Need Help with Hard-to-Open Windows!

My mother’s windows are very hard to open and close–they’re new (either vinyl siding or metal, not wood). Even I have trouble opening and closing them–and my mother has a vertebral compression fracture, so there is no way she can do it without seriously injuring herself.

I bought some of that silicone spray that is supposed to loosen up sticky windows. All it’s done so far is stink up her apartment something ghastly; the windows are as hard to open and close as ever.

Any suggestions? Vaseline? K-Y? Pam?

If they’re new and that hard to open I would think that they weren’t installed properly. Contact the installer.

It should be a smooth operation…

I culled this advice from Internet sources. Good luck!
Lubricate wood window channels with candle wax. Rub a white candle along the channel, then open and close the window a few times. Do not use liquid lubricants on wood windows.
When finished, all exposed wood should be covered; any unprotected wood can be affected by moisture, providing entry points for rot and allowing unwanted expansion with consequent sticking of the sashes.

Sticking windows can be eased with wax rubbed in the vertical channels and on the sash stiles. It may also help to oil the pulleys at the top of the window and to replace the sash cords to help them run smoothly. If this does not help, check that the beading is seated correctly. The third step is to strip the paint from the channels in the frame and protect it with linseed or teak oil; this is how these windows were originally finished. Finally, test to see that the sashes are not distorted or swollen. Remove the sashes and plane off a little wood in the sticking area, or rebuild the sash completely.
A dehumidifier pulls the water out of the musty air and makes you feel more comfortable. Your home and furnishings will benefit as well from this environment change. As the humidity is reduced, so are the instances of sticking windows and doors,

Owners of caravans with grey seals on the windows may find that the seals start to stick to the window and that the rubber becomes dry and brittle. One solution to this is to apply Vaseline to the rubber. We did this on our caravan which had three sticking windows, and since then they have been fine.

A last thought:

I vaguely remember someone telling me NOT to use WD-40 type products on certain seals (polymers) as they can actually make the problem worse by causing the seal to expand ever so slightly.

I’d contact the window manufacturer. Sounds like a faulty install. New windows should glide like dancers on a ballroom floor.

Contancting the installer is not an option—this is an assisted-living facility; the windows are maybe ten years old and everyone has trouble opening and closing them. That is not going to change; the windows or pulleys are not going to be replaced. So we have to deal with the existing windows as-is. All maintenance does is come up and spray them with the same silicone spray I bought and found useless.

They’re not wood, so wax would just stick them even worse—maybe I’ll try Vaseline—thanks!

Don’t try vaseline Eve. It will muck it up even worse than it is now over time.
Are the windows on a track or are there actual pullies imbedded in the walls. If you don’t know, look at the track they slide up and down on (or should slide on as it were) and see if there is metal or vinyl in the track. Spraying vinyl with silicon may damage the vinyl over time and make it really difficult to open. Is your mother in a warm climate…dry too? I have seen this before in those types of climates (my wife and Ilived in Phoenix for 4 years…)

As unorthodox this may sound maybe try breaking the window irreparably so it needs to get replaced. Otherwise, maybe try loosening the screws connecting the window fram itself to the building and making the gap between the track and window larger…

More experts, more advice…

A last thought: you might try contacting a local glass/window company and asking for their suggestions. But I’d first check the window tracks for debris/paint/grime, and make sure any installation screws are fully screwed in. if the windows are your standard-issue vinyl replacement types–the type you get at Home Depot, Lowe’s etc.–there are no pulleys in the walls.

I’ve had luck with Teflon spray, but would resist WD-40. Not sure about lithium grease, as some recommend. I think the best advice is to remove what portion of the window you can, clean and lubricate them, reinsert, and see how that works. Many newer windows can be removed from the window frame for easy maintenance and repair.

I’ll try Teflon spray—but the windows cannot be replaced and are not going to be “repaired.” This is an assisted-living complex. They have about 90 residents and one manintenance man, which means getting a toilet unclogged or a sink fixed is going to take precedence over “I can’t get my window open, it’s hard to push.” They are not going to do anything about that, it’s up to us.

I can’t tell whether they are vinyl or metal; they are on a track. I’ll try a hardware store (there’s a good one in the neighborhood), tell them silicone spray does no good, what can they recommend? As it is, Mom has to call a nurse every time she needs her windows opened or closed (which happens a lot in this changeable weather!); if she tries it herself, her vertebral fracture would snap her in half.

It sounds like the place has no A/C so you really do need functioning windows. You say the windows aren’t wood, but is the building? If so, there could be sagging or settling that has caused the window frames to go out of square or plumb, causing the problem. Block walls can crack and sag, changing the shape of the window opening the frame is installed in as well. If that is the problem, and it sounds like it is, the frames will have to be realigned before the windows will open properly.

Oh, it does have heat and a/c—it’s a very good and fairly new complex, built in the past ten years. I didn’t dump my mother in the Po’ House! The only problem, really, is that the windows . . . ummm . . . “fit a bit snugly” in their frames. No problem for a big healthy farm-gal like myself, but for a frail 82-year-old with a vertebral compression fracture . . .

I’ll skip right past the wise-ass “well, we told you to buy a Mac” and get straight to the useful part. Here’s a company that sells an add-on crank for sash windows. It looks like it’s a matter of a few screws to install. Hopefully the management of the assisted living home won’t mind your installing something like this.

You might want to call the manufacturer anyway. This may be an ongoing problem that they’ve got a solution to. It couldn’t hurt to call!

I once had a place that had stuck windows. I thought I would die in the summer. Very frustrating.

“Fenestrastor?!” Wouldn’t that be someone who puts your head back on after an accident?

I think I will e-mail the maintenance guy there and see what he has to say. I know my mother’s not the only person who has trouble opening and closing widows there, and when I mention “veretebral compression fracture,” he might hear “lawsuit” and do something about it.

But I will also chat with the hardware store guys about Teflon spray (after I find out what the frames are made of!).

Heaven forbid the local media (or fire marshall or grand-standing Senator) get wind of this situation–of a bunch of elderly, medically infirmed Greatest Generation types who can’t open their windows.