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New cord sash vs spring

A number of our old double hung windows have broken ropes. They either don't open, or won't stay open. We thought we'd replace the rope, but then a repairperson mentioned replacing the old rope and pulleys with a spring opener. Said the windows could tilt in this way to clean. Any thoughts on this? Is it better than the cords?

Re: New cord sash vs spring

If the window frames have a removable panel to get to the weights, sash cord replacement is easy. If they don't then there may be considerably more work involved(removing mouldings, patching walls, and repainting etc). What your handyman seems to be recommending is 'replacement windows' as there's no easy way to create a tilt-in system with your existing windows.

As usual there are pros and cons involved, here's some of the cons: Replacements will probably cost more than repairs; Replacing less than all the windows leaves you with a mismatch which might not look good; Cheap replacements may not hold up well to heavy usage; Replacements won't be original to the style of the house which may matter to you. The pros: Replacements, properly installed, will pay for themselves with money saved through evergy efficiency within a few years; Replacements carefully installed won't require molding removal and repainting; Replacing single-pane windows with double pane windows usually adds value to the house.

From a carpenter's point of view(and I can do the job either way)it's often easier to replace windows than repair them; it's certainly faster and a bit more profitable for me too. I'd reccomend repairs only if there were weight access panels or if the house needed to remain as original as possible for historical reasons. If you know how to do it, replacing a sash cord isn't that bad of a job but many carpenters younger than 40ish(I'm telling my age!)just don't understand this due to not having dealt with it before. If you don't know how to do it the job will seem like a nightmare which will scare most of the younger carpenters off from the start which may be why your handyman recommends replacements!


Re: New cord sash vs spring

I think he is talking about new jamb liners, not a replacement sash. And I swear he said they'd tilt. He quoted us close to $200 per window. We're thinking of having a few done to see if we like it. I just wondered if the nonrope system was reliable. We could get replacements, but our windows are in fairly good shape with good, newer storms, so we'd like to keep them. Seems wasteful to replace them, even for some greater energy efficiency in the house. I'm kind of bugged by all the "green" remodeling that's being done these days. Even TOH. To take a perfectly fine 1200 sf house and add a huge "green" addition just doesn't seem that green to me. Thanks for the info!

Re: New cord sash vs spring

I guess I missed the 'tilt-in' episoses and I was unaware that these existed since I haven't run into them yet. It does sound like a really good idea though, and the price seems right too! The spring sash replacements do work well from what I've heard though I've never installed them and I'd forgotten about seeing them on TOH too, shame on me!

I'm of mixed opinion on the 'green' issue. On the one hand efficiency makes sense so long as it's cost effective, but on the other hand if it ain't broke then don't 'fix it'. I'm a sceptic by nature and sliding wood sash windows have hundreds of years of proven service; that can't be said of any of the newer systems or products. To me at least, that's something to consider!


Re: New cord sash vs spring

You can replace the cords or switch to spring balances, whichever you prefer.

Here’s a TOH video on replacing the cords:
This is supposed to be somewhat easy and take 1-2 hours per window.

Here’s a TOH video on installing spring balances:
This is supposed to be moderately easy and also take 1-2 hours.

Here’s another kind of invisible balance system:

One nice thing about switching to spring balances is that you can then insulate the weight pockets. Here’s a video on how to do that:

If you weather strip your windows, insulate the weight cavity, and use storm windows then you can make your old windows very energy efficient.

Check out this online article on weather stripping windows:

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