How to Replace Sash Cords
The Shipshape Home
IT IS surprising how many persons have little or no practical knowledge of the mechanism that balances the ordinary double-hung windows which they pull up and down every day. Consequently, when a sash cord breaks and the window fails to operate, they have to pay for the expensive services of a mechanic to do a job that can be done very easily by any home owner, whether man or woman. All the tools needed for the task of replacing the cord are a chisel, a hammer, and perhaps a screw driver.
A length of the best quality sash cord should be obtained before the job is begun. As a safe measure for length, without having the old cord as a guide, use the distance from the window sill to the pulley, plus 8 in. Sash cord can be bought at any hardware store, and no substitute should be used. With the cord ready for use, proceed with the work as follows:
Pry off the window stop with a chisel, as shown in Fig. 1. This needs to be done only on the side where the broken cord is. If the cords should be in need of repair on both sides, (Continued on page 99) it may be necessary eventually to remove both stops, depending upon whether the stop covers the “pocket” piece, which can be seen in Fig. 4.
(Continued from page 98)
Next, pull the sash out at the side where the stop has been removed and slide it out of its groove at the opposite side. It is well to remember at this point that glass is now being handled. Do not make any abrupt or violent movements that might add the job of reglazing to the one already at hand.
The cord which is not broken must be removed. This is done with the aid of a screw driver or other sharp instrument as shown in Fig. 2; just pry the cord out of its groove. Sometimes it will be found that a shingle nail has been driven into the knot. This makes it somewhat harder to loosen. Tie a large loop knot on the cord before releasing it so that the weight will hang suspended in the frame with this knot against the pulley.
If the upper sash is the one needing attention, the “parting strip” must next be removed. That is the strip or stop against which the outside of the lower sash and the inside of the upper sash slide up and down. Sometimes this strip is tightly stuck in the paint and must be cut loose with a chisel or other edge tool as shown in Fig. 5. If this is not done it will tear the wood when it is forced out of its groove. (Continued on page 100) After the paint is cut, the strip is pried out carefully. When doing this set the chisel firmly in the wood (Fig. 3) and do not let it slip. Pull the upper sash down to the sill and loosen the strip from the top downward. Then lift the strip up to make it clear the “meeting” or lower rail of the upper sash. Now the sash itself may be removed by loosening the cords on each side as directed for the lower sash.
(Continued, from page 99)
The “pocket” piece (Fig. 4) is pried out after the one or two screws which hold it in place have been removed. This piece is sometimes located in front of the parting strip and partly under the window stop. If it is located as shown here, however, the parting strip must be removed regardless of whether the lower sash only needs attention, since the pocket cannot be opened otherwise.
Inside in the opening thus revealed will be found the released sash weight—an iron casting.
Now tie a knot on one end of the new cord, similar to the one found inserted in the edge of the window, and secure this knot in its proper place. Nail it if a nail was used in the old cord.
Put the window back in the frame and insert the free end of the cord in the open pulley. Push the window to the extreme top and if it will not stay there, fasten it with a wedge or have someone hold it. The loose end of the cord will probably be easy to find at the open pocket. If you cannot get the end of the cord in this way, pull it out entirely and make what is called a carpenter's “mouse,” which is simply a piece of soft lead, chain or other small weight tied to the end of a string. Slip the weight over the pulley, tie the string on the end of the sash cord and pull the cord through.
Stand the weight on the window sill and while it is in that position, tie the cord taut as (Continued on page 101) shown in Fig. 6. This will leave the cord the correct length. Study the old knots for the type that will not slip.
All carpenters, of course, do not follow exactly the same method in doing a job of this kind, but the process as outlined is a good one for the beginner to follow.
The process of assembling the window is simply a reverse of the one already used. Take care not to drive long nails where they will interfere with the action of the weights. Care also should be exercised in nailing the window stop back in position. It is well to put nails in all the old holes just as a matter of covering the holes even if a few new ones must be used to add the needed strength.
It is not amiss at this time to examine the other cords to see if they are worn enough to require attention and thus save the trouble of having to do the job over again SOON.-EMANUEL E. ERICSON.