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How to open a jammed window: Tips and tricks

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If you’ve been grappling with stubborn, jammed windows in your older home for a while, don’t immediately go frantically searching for quotes and better alternatives.

It’s important to first consider all the things that you can do to fix your windows so that they don’t jam as easily.

At times, there are very easy fixes to how to open a jammed window. For example, a lot of the time, your window may get stuck due to pieces of chipped paint wedged between the window frame and its sash (the part around the moveable glass pane). Similarly, a lot of people reseal windows using caulk, which over time, may lead to the windows jamming up stubbornly. 

However, there can also be a slew of other more serious reasons why your windows are stuck and refuse to open no matter what. For example, it’s possible that the glass has shattered, or the window panes are broken, which is where it may be prudent to call in a professional. However, for less problematic causes, you can start a simple DIY project to repair the windows and make sure they’re never jammed again.

What type of window is jammed?

It’s important to understand that there can be a bunch of reasons why your windows are jammed, which can include neglecting proper maintenance, subpar window materials and inadequate installation. However, it’s also vital to keep in mind that, owing to the problems mentioned above, it doesn’t matter what types of windows you have, they can still be stuck and require a timely repair. With that being said, let’s look at some of the most common types of windows that get jammed.

Sash windows

There are a couple of reasons why sash windows commonly get jammed. For instance, if the cord has snapped, it’s likely going to contort the window frame and may get it stuck into place. Plus, the twisting of the frame will be quite visible. Another reason is if a weight has come undone from within the frame. If this happens, the sash cord may very easily jam in the interior part of the frame. A common way to spot this problem is the fact that the window will feel pretty heavy to lift when you attempt to open it. 

Dual sashes (whereby two panes of glass are openable) also need to be frequently cleaned and lubricated for optimal performance and longevity. Neglecting to maintain double-hung windows will cause friction between the window frame and the sashes, which will make it difficult for you to open or shut them.

In terms of usability, horizontal sliding sash windows (also known as Yorkshire sliders) are a pretty convenient option. However, these windows also tend to jam if they aren’t cleaned regularly. Things like dust, grime, and debris lining the sliding panels will act as a barrier preventing you to open or shut them. Corrosion can also damage the wheel and tracks of the windows, which can further be problematic. So, service these windows accordingly to achieve easy and smoother functionality. 

Tilt and turn windows

Tilt and turn windows boast a dual-opening design that enables you to open the windows and set a desired tilt level for them. One of the primary reasons why these windows get jammed is if you don’t open them properly. However, another common reason concerns improper cleaning of the windows.

You see, what many people don’t know is that these windows are designed with a trigger button located down the handle. You can easily see it at the frame’s edge. So while cleaning, people tend to accidentally press this button, which jams the window when it’s shut. To deal with this, just click and release the trigger button. 

Tilt and turn windows – with their many moving parts and complex system – can easy get stuck. (Adobe)

Casement windows

Casement windows can very easily be damaged as a result of strong winds. Because they’re manufactured to open outwards and are fitted with hinge arms, if they are rusted, it can cause a jammed window. A strong gust of wind can also slam the sash outwards and break the hinge arms, which would mean it might not open or close as it’s supposed to. 

Bifold doors

Bifold doors are commonly susceptible to dirt and debris damage within the tracks. If you don’t frequently clean them, dust and grime will begin to accumulate inside. Over time, all the dirt in the crevices is going to make it difficult for you to open and close the windows – if a jam occurs in this instance, don’t force it to open as damage could be caused.

Rooflights and Velux windows

Velux windows come built-in with gaskets and seals to prevent water or moisture from permeating inside. However, if you neglect to service these components and if they suffer considerable wear and tear damage, the gasket and seals will quickly deteriorate, causing jams. In addition, these windows are also equipped with electronic systems and sensors to allow homeowners to remotely open or close them. So, a faulty installation or subpar electrical components will end up causing the windows not to function optimally.

Timber windows

One of the main issues with wooden window frames is that they’re highly susceptible to distorting or warping due to environmental factors, such as high humidity and dampness. For instance, high external temperatures may cause the wood to expand, making it difficult to open the window. To avoid this issue, make sure you regularly service the wooden panels by either coating them with paint or applying a sealant. 

uPVC windows

One of the major drawbacks of uPVC windows is that their parts and components, such as the locking system and handle, may deteriorate, making them difficult to open and close. This is why you must frequently service these windows.

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Why do windows jam shut?

There are a variety of reasons that make it pretty important to know how to open a jammed window. While some factors may warrant a professional touch, other problems can be dealt with very easily. In light of this, mentioned below is a list of things that can cause your windows to jam and what to do about it.

Paint issues

If you’re trying your best to open a window and it just won’t move, before panicking, check the paint on the window frames. If you spot chipped paint or accidental leakage of the paint in the frame’s crevices (which should be clean and debris-free for the sash to move), then you’re a victim of a paint jam. We explain below how to deal with this issue. To prevent this from happening again, you have to be careful not to overpaint the frame and ensure that the window is fully open to help the wet paint dry optimally. If you jump the gun too soon, you’ll have to contend with potential paint seals that will begin to form as soon as you prematurely close the window. 

A movement in the foundations

Frequent movements in the home’s foundation can also lead to window jamming. Most houses are built atop strong iron and concrete slabs and footings, critical for bearing the load of the structure. But it’s prone to shifting. And when that happens, there’s going to be additional pressure on the window, which can cause a misalignment in the frames. As a result, you won’t be able to either open or shut the windows until the frame is re-installed and the channels are properly aligned. If this indeed is what is causing your windows to jam, it’s recommended to call in a professional.

Distorting or disintegrated wood

If you have wooden frames, one of the main issues (which is quite preventable) with wooden frames is that their caulk will gradually begin to disintegrate, reducing the efficacy of the waterproof seal that helps keep all the moisture out and eliminates water permeation. In addition, these sealants also help prevent air leaks.

However, when the sealant begins to wear off, the window is going to start accumulating moisture, which in turn, will spoil the paint (allowing it to crack). This is going to let all the water in, slowing damping and warping the wood out of shape. When this happens, it’s going to be impossible for you to open or close windows without causing any further damage. Even if you do let the wood dry out, it’s still not going to retain its original shape.  So, always remember to maintain your wooden frames by regularly applying the sealant. 

Obstructions

Another common reason why your window may start to get jammed or stuck easily is that it’s lined with dust particles and pieces of lint or debris along the track of the window. If you don’t clean and maintain your windows from time to time, it’s also possible that the built-in metal locking system will gradually begin to corrode, especially if there’s a lot of condensation. The best way to prevent this from happening is to vacuum the window tracks frequently and applying a lubricant to the locking mechanism.

Window or frame damage

Last but not least, window or frame damage will also make it impossible for you to open and shut your window. Unfortunately, the only solution to this problem is having new windows installed. Depending on the type of window frames you have, you can either call in a professional or do it yourself.

How to open a jammed sash window

A common reason for wooden windows to get jammed is getting painted shut, or paint flakes and debris blocking the opening mechanism. (Adobe)

Now that you know all the reasons why your window may jam and that you may not necessarily need to hire a professional window repair service, let’s now look into the step-by-step process of how you can repair a jammed sash window.

Step 1: Remove paint or bonds

Removing the paint bonds is pretty straightforward. And all you need is a putty knife. So, grab the tool and start with the lower sash, gently removing the paint or caulk that’s jamming the window. For more stubborn paint lines you can use a hammer to crack the paint bonds (but don’t start whamming the frame), be gentle. After the bonds are loose, use the putty knife to dislodge the debris.

Step 2: Test to see if the window opens

After you’ve knocked and chipped all the paint lines off the window frame, before doing anything else, try to shut the window and see if it moves or not. If it’s still stuck, use the putty knife to separate the upper and lower sash, both of which converge at a meeting rail. The objective is to gently pry open both sashes to create movement in the window. 

Step 3: Remove the front stop

If you haven’t had any success opening or shutting the jammed window, the last thing you can do is to take out the front stop. A front stop or trim piece is a component that helps keep the window partially opened. A front stop is typically half an inch thick and is screwed in place. Take out the screws and gently slide your putty knife down the front stop and pry out the trim piece. After taking out the front stop, slowly open the window.

Step 4: Check the cord

If the window is still jamming, see if the cord is broken. If so, take out the window stops using your putty knife and gently lift the sash until it’s completely off the frame. Inspect where the cord is damaged and cut it off. Then, measure the length of the cord and note down the material – you’ll have to get one with the same specs. Thread the cord through the window’s pulley mechanism, making sure it treads along the same path as the old one did. Secure the knots at both ends and carefully attach the sash to the frame. 

How to open a jammed tilt and turn window

Here’s a step-by-step of how to open a jammed window if you have tilt-and-turn windows installed.

Step 1: Reset the hinge and locate the lock mechanism

The first thing you should do is ensure the mechanism is in a neutral position. To do that, slightly open and push the window right at the top hinge, essentially resetting the window frame in its normal position.

Step 2: Twist the handle upwards

Next, look for a button that should just be behind the window handle. Press and hold down the button firmly to get the window in a neutral position. Now while holding the button, gently move the handle upwards.

Step 3: Twist the handle downwards to lock

After the handle is facing upwards, release the button and shut the window. Then, move the handle downwards to lock it. Now that you’ve reset your tilt and turn window frame, it won’t jam or be stuck again. And remember, while cleaning the window, remember not to press the button behind the handle.

Frequently asked questions about how to open a jammed window

While uPVC windows are praised for their durability and affordability, they also come with a variety of faults that can cause your window to jam. For instance, the material is highly susceptible to expansion (in hot climates) and contraction (in colder climates). These abrupt temperature changes can cause friction, warping the window frame and making it difficult to open or close. However, this isn’t a common issue and has mostly to do with unprofessionally installed windows or the subpar quality of the materials and design flaws.

While you can fix most jammed window issues yourself, especially when the cause is minor debris and obstruction or if the window just needs proper lubrication or coating, there are some instances where hiring professional help will be the best course of action. For example, if your window is jammed because of a corroded or damaged lock system or handle, it would be wise to consult a professional. Similarly, if your window frame is damaged, you may need to call in the professionals to assess the problem and help you figure out whether you need to install new windows or get them repaired.

Shameel Kazi

Writer

Shameel is a writer renowned for his dual expertise in VPN and online security matters, coupled with a deep understanding of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology.

With years of experience as a VPN and security writer, Shameel’s work delves into the world of Virtual Private Networks, guiding readers towards enhanced digital protection.

Beyond cybersecurity, Shameel boasts proficiency in cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology. His insights into the decentralised realm offer readers a nuanced perspective on the potential and challenges of this transformative technology. Whether discussing the intricacies of blockchain security or the implications of digital currencies, his writings encapsulate both depth and clarity.

Through articles, guides, and expert analyses, Shameel’s blend of knowledge bridges the gap between digital security and blockchain innovation, making him a go-to source for those seeking an understanding of the digital landscape.

Amy Reeves

Editor

Amy is a seasoned writer and editor with a special interest in home design, sustainable technology and green building methods.

She has interviewed hundreds of self-builders, extenders and renovators about their journeys towards individual, well-considered homes, as well as architects and industry experts during her five years working as Assistant Editor at Homebuilding & Renovating, part of Future plc.

Amy’s work covers topics ranging from home, interior and garden design to DIY step-by-steps, planning permission and build costs, and has been published in Period Living, Real Homes, and 25 Beautiful Homes, Homes and Gardens.

Now an Editor at the Independent Advisor, Amy manages homes-related content for the site, including solar panels, combi boilers, and windows.

Her passion for saving tired and inefficient homes also extends to her own life; Amy completed a renovation of a mid-century house in 2022 and is about to embark on an energy-efficient overhaul of a 1800s cottage in Somerset.