At Sash Window Experts, our dedicated team of specialist carpenters have a deep understanding of the intricate mechanism of sash windows. With over 30 years’ professional experience, it’s our mission to restore the beautiful classic features and functions of period sash windows in homes across the South East.

How do Sash Windows Work?

At the heart of the traditional timber sash window is a vertical sliding mechanism. It’s how you operate the window to slide it open or closed. The double-hung windows are counterbalanced by two pairs of weights which are hidden out of view on either side of the window, which are hung on cords that run over a pulley wheel at the top of the frame.

Sash windows are designed so the system of sash cords, pulley and weights work together harmoniously. So, if one of the windows in your home refuses to slide open or shut with complete ease, chances are this functionality has become defective in some way.

At Sash Windows, we can take a professional look at your windows and carry out a wide range of sash window repairs and renovation services to restore the full function of your windows. This not only prolongs their lifespan but it also provides an effective solution to keep the heat inside, and draughts and noise out with double glazing.

Do All Sash Windows Have Pulleys?

The classic sash window design we all know and love is based on a system of pulleys and weights. However, not all sash windows operate in this way. The specific design and mechanism used can vary depending on the age and style of the window, as well as any modifications or replacements that may have been made over time.

You may find that older sash windows have different opening mechanisms, such as spring balances or spiral balances rather than pulleys and weights. These mechanisms serve the same purpose of counterbalancing the sashes, but they operate differently. Modern sash windows typically incorporate different technologies such as spring-loaded or pre-tensioned balances, which eliminate the need for pulleys altogether.

Whichever type of sash window design you have in your home, Sash Window Experts have a wealth of expertise to repair and restore your windows to their full functionality without losing their character.

Why Do Sash Window Cords Break?

Do you have a sash window that’s difficult to open, or doesn’t open at all? The cause may be snapped or worn sash cords. At Sash Window Experts, our experienced team will remove the sashes from the box frame and replace any sash cords that are no longer fit for purpose to get your window working smoothly again.

Sash window cords can break for a variety of reasons, the most common being:

  • Wear and tear – Over time, sash window cords can weaken and deteriorate due to regular use and exposure to the elements. The repeated opening and closing of the windows, as well as the weight of the sashes, can put strain on the cords, causing them to fray or snap.
  • Incorrect installation – If the cords weren’t installed properly in the first place, they’re more likely to break sooner. Improper alignment or incorrect tension can lead to increased stress on the cords, leading to premature failure.
  • Age and degradation – Sash window cords can become brittle and prone to breakages as they age. Exposure to sunlight, temperature changes and moisture can all degrade the cords over time, making them more susceptible to snapping.
  • Excessive weight or force – If too much force is applied to the window sashes, such as slamming them shut or forcefully tugging them open, it can put excessive stress on the cords and cause them to break. Similarly, if the sashes are too heavy for the cords to support them, it can lead to cord failure.
  • Lack of maintenance – Neglecting regular maintenance and care, such as lubricating the pulleys and checking the condition of the cords, can contribute to cord breakage. If the cords become frayed or damaged and aren’t promptly replaced, they’re more likely to break.

It’s important to look after your sash cords, and indeed the entire sash window, to ensure the longest lifespan. Contact Mark at Sash Window Experts for trusted, professional advice and attention for all your sash window needs.

How Long Does a Sash Cord Last?

The lifespan of sash cords can vary depending on several factors such as the quality of the cords, how often they’re used, and the level of maintenance they receive. Under normal circumstances, with proper care and maintenance, you can expect your sash cords to last for 10-20 years or even longer.

If you notice any signs of wear and tear or damage to the sash cords, we recommend acting quickly to have them replaced as soon as possible to avoid complications or damage to the window further down the line.

If one of the four sash cords is defective, it’s likely the others also need attention. That’s why we always check all four sash cords in a box sash window and usually have them all re-corded with our modern, improved sash cords. Double-glazed sash windows require an extra strong replacement cord due to the additional weight.

How Do You Replace a Sash Cord on a Sash Window?

Replacing the sash cords on a sash window can be complicated so it’s best left to the professionals. Here at Sash Window Experts, our tried and tested process for re-cording sash windows broadly follows these steps:

  1. Removing the window sash from the frame, which also involves removing any stops, parting beads and trim.
  2. Accessing the pulley and old cord on either side of the frame, by removing covers or access panels as needed.
  3. Cutting and removing the old cord and removing it from the pulley, detaching weights or other attachments as necessary.
  4. Measuring the length of the old cord and cutting a new one of the same length, ensuring it is sturdy enough for the weight of the window sash.
  5. Attaching the new cord by threading one end through the pulley and tying securely, then repeating for the other side.
  6. Reinstalling the sash into the frame, ensuring the new cords are properly aligned with the sash and pulleys.
  7. Testing the operation by opening and closing the window, making final adjustments as needed.
  8. Once the sash is operating smoothly, replacing stops, parting beads or trim that were removed earlier.

Before re-hanging the sash, we will clean and reattach the sash furniture and lubricate the pulley axles to ensure the window operates smoothly. The traditional pulley and weight system is a finely calibrated balance, so we always check the right weight required and correct the counterbalance weights and pulleys as necessary. Underweight sashes are a common occurrence since, interestingly, sashes lose weight gradually over the decades. Overweight sashes, on the other hand, tend to be the result of prior installation errors.

Complete Sash Window Renovation

For complete sash window renovation, the sashes will be removed from the box frame along with any paint build-up from the running surfaces. Bare timber will be primed as necessary. After preparation, we will discard the existing cords and beads and fit modern replacements. Draught proofing can also be replaced or added at the same time to make the window more efficient.

With proper repair and refurbishment, your period sash windows will glide smoothly and effortlessly between open and closed positions, and continue to give you many more years of enjoyment.

For more information about Sash Window Experts and how we can help maintain and preserve your home’s original sash windows, please call us for friendly advice at 01483 299587 or send us a short message. We look forward to hearing from you.

Arrange a No Obligation Survey With Mark

Hi, I’m Mark, owner of Sash Window Experts. I’d love to talk to you about restoring period windows. Please fill out the form or call me on 01403 602701 to arrange your FREE no obligation window survey and to discuss your requirements.

What Our Customers Say

Helen Thomas
2021-06-23
If I could clone you for all the other work we need to do over the next few years, I would! Thank you Mark for having such a good team in place. And huge thank you to Gary, Alex, John and Glen for taking such care of our windows and giving them what they needed after years (decades?) of neglect. Your attention to detail and 'doing it right' was very much appreciated, and your ability to solve problems was awesome. Helen & Tim, Godalming
Roxana Avanu
2020-08-11
Amazing service from start to finish, no issues and no drama. The name Sash Window Experts is well chosen. Mark and his team - Gary and John were extremely helpful and professional and the end product - new sash sound proof double glaze windows upstairs and the kitchen triple sash window restored was top quality. I am very grateful to Sash Window Experts.
Amy Clarke
2020-07-15
Cannot fault Mark and his team. We replaced the original sashes to our 1890's home with new like-for-like hardwood double glazed sash windows, and apart from being warmer, quieter, cleaner and altogether much smarter, you really wouldn't tell the difference - an amazing feat! They are absolutely beautiful windows, so well crafted and fitted, and the restoration of rot on the original box is imperceptible. Gary was friendly, clean, professional, and safe throughout the fitting, and very thoughtful in causing minimal disruption to the home. Absolutely thrilled with everything from the service to the price to the final finish. Delighted with them. Would recommend in a heartbeat.
Alison Fordham
2020-07-13
We were nervous about getting our Victorian French windows restored and had received a ridiculously high quote. Sash Window Experts came in at a good price, gave a timeframe that worked with our schedule and did a great job. All as promised. The fitter, Gary, put the doors back in with great care and took time made sure they worked smoothly and also discussed any queries with us. Definitely made the job value for money. Very happy customers! We are looking forward to beign able to open our doors again and enjoy the garden. Thank you Mark and Co!
Peter Jones
2020-06-04
Our house is Edwardian and has the original sash windows from 1906. I really want to make sure that any double glazed windows did not look out of place - so the woodwork, including the side bars etc should still be very thin to match the originals. I was fearing ending up with fat wooden bars but Mark took me to see a previous customer and I was happy to see the woodwork there and it put my mind at rest. We went for the thin Krypton windows. Now the windows are in they look very good and match very well. To be fair to everybody, we will not know until the winter how well they remedy our warmth and condensation issues in the house but are confident we made the right choice. Other suppliers would not do separate window panes and instead would only do a large window with a false wooden strip down the middle to make them look like two. We did not want that. The carpenters, Steve and Gary turned up on time (early actually) and got on with the job very efficiently and left no mess behind. I am very happy with the company and the windows.
Natasha Birley
2020-05-27
Mark and his team are amazing. They restored our sash windows and doors. Mark is really knowledgeable and passionate and explained the process to me so I knew exactly what they would be doing. Once the work commenced I was amazed by how well they draft proofed the windows. They took so much care and the guys were polite, tidy, timely and a joy to have around. I would absolutely recommend the team to anyone thinking of restoring their windows, they look AMAZING!
Rachael Smith
2020-05-22
Absolutely outstanding quality, value for money and service from Rob. This is the second time Rob has done work for us and we can highly recommend him. The sash windows are like new! Thanks Rob 😀
Jon Reed
2020-04-06
Used these guys to do a total refurbishment on the windows of my 1870s Victorian Villa style house. Incredibly happy with the work and the guys doing it are just superb. On time to the minute every day, clearly take pride in the work they do and super friendly. Would not hesitate to use again!
Geoff Parsons
2019-11-04
Excellent service from Mark. The windows installed last week. Look elegant and noise reduced considerably.
S Attewell
2019-10-28
Very pleased, very sound work done, very professional and friendly team. Highly recommended!!