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How can you open the top of a double-hung window when you are short and elderly? I have air conditioners on the bottom of the windows, but I would like some fresh air on cool days. I am in no shape to remove the air conditioners. I thought perhaps something like a garden hoe might work.

Can you help?

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    This isnt really home improvement but if you're able a step stool would do the trick. – James Jul 29 '14 at 18:06
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    Ask a grandchild? – iLikeDirt Jul 29 '14 at 18:06
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    Screw eye in the window frame and a push/hook pole is what our elementary school used. Pre-airconditioning everywhere era and one of the kids got assigned to be window monitor. – Fiasco Labs Jul 29 '14 at 19:01
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    Be careful. Many air conditioner installations lock the lower sash by screwing a brace into the upper sash. To free the upper sash, you may need to move the locking brace to the jamb (side panels) of the lower sash. – bib Jul 29 '14 at 22:46
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Many air conditioners have a "fresh air" setting; at that setting, they blow air from outdoors into the house. Although it does cost electricity, it's better than opening the window because it moves are even on dead-still days.

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With a double-hung window, if the lower sash is raised and there is an air-conditioner in the lower sash area (as you describe), you can't open the upper sash because it slides down into the space where the air conditioner is.

These windows have raise/lower assist devices called sash balances. They may be spring loaded cables, weighted ropes/cables with pulleys, torsion spring devices, etc., depending on design and age. If your windows are difficult to raise or lower check the operation of the sash balances, remove paint from surfaces which may be causing sticking, and lubricate the sash channels with stick wax.

  • That assumes that the air conditioners fill the entire lower sash space, Jimmy, and that the windows have sash weights; many newer (especially vinyl) windows don't have them. – TDHofstetter Aug 29 '14 at 14:32
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If it's difficult to open the top sash, I have a hunch these are older windows. Issues with older windows:

  • old wood double hung windows had heavy sashes. To make it easier to open/close, there were lead weights on a pulley to help balance it. In old houses, these are often broken or removed.
  • top sashes aren't opened all that much. Years of seasonal humidity, grime, etc can 'fuse' the sash in place.
  • same as above, they are often painted shut.

The ideal solution is to replace the windows--or at least the sashes with replacement inserts. Alternatively, move the air conditioner to it's own opening so that the bottom sashes are available to you. Of course that's a more involved solution requiring a new hole be made in your wall.

Another option is to upgrade the window unit and replace with a mini-split system. A mini-split air conditioner is essentially a window unit cut in half. Then noisy part sits outside, the quiet part you hang on the wall. Then you drill a tiny 1/4" hole to let the pipes between the two in and out. This frees up your window completely.

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