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How To Open A Stuck Wooden Window

Antique or vintage wooden windows can be beautiful and a touch of charm to an older home, but they are also more prone to maintenance problems. For example, aging wooden windows often become stuck and won't open.

If you encounter a stuck window in your home, you need to exercise care when attempting to open it to avoid glass breakage or damage to your home. Below are some safe, effective techniques you can use to help get a stuck wooden window open.

Use a Putty Knife to Loosen the Sash

One strategy to use when attempting to open a stuck wooden window is to use a putty knife to separate the sash from the surrounding frame. The sash is the movable part of the window unit that contains the glass pane(s).

In some cases, a putty knife will be able to loosen the "grip" between the sash and frame. On the interior side of the window, carefully insert a metal putty knife blade into the opening between the sash and window frame.

Next, lightly tap the back of the putty knife handle a couple of times, then move the putty knife blade a couple of inches. Repeat the process of tapping and moving the blade along both sides of the sash. Once you have performed this procedure, attempt to open the window.

Be careful when pushing the blade into the narrow opening between the sash and frame. Too much pressure could damage the sash or frame, and striking the back of the putty knife handle with excessive force could break the glass.

Cut the Seal between the Sash and Frame

At times, the sash and the frame become joined by paint between the two components. That is why using a utility knife can be helpful in slicing through the stubborn, glue-like connection.

Place the sharp side of the utility knife blade against the joint between the frame and sash. Next, carefully slide the knife edge down along the joint and cut the paint; you may need to make several progressively deeper cuts to get through the paint.

In addition, you may need to cut the paint on both sides of the window, if the sash remains stuck in position. Be careful not to slice through the wooden sash or frame when cutting.

Pry the Sash Open

If the window sash remains firm and won't open after using a putty knife or utility knife, you may need to pry the sash open with a pry bar. Keep in mind that prying should be a last resort and could cause damage to the sash, frame or sill.

Should you decide to pry open the sash, begin by placing a thin block of wood on the outside window sill. This will serve to protect the sill from being gouged by the pry bar as you apply pressure.

Next, place the hooked end of the pry bar under the bottom of the sash while resting the bottom of the bar on the block of wood. Be sure to place the pry bar under the center of the sash; attempting to pry from the sides could cause the sash to become jammed even further.

Once the pry bar is in position, slowly push the end of the bar upward. Don't force the bar if you experience significant resistance, or you may accidentally crack the sash or break the glass. Instead, back off and re-apply pressure again to help break the bond between the sash and frame.

Replace the Window

If you aren't able to get the window open, then it may need replacement. Wooden windows are subject to warping and damage due to the elements, and they may be at the end of their useful lifespan. Contact a professional window contractor for assistance in replacing your obsolete windows with new, low-maintenance units. 

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