I live in a very old school (as in it was a high school) building turned condo.

I have four windows in the standard top pane, bottom pane double sash configuration. Each pane is about 3 feet wide, 4 feet tall and weights far more than it should. The bottom pane does tilt in towards the condo and the top has two securing locks in each top corner. In all of these windows, the locks are not both locked, and cold air is leaking in, increasing our heating bill.

So far, I've tried to lift the top sash on my own and was unable, as well as got 4 friends who were unable.

I'm wondering does anyone know of a good way to lift the top sash enough to lock it back in place? I'm thinking along the lines of a car jack system, but no jack is 4 feet tall (that I can get a hold of).

The Window

Detail 1

Detail 2

  • Can you take a photo and post it here? Upload to imgur and post the link, someone will inline it for you.
    – ChrisF
    Nov 4, 2012 at 18:16
  • imgur.com/a/gB4Dn for some reason it's in duplicate... First is a view of the whole window. I'm a touch over 6 feet, so the window's a good 8 feet. Second pic is the locking mechanism on the top of the top sash. Third is showing the top of the bottom sash with that mechanism to fold out the bottom sash, in case that's useful. Nov 4, 2012 at 23:10
  • If you put a piece of 4x4 on a standard car jack, you should be able to extend the jacks range. However, if the window cannot be moved by 4 people, it's likely stuck in some way and not just heavy.
    – Tester101
    Nov 5, 2012 at 12:18

2 Answers 2


You would not need to have a jack to be able to lift something up. Through the use of some pieces of framing material (such as common 2x4's as they are called here in the USA) you can pry and lift things with relative ease by the mechanical advantage of a lever. Cut the vertical piece to just the right length for the application and then with the help of at least one of those four friends you may be able to get the upper window into place.

enter image description here

Some things to think about with this.

1) The window may actually be stuck in its frame and unable to move. The wood over the years could have swelled and locked the window in place.

2) Coats of paint applied to the window and the frame may have locked in the window as well and thus not be movable at all -- unless the paint was all removed first.

3) If you do try the lever bar approach shown in my picture make sure to apply the pressure to the window near the frame under the side rail of the window. To apply in the middle away from the rails will put undue pressure on the glass and could result in breakage and / or personal injury.

4) Applying excessive pressure in one spot, either on the window itself or on the sill area below can damage the wood. This would be especially true for windows that are made of softer type woods like pine.

5) When using a lever scheme take the time to plan out the activity and how it will be setup. Without careful setup and applying pressure to the lever in the correct direction you could cause the fulcrum board to kick out sideways and pose a danger to either yourself, the window glass, something outside or someone below the window area.

  • I agree with everything you said in your answer. Caution must be used to prevent breaking the glass. You could also use a jack with a piece of 2X4 as an extension to an other piece of 2X4 cut to the same width as the window, then after being sure paint etc is removed, jack the window up. This method will assure even pressure is applied on both sides at the same time. Nov 4, 2012 at 11:36
  • hmmm that's a good though, though I'm wondering how secure that really is... is there a good way to make sure the vertical 2x4 stays locked and not slips out, possibly damaging the screen behind the bottom sash? Nov 4, 2012 at 23:13

The sashes were most likely counterbalanced by an iron weight. Frequently over time the rope that attached the sash to the weight breaks. If you try to push the sash up the rope becomes jammed and wedges the window sash against the frame. The most common retention method for the sash is a trim board that runs from the window sill to the top of the frame. The board is usually held in place by screws. Don't be surprised if some one has nailed it in place if the screw holes became stripped. By removing the board the lower sash can be pivoted inward and removed. Note that you may have to remove the ropes attached to the sash. You will hopefully find a thin board about 3/8 of an inch thick runnung from the sill to the top of the frame that is retaining the upper sash. Carefully pry it toward the center of the window opening. It may be very dry and brittle. Once this parting bead is removed the upper sash can be removed just like the lower. You will now be able to remove the remnants of rope that are causing the binding. At this point you can replace the ropes or cut a strip of wood to place below the upper sash to maintain it in the up position Access to the weight is via a small opening in the frame just above the sill.

  • I took out the bottom sash today in search of a counter weight. Not only did I learn that the windows is actually 110 pounds and unwieldy but also that it looks like there is a plastic/rubber runner along the space between the sash and the frame which seems to be holding it up. As far as I could see there was no counter-weight. Thank you for the comment though, I managed to learn more about the problem (and windows in general), if not find the solution. Nov 4, 2012 at 23:16

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