may be settling, which could push windows and frames out of position. The sash balance may be in good working order, but the window may not function normally because the frame is warped.

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