Window Handle Stuck? Here’s Why

When your window suddenly won’t open (or close) it’s often your first reaction to blame the actual handle itself. And while it’s entirely possible that the handle or crank itself has broken, there are a lot of underlying and missed causes that could be at play. We’ve already covered how to repair a broken window mechanism, but we didn’t talk about what else could be causing the issue. So today, we’re talking about how to fix a window handle that’s stuck.

The most common culprits of a window handle that’s stuck are corrosion of hinges, dirty or unlubricated hinges and cranks, and loose screws.

That’s good and all, but it means nothing if I don’t explain how to make use of that information, right? so let’s get right into things!

Top Causes of a Window Handle That’s Stuck

As we mentioned above, there are three primary causes of a window handle getting stuck. Corrosion, dirt and improper lubrication, and loose screws are the big bads here. So how do you deal with each of these issues?

Loose Screws

This is a nice, easy little fix. Begin by disconnecting the crank arm and hinge arm from the sash while holding the window. Get a friend to hold the window if you’re having trouble, it’ll make things easier. Now, slide the hinge sleds toward the release and lift the sash. Then you just need to tilt the sash and bring it inside.

Over time, window sashes can sag and bind in the frame. This is especially common in old wooden sashes that can warp and rot with time. Begin by looking for clearly loose or stripped screws. You can tighten and replace them as needed. If they won’t grip, you can either:

  1. Use wooden toothpicks as a makeshift grip. They slide into the hole and give a surface for the screw to grip.
  2. Fill the hole with wood epoxy filler and screw as normal.
  3. Use both if the hole is being particularly squirrely for added grip.

If you have interior hinges, open the sash all the way, otherwise, the screws will be hidden.

Hinges & Corrosion

This particular cause is most common in older homes whose metal hinges reside outside. While it may seem like this is an obvious design flaw, we didn’t realise that until more recently (somehow). Because of this, older windows that haven’t been regularly maintained are at risk of corrosion if they rest outside. Constant exposure to the elements isn’t easy on anything, especially metal hinges.

To see if this is the issue (and partially address the next problem), you’ll need to clean and lubricate the hinges. Use a metal-safe cleaner to get your hinges nice and pretty – this will do two things. First, it’ll make your window look better, but more importantly, it’ll make it easier to spot corrosion or grinding hinges.

Now, open and close the window a few times. Be sure to take extra care to watch the hinges and see if they grate or grind anywhere. If so, they’re in need of lubrication. If this issue reoccurs after lubrication, the hinges need replacement.

Replacing the Hinges

Remove the old screws of your hinge. Next, carefully slice the paint along the hinge edge with a utility knife, prying the hinge out of place. You can then replace the hinge as normal. Be careful to support the window while replacing the hinge, and be sure to get it nice and level. If you don’t you’ll need to resquare the window frame – and that’s not fun.

If the hinges have already been replaced and are still binding the sash, you’ve likely got a settled window frame. This means it’s changed shape over time and will require that you hire a professional to resquare and reinstall your window properly. Let’s hope that’s not the issue and move on, in the meantime.

Lubrication

This is a bit of a secondary concern in comparison to the other potential issues. A poorly lubricated window, crank, or hinge will still work, just not quite as well. Depending on how your window hangs and how it opens, along with what it’s made from, you’ll be able to use one of a few things to lubricate it.

Good old fashioned WD-40 works on hinges and cranks, hence the (not so old) adage, “If it moves and shouldn’t it needs duct tape. If it doesn’t move and should, it needs WD-40.”

Another option for uPVC windows that slide (and the most likely fix) is to use a form of wax. Beeswax, even recycled candlewax works as a homemade lubricant and has been used for just about as long as humans have needed to lubricate stuff.

Finally, you can use silicone or dry Teflon spray on hinges, though that’s a bit expensive and its uses are limited beyond very specific instances such as this. It still can’t hurt, though, so give it a try if you don’t have anything else on hand.

Final Thoughts

If your window handle is stuck, there are a few possible culprits. Obviously, if your crank won’t turn at all, the casement crank is broken and will need replacement. But while you’re doing that, it’s good to examine the following areas to ensure nothing else is awry. First things first – examine the screws in your hinges. These are prone to stripping or breaking and will affect how your window opens. Next, check your hinges for corrosion, dirt and grime, and a need of lubrication. Finally, lubricate the actual slide of your window. This will make it open like new, assuming nothing else is wrong.

Be sure to use wood epoxy and toothpicks to help pesky screw holes grip again. Make use of silicone, dry Teflon spray, beeswax, or WD-40 to lubricate pesky hinges and slides. Particularly with outdoor hinges, corrosion is a concern. They’re common in older homes, and are hard to reach, meaning they’re not maintained regularly. And if you suspect that your window has settled and isn’t square anymore, be sure to contact a professional. They’ll be able to get things sorted and have your window opening just like new.

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About the Author Harry Thompson

Involved in home renovations throughout his life, Harry is an expert in everything to do with home and garden DIY. In his spare time, he enjoys cooking and tending to his garden.