Tom Shafer

3 DIY common window repair questions answered

September 13, 2011

Every day, people approach me with puzzled looks, miscellaneous parts and the same questions about window repair. These are my responses to three of the most common ones.

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  1. How do I fix this window sash with broken, insulated glass or a broken balance string?

    A sash balance is a mechanism that balances a window sash, making it virtually weightless. If the string is broken it usually means that the problem is a block-and-tackle balance. It needs to be replaced. The window manufacturer should have replacement parts. These days, you can order many of them online.

  2. What's the easiest way to repair dents in aluminum or vinyl cladding?

    Pull out dents in vinyl by warming the area with a hair dryer. This should relax the PVC and remove the dent. Removing dents in clad aluminum windows is a touch more difficult. The best way I've found is to use dent filler inside the entire area; sand it smooth and level. Then paint it.

  3. How do I replace sliding-glass patio doors? What about their handles and locks?

    Whether frames are aluminum, wood or vinyl, many problems with sliding-glass patio doors can be repaired. When sliding glass doors are hard to operate, a dirty track is often the culprit. Clean, new rollers are available at most big box retailers. Sliding screen doors are notorious for rusty or frozen wheels. Screen door wheels are available at large and specialty home improvement stores. Handles are also replaced easily. Make note of the drill pattern, which is the distance between the holes on sliding glass door locks; the drill pattern is critical to replacing the old lock correctly.

If you don't see your do-it-yourself door and window repair question answered here, come back next week, where I'll take you "Window Shopping" in plain language you can see through.

About the Author

Tom Shafer has decades of experience in window sales, marketing and product development. He's worked closely with window design engineers in testing, design, and building code interpretation. Past employers include United Windows and Doors and Norandex, MI Windows. He currently works at a home improvement retailer.


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