What to Do If Your Windows Are Hard to Open

It feels like a home is a cycle of never-ending projects and to-do lists.  A frequent annoyance found on these checklists that homeowners is fix the windows.  The problem?  They’re hard to open, and a window that won’t open isn’t any good to you at all.

Custom Windows

Investigate Common Issues

Begin by looking into the most common problems that are the reasons behind difficult-to-open windows.


The first is: loose screws.  Fortunately for this commonplace issue there’s an easy solution as stripped or loose screws are easy to fix, even if you don’t consider yourself very handy with tools.

You’ll want to remove the window sash to properly investigate.  Lift the sash outward and bring it into the room, setting it aside so you can work.  Sashes can sag on the frame because of corroded hinges or stripped screws.  If that’s the case here, tighten each screw if they’re loose, or if they’re stripped, fill the stripped holes with wood epoxy filler, then reinstall the hinge screws and sash.


Hinges are another typical reason as to why windows can be hard to open.  First, clean up your hinges so you can see how worn they are by using household cleaner, following this up by lubricating them with silicone or dry Teflon spray lube, then wiping up the excess.  After you’ve cleaned off the buildup, open and close the window to see if the hinge pivots as it moves.  Struggling hinges should be replaced.  Exterior hinges will have increased exposure to the elements and will likely be the source of the window failing to operate smoothly.  For hinges that are painted over, use a utility knife to slice through and pry off.

Window Operator

Check the window operator next if your window is still having trouble opening and you’ve already worked on the sash as much as possible.  Remove the sill operator cover trim and loosen the crank handle setscrew to take off the handle and its cover.  Now, reinstall the crank handle to test its rotation by cranking it while examining the gears.  Is there metallic looking dust or does the gear appear to be chipped or rough in its motion?  If so, the operator will need to be replaced.  If it’s working fine, then tighten the screws, add grease to the gears, and reassemble the trim.

Window Locks

Hardware is Easiest to Replace

When testing the movement of the sash, you’ll keep your eye on hinges and operators, and when you remove the sash completely, you’ll look for stripped or loose screws.  Abused and worn hardware is the easiest problem to resolve and sometimes just requires either a little lubrication or replacement.

A Stubborn Sash

In other cases, it might not be the hardware that’s causing the sash to stick—it might be the sash itself.  Wood windows experience this, as exposure to moisture can cause problems like warping, swelling, and wood rot, all of which can hinder the window’s operation.  Other times, it could be a paint job that’s causing the sash to be hard to open.

To fix a paint job problem, you’ll need a utility knife.  Run the knife along the joints that surround the sash.  Don’t neglect the top edge’s rear side of your double-hung window, where you might need a step stool to reach and investigate.  Test the window sash to see if you’ve successfully loosened the paint to help the window move better.  While you can put the knife away, you aren’t quite finished yet.

A trick to lubricate the sash involves candle wax.  By using the stub end of a candle, you can coat the channel where the sash travels.  Don’t worry, the wax won’t leave a messy residue, and instead it will greatly assist in allowing the sash to smoothly open and close in the future.

Bedroom Windows

When All Else Fails

If a thick paint job that’s preventing the sash from operating or rusty or damaged hardware has been addressed and doesn’t seem to fix the problem of a stubborn window, then it could be a more serious problem.  As mentioned before, wooden windows can become damp due to their exposure and swell as a result.

You’ll have to roll up your sleeves if you want to fix this problem yourself (or you could call a professional window expert if you aren’t particularly handy).  Remove the sash and inspect it closely.  The sash might not open because of the parting strips, which will have to be removed.

The issue could be poorly installed flashing that has failed to protect the window frame during rain.  Flashing repair is an involved project that calls for the removal of your siding.  Here, you’ll need to decide if you want to continue on your own or call a professional.  The benefits of having a repairman do the job is that you won’t need to buy special tools and with their trained expertise, they can have this task completed much quicker.

Find a Window Replacement Company

After reading the great tips here your windows are still hard to open? One other thing to consider is the possibility of purchasing new windows that have a higher efficiency rating.

Over 400,000 happy customers have chosen Feldco for their home improvement needs. Speak to a product specialist about our energy efficient windows and get a free quote online today.

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