What are window weights? (with photo)

Window weights are common on double-hung windows.

Window weights are lead weights that counterbalance the weight of a window frame – the moving part of the window – in older homes. They are common in double windows, where the two sashes move on independent tracks; the upper one can be lowered and the lower one raised, which allows for a circular flow of air, hot air coming out the top and cooler air coming out the bottom. As older windows are made of heavy materials, lifting them can be difficult, and without a counterweight, the frame can break, potentially causing the glass to break. The solution is a polyan top of the window sash, with a cord attached to the sash, and inside the window frame, window weights that are exactly or nearly equal to the weight of the sash. There are two window weights per sash, one on each side of the window.

The ‘frame cord’ is the rope that connects the window frame to the window weights. Over time, these strings can wear out and sometimes break, causing the window weights to drop. Because weight cavities, also called window weight wells, in the window frame sometimes occupy the entire height of the house, window weights can drop from the second floor to the ground floor.

Weighted windows are difficult to open if only one of the two window weights is in place, so if you have a broken sash cord and a dropped weight, you must replace the cable and weight. Unless your home was built with small access panels that open to the weight reservoirs, you will have to gain access to the weight reservoirs by removing part of the window frame. You can buy new window weights and sash cords at stores that specialize in home improvement online.

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If you are renovating an old house with double windows whose weights have long since fallen to the bottom, it can be tempting to put off replacing the window weights until later by propping the windows open with a stick or other obstruction. However, unbalanced windows can be very dangerous, especially if you have young children. It is recommended that you do not open the windows until you have replaced the window weights.

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