If you’re thinking about replacing your casement
windows because they’re drafty, fogged
up or just hard to open, consider this: You
can fix most of the problems yourself for a fraction of
the cost of new windows—and it won’t take you more
than an hour or two per window.
In this story, we’ll walk you through the fixes for the
most common casement window problems. (Casement
windows are the type that swing like doors.) You
won’t need any specialty tools, and the materials are
available from most window manufacturers or online
window supply companies.
Although your windows may look different
from the ones shown here, the
techniques for removing the
sash and fixing problems
Figure A: Casement Window Operation
Figure A: Casement Window Operation
When you turn the handle, the operator moves the crank
arm and the split arm operator. The split arm operator
then opens the window sash. Casement window operators
come in several styles. They may look complex, but they're
easy to disconnect, remove and replace.
Fix a stripped crank handle
If you turn your window handle and nothing happens,
the gears on your handle, crank operator shaft or both are
probably stripped. Take off the handle and look for signs
of wear. If the teeth are worn, replace the handle (available from manufacturers, window dealers, or search online for “window replacement parts”). If the shaft is worn,
you can replace the whole operator (see the next fix). But
here’s a home remedy to try first.
Start by backing out the setscrew to remove the handle
(some newer handles don’t have setscrews and simply
pull off—and this fix won’t work). If you have a folding
handle, mark where the setscrew is on the operator shaft
when the window is closed and the handle
is folded up. Remove the handle
and file the shaft so the setscrew
can lock onto the shaft (photo). The metal is tough; it’ll
take about 15 minutes to get a
flat side. Or use a rotary tool
with a grinder bit to speed
up the job. Vacuum the shavings out of the operator so they won’t harm the moving
Reattach the handle with a longer setscrew (sold at
hardware stores). If you open and close the window a
lot, this fix may not hold up in the long run.
Replace a stubborn crank operator
If the splines on the crank operator shaft are worn or broken
off, the gears don’t turn easily or at all, then it’s time to
replace the crank operator.
Don’t worry if you can’t find the make, model or serial number of the
crank operator. You just need a picture. Snap a digital photo,
email it to a window replacement parts company and the company will sell you a new one. Or mail the
company a print photo. You can also look at online catalogs
at the replacement parts companies to find an operator that
To replace the operator, first take the crank arm off the
sash. Most crank arms slip out of a notch on the guide track
on the sash (Photo 1). Others are pried off with a flathead
screwdriver, or a channel is unscrewed from along the bottom of the sash. If the operator also contains a split arm
operator, unhook that, too (Photo 2).
Slide or pry off the operator cover. If you have a removable
cover, cut along the casement cover with a utility knife
to slice through any paint or stain that seals it on the window
jamb. Remove the trim screws along the top of the
casement cover. Gently pry the cover loose (Photo 3).
Be careful—the cover can easily break! Unscrew the crank
operator. Set the new operator in place, aligning it with the
existing screw holes, and screw it to the jamb. If the cover
isn’t removable, crank
operator screws will be
accessible on the exterior
of the window.
Fix a sticking window
If you have a window that drags against the frame when you
open it, close the window and examine it from the outside.
The sash should fit squarely and be centered in the frame.
If not, you can adjust the position of the sash by slightly
moving the hinge channel. (If the window is centered and
square but still drags, see the next fix.)
You can move the channel at the top or the bottom of
the window, depending on where the sash is dragging
(but don’t move both channels). Start by taking out the
sash (Photos 1 and 2). If the hinge arm is screwed to the sash,
see ‘Replace a fogged sash’ below.
Mark the hinge channel location on the frame, then
unscrew the channel. Fill the screw holes with epoxy (for
vinyl windows) or wood filler (for wood windows). Filling
the holes keeps the screws from realigning with their old
locations when you reinstall the channel. Scrape the filled
holes smooth before the epoxy sets. Place the channel back
on the jamb, about 1/8 in. over from the mark (move the channel away from the side of the sash that’s dragging), drill
1/8-in. pilot holes and then reinstall it (Photo 3).
Replace a sagging hinge
Over time, hinge arms that support heavy windows
can start to sag, causing the sash to hit the
frame in the lower corner that’s opposite the
hinge. First make sure the window sash is square
and centered in the window opening. If it’s not,
see the previous fix. To eliminate drag in a window
that fits squarely, replace the hinge arms at
the top and the bottom of the window. You can
buy the hinges at window hardware supply stores.
Remove the sash from the window. The hinge
arms are located near a corner or in the middle of
the window frame. Unscrew the hinge arms from
the window, then install the new ones in the
Seal a drafty window
Weather stripping often becomes loose, worn or distorted
when the sash drags or when the strip gets sticky and
attaches itself to the frame, then pulls loose when the
sash is opened. Windows have weather strip on the
sash, frame or both. Regardless of its location, the steps
for removing and replacing it are the same. Weather
stripping is available from your window manufacturer. The window brand and glass manufacturer
date are etched in the corner of the glass or in
the aluminum spacer between the glass panes. You’ll
also need the height and width of your sash (take these
If the weather strip is in good shape and loose in only
a few places, like the corners, apply a dab of polyurethane
sealant (sold at hardware stores) to the groove and
press the weather strip into place. Otherwise, replace the entire weather strip. First remove the sash and set it
on a work surface so you can access all four sides. If the
weather strip is one continuous piece, cut it apart at the
corners with a utility knife.
Starting at a corner, pull the weather strip loose from
the sash. If the spline tears off and remains
stuck in the groove, make a hook from stiff wire to dig
Work the new weather strip into the groove, starting
at a corner. You’ll hear it click as the strip slides into
If the window is stuck shut, it’s likely that the weather
strip is sticking. After you muscle it open, spray silicone
lubricant on a rag and wipe it on the weather stripping.
Don’t use oily lubricants; they attract dust.
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Replace a fogged sash
If you have broken glass or fogging (condensation between
the glass panes), you’ll have to replace the glass or the entire
sash. If the sash is in good shape (not warped or cracked),
you can sometimes replace just the glass. Call your window
manufacturer to see whether glass replacement is an option
and if a fogged window is covered under your warranty.
You’ll need the information that’s etched into the corner of
the glass and the sash dimensions.
Contact a glass repair specialist to have only the glass
replaced (look under “Glass Repair” in the yellow pages or search online). Or you can
replace the sash yourself and save some of the cost. Order it through the manufacturer.
To replace the sash, first remove the old one. You take this
sash off by removing the hinge screws (Photo 1). For sashes
that slide out, see ‘Fix a sticking window’ above. Remove any hardware
from the damaged sash and install it on the new sash (this
sash doesn’t require any hardware).
Install the new sash by sliding it onto the hinge arms,
then screw it to the hinges (Photo 2).