Sash Window Issues: Understanding Blockages and Stuck Situations

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Sash Windows Refurbish specializes in providing repair and restoration services for wooden windows and doors in the UK, as well as various types of carpentry. During the process of fulfilling orders, we utilize a range of tools and paints, including saws, sprays, primers, resins, and adhesives. With more than 20 years of experience in carpentry, we have tested and used various brands and types of work tools, making us well-equipped to offer helpful advice on selecting the right tools and paints for your needs. Read more ...

Sash windows, with their timeless charm and classic design, are a beloved feature in many homes. However, these elegant windows are not without their problems. Homeowners often find themselves facing the frustrating issue of a sash window that won’t budge. Whether it’s a sash window that can’t close, won’t open, or is completely stuck, these problems can disrupt the daily routine and compromise the security of your home.

Causes of Blockages and Stuck Sash Windows

  • Snapped Sash Cord: One of the common culprits behind a stuck sash window is a snapped sash cord. The sash cord plays a vital role in the smooth operation of the window. When it snaps, the window can get jammed open, making it impossible to close securely.
  • Detached Weight: If the window’s counterweight becomes detached, the sash window can become unbalanced, making it difficult to open or close. This imbalance often results in the window getting stuck midway.
  • Cord Displacement: Cord displacement is another issue that can render a sash window immovable. When the cord slips out of its groove or becomes entangled, the window might get jammed in an awkward position, making it hard to open or close properly.
  • Separated Mortice and Tenon Joint: A separated mortice and tenon joint can cause the window frame to warp, preventing smooth movement. This issue is particularly common in older sash windows, where wear and tear over the years can lead to joint separation, making the window hard to open or close.
  • Foreign Object Interference: Sometimes, foreign objects find their way into the window tracks, obstructing the movement of the sash. Whether it’s a small piece of debris or a child’s toy, these obstructions can jam the window, making it challenging to open or close.
  • Recent Window Painting: Surprisingly, even a fresh coat of paint can lead to sash window problems. If the window is painted shut without proper precautions, the paint can seal the window edges, making it almost impossible to open.

How to Secure a Blocked Sash Window

  • Dealing with a Snapped Sash Cord: When a sash cord snaps, it’s essential to replace it promptly. This involves removing the part of the window frame covering the weights, extracting the old cord, and threading a new one through. Properly secured cords ensure smooth movement and prevent the window from getting stuck open or closed.
  • Sash Cord Jammed Within the Frame: If the sash cord gets jammed within the frame, it requires careful manoeuvring. Opening up the window frame and realigning the cord within its groove can often resolve this issue, allowing the window to move freely again.
  • Window Stuck Open Due to Cord Displacement and Nail Jamming: Cord displacement and nail jamming can lead to a sash window getting stuck open. In such cases, it’s necessary to inspect the cord’s position, realign it if needed, and address any nails or obstacles that might be causing the jam. Regular maintenance can prevent these issues from arising.
  • Issues After Window Painting: If a sash window has been painted shut, it’s crucial to carefully break the paint seal. This involves using a utility knife to cut through the painted edges and gently prying the window open. Once the window is open, removing excess paint and applying a lubricant to the tracks can prevent future sticking.

Frequently Asked Questions:

How to Unjam a Sash Window?

Unjamming a sash window requires identifying the cause of the jam and addressing it accordingly. Whether it’s a displaced cord, detached weight, or foreign object obstruction, diagnosing the issue is the first step. Once identified, follow the appropriate steps to fix the problem, ensuring smooth window operation.

How to Unlock a Sash Window from the Outside?

Unlocking a sash window from the outside might seem challenging, but it’s often a matter of finding the right access point. Check for any removable stops or panels on the window frame that can be taken off to reach the latch. With careful manoeuvring, you can unlock the window and address the underlying issue causing the blockage.

How to Unblock a Painted Shut Sash Window?

Unblocking a painted-shut sash window requires patience and precision. Start by cutting through the paint seal with a sharp utility knife, being careful not to damage the wood. Once the window is open, remove excess paint using a scraper or sandpaper. Lubricate the tracks to prevent future sticking, ensuring the window moves freely.

Are sash windows stuck in winter?

If sash windows are stuck in winter, it could be due to the wood swelling from moisture. To fix this, try running a knife along the edges to break the paint seal, then gently tap the frame with a mallet. If the issue persists, consider sealing gaps in the window frames during warmer months to prevent moisture buildup.

Why is my sash window not going down?

Your sash window might not be going down due to various reasons, such as a worn-out sash cord, damaged pulleys, or paint buildup along the tracks. Inspect these components to identify the issue. If you’re unsure or unable to fix it yourself, consider contacting a professional window repair service for assistance.

About the author

Glen Ramsey, who presently holds the positions of customer support and content manager, is a cherished member of the Sash Window Refurbish team. He is in a unique position to provide advice on all questions pertaining to the renovation of historic windows because he has a wealth of experience in all elements of window renovation, dealing with clients regularly and assisting them in choosing the best window-related course of action. He oversees the creation of information for all of our platforms in his capacity as content manager, including web content and other materials. Glen has witnessed the whole gamut of Sash Window Refurbish's window restoration activities, from our work on significant listed Georgian homes to a wide variety of smaller-scale private residential projects.


My technician Andrew replaced all my sash windows that had rotten sills. Accessing the rotten sills was not an easy task. He explained to me what needed to be done in order to fix the problem. He is a great person and I’m happy that he was the one who did the job. He is reliable, tidy, friendly and very professional. I highly recommend him.



I hired Andrew and Alex a while back to repair my damaged sash windows. They were was very considerate and very patient as he did his job. A few days ago, I had another problem with one of my sash lock keys and I called him again to come and fix the problem. I’m very impressed that Liam responded quickly and he not only fixed the problem but he also gave me a spare key. What a great after sales service!

Alan W.


I’m very impressed with the new windows that Andrew installed and also the reconditioning job that he did on other sash windows. The quality of his work is by far more superior than what we got when we hired another company a few years back. We will certainly hire him again if any window work arises

Kelly (Sleaford)


Our decorator referred us to Andrew because some of the work needed a window expert. Andrew together with our decorator did a fantastic job. The work was done efficiently and to the highest standards. Andrew is understanding, committed and very professional. I recommend him without any hesitation.

Steaven Reader


Alex did a great job in fixing windows in our terraced house. The windows were broken, frames damaged and the wood was also rotten. Alex's job was high quality and he did it pretty fast. I was also very impressed that he was considerate of my son’s asthma condition and maintained cleanliness. Top work.



Andrew just recently replaced three sash windows in my Edwardian house. He also repaired and replaced some sills and draught proofed three windows. In addition to that, he also did some carpentry work. What I like the most about Liam is that he did a clean job. He is very professional and always updated me about the timescales and costs. He also did his job with minimal disruptions. I highly recommend him.

Cris M.