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Replacing A Double-Hung Window Cord

Removing The Cord
Sometimes the cords used to raise and lower double-hung windows break, fray or simply give up the ship. Replacing them requires that you remove the affected sash(es) from the frame. If you're simply replacing a worn cord, removing one sash should be sufficient; if you're replacing the weights, you may need to remove both.

1. To remove the lower sash from the inside, you'll first remove the stops by using a utility knife to sever the paint between the jambs and the stops. Next pry off the stops with a chisel, keeping the nails in tact. If screws were used, you'll have to remove them. Tilt the lower sash to remove it from the frame. Next untie the worn cord(s) and pull each out of its groove. Drive a nail through each where it enters the groove or secure them with locking pliers to keep them from slipping into the jamb.
2. If the upper sash is also affected, you can free it by first removing the parting strips (the vertical stops tucked into the channels) that hold it in place. Sandwich each strip between two narrow pieces of wood or thick cardboard and pull it free with a pair of pliers. Tilt the upper sash and remove it.
3. Along one side of the jamb you'll find the access plate. Remove the plate screws to reveal the weights.
4. This may be a good time to replace your cords with more durable chain or nylon ropes. Whatever you use, you'll need to attach the replacement cords or chains to the old cords to pull them through the inside channels. Tape or tie the new cords to the ends of the old ones, remove the nails or pliers and pull cords out through the access opening until the new cord or chain is installed and disconnect them from the old cords. Insert the end of the new cord or chain through the sash weight and replace them inside the access opening. Reinstall the upper sash, if you removed it. When the sash is up, the weights should dangle about 2 inches above the windowsill (or stool). If needed, shorten the new cords or chains. Once they're the right length and are properly installed in the sash channels, replace the access plates. Reinstall the lower sash if you removed it.
Hammer Need more help replacing a window cord? Visit our Doors and Windows forum and get great tips from other do-it-yourselfers!