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How to Fix a Double-Hung Window That Won't Stay Up

Ben Kissam
Written by Ben Kissam
Updated June 7, 2021
three double hung windows on front of house

© tamas - stock.adobe.com

Fret not: You only need a few minutes and a flathead screwdriver to fix a double-hung window that won't stay up

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Having a window that keeps falling down can be frustrating. In some cases, it could even be a safety hazard or keep your home from staying cool in the warm summer months.

The good news is, fixing a “dropped” double-hung window doesn’t necessarily mean you need to replace the window or even hire someone to look at it. In fact, it’s one of a handful of inexpensive, common window repairs. There’s a good chance that the balance shoe is simply out of alignment, which can be fixed in just a few minutes.

This six-step guide will walk you through how to fix dual-sash windows that keep falling down.

How to Fix a Double-Hung Window That Won’t Stay Up

  • Project Difficulty: 1/5

  • Time Needed To Complete: 3-5 minutes

  • Tools/Materials Required: Flathead screwdriver

Material Cost (DIY vs. Hiring a Pro)

If your windows are old or you’re worried about damaging the window frame, you may consult the help of a pro. Hiring a window repair specialist to diagnose and fix your window will cost about $100. Replacing a double-hung window altogether will start at around $200.

However, repairing a double-hung window, in many cases, is an easy project you can do yourself. If you have a flathead screwdriver lying around, it won’t cost you much more than a few minutes of your time.

1. Find the Balance Shoe

Each section of glass on a double-hung window is called a sash. On a double-hung window, there are two sashes: the top sash and lower sash. These panes of glass slide up and down on pulleys in opposite directions.

Commonly, the lower sash is the one that won’t stay up. (In either case, though, the solution to fix your window is the same.) 

To get started, find the balance shoe. Quite often in the case of double-hung windows that won’t stay up, the balance shoe has made its way to the bottom of your window frame. You may have accidentally moved it down there by forcing your windows shut so you could lock them at night.

2. Locate the Tilt Pin

Each window sash has a tilt pin on either side, located in the balance shoe. Tilt pins allow the sashes to open in an outward fashion for easy window cleaning and repair.

Find the tilt pin. It’s a small piece of metal shaped like a ‘U.’ There should be one located on either side of the window frame.

3. Unlock the Balance Shoe

The U-shape means your tilt pin is in a locked position. To repair a double-hung window, you’ll need to unlock it.

Grab your flathead screwdriver. Place the screwdriver into the pin vertically and gently turn to the left 45-degrees to unlock. It should resemble a “C” shape when unlocked.

4. Reset the Pin

If your balance shoe is sitting at the bottom of the window frame, you’ll need to reset it. Position it approximately 2 inches from the bottom of the lower sash.

Once you’ve done that, relock the pin. To do this, put your flathead screwdriver back in the balance shoe and gently turn the tilt pin up. It should relock into the “U” position.

5. Adjust the Lower Sash

Move your window down to the point where you’ve reset (and relocked) your balance shoe.

Now, you’ll want to tilt your lower sash outward so you can realign the bottom of your window with the balance shoe, which helps it stay up. To do this, remove the tilt latches at the top of the lower sash. Tilt your window out and allow it to rest horizontally. 

(FYI: Double-hung windows have tilt lashes on both the lower and upper sash.)

Give a gentle but firm pound on the left and right sides of the window at the point where the balance shoe and lower sash meet. (Not too hard, but enough to get them back in alignment.) 

You should feel and hear a small pop when the tilt pin and balance shoe reengage.

6. Reset the Window (and Test)

Finally, snap the lower sash back into place. Make sure the tilt latches are fully hooked into the frame. Test your window by moving it up and down. When you stop, does it stay in place? If so, great! You’re all done.

two double hung windows with yellow frames on a white house with a white picket fence

© Dolores Harvey - stock.adobe.com

Common Troubleshooting Tips

If your double-hung window slides or still won’t stay up, there are a few things you can do to troubleshoot.

  • Go through the steps again: This time, be certain the pin locks and the balance shoe and tilt pin reengage. Try a slightly harder strike to get the pins to lock. (Still be fairly gentle, though. Too much force could break it.)

  • Perform the same steps on the upper sash: This could help your window return to alignment.

  • Replace the balance shoe: If the balance shoe in your window is old or broken, you may need to replace it. They cost between $5 and $10 at most hardware stores.

If your windows (or the frames) are old, you might also consider replacing them. 

Window replacement costs much more than a simple balance shoe replacement—starting at $200— but might be worth it under certain circumstances. For example, if you’re having trouble locking your windows at night, there are severe chips or cracks in the glass, or you live somewhere warm and heat is being trapped in the house.

A local window repair specialist can diagnose and tackle both simple and complex double-hung window issues and get yours working properly again.

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