How to access your sash windows parts for any required repair

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If you’ve just moved into a period home with traditional sash windows, you are likely looking to repair these wooden windows.

Often, the windows on period properties require some form of repair. This could be as straightforward as repainting them, but some require work to window mechanisms to get them functioning again correctly.

If your wooden windows require any repairs, here is everything you need to know about accessing every part of the window.

We will focus on something other than individual repairs in this article. Still, we have other articles on our website detailing several repairs on sash windows that can help if you identify areas of concern and repair them.

How to access your sash windows for all repairs

Some historic windows have what’s called a knockout panel. This can be removed to access the sash cords, weights and pulleys and saves you a lot of time in dismantling the window frame to gain access.

It’s located on the side of the window frame. It is a rectangle, usually around two inches wide and eight inches tall. A visible horizontal line on the window frame will let you know if you have a knockout panel.


As the name suggests, this can be knocked out to remove it. However, before this, you should score the paint with a knife to break the bond over the panel. And rather than knocking out the panel, use a putty knife to pry it off gently.

Once the panel is removed, you can access the original sash windows’ cords, pulleys and weights. If you can’t see a knockout panel, there is still a way to access all these components. Let’s explore that next.

Take out the trim, and the interior stops.

The window trim and interior stops for the sashes need to be removed first. This task is usually performed when companies fit double glazing to existing sash windows. Use a knife to score the paint and any caulk around the trim and stops. After this, use a thin putty knife to get underneath the trim and gently pull it away. Once it starts, you can use a pry bar to obliterate it.

Ideally, your window trim will come off intact. However, take care. Window trim is held in place with nails, and there may even be a rouge screw or two in there. If you see any screws, remove these first, and be careful around any nails.

Once the trim has been removed, the interior parting stops can be removed. These prevent the bottom sash from being removed. These can be removed in a very similar way as the trim, but they do usually split and will need to be replaced if they do.

After this, the bottom sash can be lifted out and removed. If the sash has been painted shut, cutting the paint with the knife first ensures you won’t damage anything. If the sash has been nailed shut, grab your pry bar and gently pry it open.

It is worth marking each window’s bottom sash to know where it goes. Find a place hidden from view when the window is back together, and add a number or letter (whatever will help you keep track the best).

Assessing the window frame

Original windows can have rotten wood, which we will look for now. Explore these first if the paint is peeling off the frame in areas. You’ll look for small holes and discolouration in the paint or wood.

You can press on the wood in these areas to see if it is soft and then explore the extent of the rot. A simple chemical rot treatment can be used if the rot isn’t too bad. If the rot in your wooden window is awful, you may need to remove and rebuild areas of the frame.

If the window has broken glass panes, now is a good time to replace them. Remove the glazing bars from one side of the window, clean up any putty, install your new glass, add in new putty and reinstall the glazing bars.

Assessing the ropes and pulleys

Sash weights are often missing from period windows for various reasons. If your windows are tough to open, chances are that the weights are missing, the cord is damaged, or the pulleys need attention.

Now that both sashes have been removed from the window, you can remove the frame from the opening. This will expose the window mechanism; from there, you can identify any issues. Sash weights are tricky nowadays, but you can use washers or nuts, for example, to get the balance right.

While having access to the mechanism, it is worth lubricating the pulley and changing the cord. Sash cords deteriorate over time, so replacing them now ensures your window will be nice and smooth. While you have the window frame apart, it is also a good idea to check each component for rot and treat it where needed.

Clean up

Once all of the repairs to the window and frame are completed, it is time for a good cleaning. There will be a lot of grime on your sash windows from over the years, so a mild degreaser can help to break this down. In almost every case of sash window repair, the windows will require painting, and this means sanding every component until it is nice and smooth and filling in any nail or screw holes you come across.

Putting everything back together

Once everything is clean and sanded smooth, you can install all components again, ensuring everything returns to the same place. Once the window is in and working correctly, you can mask off the glass, prime and paint the windows with good quality exterior grade paint, sanding in between coats.

Are your windows in need of restoration?

If this sounds like too much work for you, and you would like an expert team of sash window repair specialists to look at your windows, we can help. We have a range of sash window repair services to improve your home’s energy and thermal efficiency without changing your windows’ original design.

We use traditional methods and the latest window technology to bring your windows back to life. We don’t do sash window replacements; we do restorations.

We restore the original features of your timber windows while bringing them into the 21st century. Please get in touch to learn more about our timber sash window restoration services. We are sash window experts, and we’re here to help you.

Ref: 3258.28289

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