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How to Remove a Double Hung Window

Whether you're changing a wall, fixing broken glass or installing more efficient casement windows, removing the old double hung windows is one of the the first items on your home improvement checklist. Over the years, there have been some changes in how these traditional windows are counterbalanced and constructed but their removal is fairly easy if you're careful and take your time.

Remove a Double Hung Window

Determine what kind of window you have. In old double hung windows, the bottom sash, or part of the window that you lift to let the breeze in, has counterweights. These are lead or metal weights that are suspended inside the window frame and are connected to the sash with a rope that is run up and over a pulley on the upper wall of the inner frame. It attaches in a channel along the side the sash. If you have an old house, you may have heard one or more of these weights thump down to the floor when an old rope wore out. Newer windows are hung with a system of springs contained in the window assembly itself.

Remove the stops, the facing fitted behind the window facing and the sash. It's usually secured with hardware that allows easy removal for periodic replacement of rope or weights. Tilt the sash out and slip the rope out of the channel. Set the sash aside. You can generally retrieve the counterweights by removing an access plate below the pulley on the inner frame to get to the weights, one at a time. Set them aside for reuse or recycling. Pull the rope into the window opening over the top pulley. Remove the second set of stops and repeat the procedure with the second sash.

Remove framing for spring-weighted windows to reveal the assembled window so you know how to proceed. Depending on the size and style of the window, you may have a window that has been assembled like the old counterweighted windows. If so, simply remove stops, disassembling the channels as you remove sashes. If the window sashes are contained in a frame, remove the frame casing that holds the unit in and take the frame and sashes out in one piece. Window frames may be aluminum or wood, depending on the type of window.

Remove the rest of the window assembly. All windows sit in frames that are attached to a sill and the studs of the wall. They are shimmed to sit level and are screwed or nailed into place. Once you've removed the sashes, complete the removal by taking out the rest of the window assembly. Be careful not to remove any of the studs or the two-by-four sill that the frame sat on. Save as much of the outer framing as possible if you will be replacing the window.

Things You Will Need

  • Screwdrivers
  • Claw hammer
  • Pry tool
  • Safety glasses
  • Work gloves
  • Two rulers or paint stirrers

Tip

  • If you're removing counterweighted windows, tie the ends of the weight ropes around paint stirrers or rulers so they don't fall into the window well (thump) while you continue pull out the sash.

Warning

  • Be careful when pulling out old windows. Remove as much as the frame as you need to to remove the sashes without having to pull too hard. Check for shims and screws that have been used to attach the window frame to the sill and studs. Be sure to wear eye protection and gloves when handling glass or deconstructing old frames.

About the Author

An avid perennial gardener and old house owner, Laura Reynolds has had careers in teaching and juvenile justice. A retired municipal judgem Reynolds holds a degree in communications from Northern Illinois University. Her six children and stepchildren served as subjects of editorials during her tenure as a local newspaper editor.

Photo Credits

  • Microsoft Office clip art