How to Troubleshoot Windows that Won’t Open or Close Properly

sun shining through windows installed by presidential exteriors

Opening your windows for fresh air shouldn’t be a struggle. In fact, if your windows don’t open and close smoothly, you’re at risk of leaks, reduced energy efficiency, and break-ins

Here, we share tips on what to do when your windows aren’t opening or closing properly so you can enjoy fresh air hassle-free.

Understand the Causes of Failing Window Operation

Understanding the common causes that interfere with proper window function helps provide insight into your next steps. Issues can include:  

  • Old windows: The moving parts of your window, such as locks, cranks, handles, and pulley systems, tend to see the most wear and tear. If you find your windows can’t open, consider their age, as it could be time for replacement. 

  • Damaged frames: Wood frames tend to suffer the most damage compared to metal and vinyl. This is due to rot from water damage but can also be caused by pests like termites and woodpeckers. If your frames are warped or damaged this can interfere with the window’s ability to move along the tracks, or block casement windows from opening. Considering vinyl window installation could be the answer.

  • Foundation issues: If your home is sinking, this can cause issues with your home’s alignment. As a result, windows can jam. In this case, consulting with a foundation expert might be required.

  • Poor installation: If you hired an untrustworthy window installation company, poor installation could lead to difficulty opening and closing your windows. If your windows are still under warranty, calling the window installer right away is important. They should honor their warranty and make the required adjustments to improve function. 

  • Renovations: During more intense home renovation processes, including exterior installations like siding, these changes can sometimes impact window operation. Speak to your renovation company as soon as possible to inspect the window and resolve the issue.

  • Number of windows: When multiple windows aren’t working, it’s time for a whole home window replacement. New windows will allow you to regain energy efficiency, security, and function.

Troubleshooting Sticking Windows

If the above scenarios aren’t the cause, it could just be a build-up of dirt on the tracks. Vacuum out debris and wash the tracks thoroughly to see if this helps. Do not apply products like WD-40 to the tracks, as the chemicals can damage the frames and attract more dirt, making things worse. If you recently painted, even small paint drips can cause jams. Check for paint blobs and scrape them away to see if this helps. 

For exterior paint jobs, sloppy work can seal the sills to the frames. This requires using a putty or utility knife to break the seal. You can also determine if there’s an issue with double and single-hung window pulley systems by carefully removing the interior trim to see if the cord has snapped. If this is the case, or cleaning the tracks doesn’t work, you’ll have to call in a professional for repairs.

Why Proper Window Function is Important

When your windows stop functioning properly, it can increase the risk for the following far more serious issues:

  • Leaks: Window seals prevent moisture and leaks from seeping into your home and causing costly water damage. When your window can’t close properly, it interferes with the seals, leading to worsening issues, including wood rot, mildew, and mold.

  • Reduced energy efficiency: If the integrity of your window is even slightly compromised, the energy efficiency starts to deteriorate. Signs of compromised energy efficiency include fog, condensation, drafts, and frost. Once your windows lose their energy efficiency, your HVAC system has to work harder, increasing your energy bills.

  • Reduced security: Windows that don’t open and close properly increase the risk of break-ins. Improper locking mechanisms and uneven seals make it easy to pry the window open, allowing intruders to enter your home.

If your windows won’t open properly, trying to force the window open or make repairs on your own can make things worse, including breaking the glass, damaging the locks, and interfering with the windows’ mechanisms. As a result, it’s always best to call in the window experts to assess your windows as soon as possible.

When You Need New Windows, Go with the Professionals

Professional window experts can assess the issue to determine if repairs are possible, such as replacing broken fasteners, locks, cords, or worn cranks. However, if all your windows are experiencing issues or the damage is severe, you will require replacement with new, secure, energy-efficient windows.

When it comes to energy efficiency, Presidential Exteriors has got it down — our exclusive line — the Presidential Series Windows from Vytex — are ahead of their time in energy efficiency, boasting NFRC ratings demonstrating that they are energy star 7.0 certified. Learn more about our window replacement services today! Contact us for a free quote.