How to Fix Problems with Sticking Windows

Sticking Windows

Sticking windows can often be a problem in older homes. Even in newer homes, windows may become difficult to open and close. There are a number of things that can cause this and, depending on your windows and your situation, a few different ways you can fix the problem.

Here are a few of the causes and possible solutions:

  • Humidity and wooden windows
  • Paint, stain or sealing material in the seams
  • Hidden mechanical issues
  • Settling issues
  • Worn out windows


Let’s take a closer look at each point.

Swollen wood windows may need a bit of drying

Often with older, wooden windows moisture becomes a problem. In high humidity, windows can expand. If the issue isn’t addresses, the frames can stick. If you force the window open, you may cause damage to the window or the surrounding structure.

Solution: Assuming the windows are sound and properly sealed, running your air conditioner should go a long way toward fixing the problem. If humidity is very high, a dehumidifier may need to be added for assistance. Sealing around the exterior windows and frames and painting or sealing the windows on the exterior can help manage the problem in the future.

Paint, stain or sealant obstruction

Maybe you decided to change the color of the window frames? Were you a little bit untidy with your decorating, or did you get a bit too enthusiastic with the brush? If so, you probably know the problem – painted shut windows. The same thing can occur with stain or even caulk.

Solution: Try sliding a sharp blade along the line of the painted shut window. Often when you cut the paint, the window will open easily. You may need to tidy up the paintwork afterward.

If a blade doesn’t work, it could be the paint has seeped deeper into the window frame tracks. Using a block of wood and hammer, gently bang along the side of the window frames. The hammering should break the seal and get the window opening again.

It is best to try these jobs as soon as possible after painting or sealing the windows.

Faulty window mechanism

With any window material, you may have sticking issues for no obvious reason. This may mean your problems are within the window itself. There may be some obstruction inhibiting the movement of the sash that’s not readily obvious.

Solution: If you’re handy yourself, you may be able to disassemble your window and identify the issue. If not, call a professional and have them evaluate your window for obstructions or improper function.

Settling Issues

Sometimes the problem isn’t with the windows but with the home itself. You may get some normal settling as a home ages but this can also be indicative of a larger problem. If you’re seeing similar problems with sticking doors and possibly even cracks in your drywall, you may have issues with your foundation.

Solution: If the problem is widespread, you might be best served to consult with a general contractor or even a foundation specialist. At the very least, you can identify the extent of the problem and explore options.

Sometimes the windows need replacing

If windows are very old or beyond reasonable repair costs, it may be time to replace them. Even with proper maintenance, age is bound to catch up to any window and the mechanisms will seize or stop working.

Solution: A professional replacement project from an experienced and trusted supplier may be the only option. For a guide to window replacement costs take a look at our free window replacement calculator.



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