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Why Are My Casement Windows Not Opening?

March 4th, 2024 | 5 min read

By Michael Flory

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Are you frustrated because your casement windows refuse to open, leaving you unable to enjoy fresh air and natural light in your home? Dealing with stubborn windows can be a hassle, especially if you're unsure why they're not functioning correctly.

With 15+ years of remodeling experience, we’ve replaced and fixed hundreds of casement windows. We aim to empower you with the knowledge to troubleshoot and resolve window problems effectively.

In this article, we'll explore why casement windows may not open and provide simple solutions to help you address these issues.

  1. Poor Quality Windows and Installation
  2. Misalignment and Hardware Problems
  3. Lack of Lubrication
  4. Structural Settling and Frame Damage
  5. Paint Build-Up and Debris Accumulation
  6. Seal Compression Damage

1. Poor Quality Windows and Installation

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To avoid future headaches, invest in high-quality casements from the start. Casement windows have numerous mechanical parts such as gears, cranks, winders, hinges, locks, and operator arms.

When installed incorrectly or using inferior materials, these components can lead to operational issues down the line, such as:

  • Water Leakage: Improper installation may allow water to seep into the home around the window frame, leading to water damage, mold growth, and structural issues over time.
  • Drafts and Air Leakage: Poor installation can lead to gaps between the window frame and the wall, resulting in drafts and air leakage, compromising energy efficiency and indoor comfort.
  • Reduced Lifespan: Improper installation can cause premature wear and tear on the window components, leading to a shorter lifespan and the need for costly repairs or replacement sooner than expected.
  • Noise Infiltration: Casement windows that are not installed correctly may fail to provide adequate noise insulation, allowing unwanted outside noise to enter the home, and disrupting peace and quiet indoors.

Here are a few ways you can ensure you buy high-quality casement windows and install them correctly for your potential replacement:

Quality Assurance

  • Check Warranty: Ensure the manufacturer offers a good warranty covering any issues.
  • Read Reviews: See what other homeowners say about the windows' durability and performance.
  • Choose Trusted Brands: Look for well-known brands that make durable casement windows.
  • Check Energy Efficiency: Pick windows with high energy efficiency ratings to save on energy costs.

Installation Assurance

  • Follow Instructions: Stick to the manufacturer's instructions to install the windows correctly.
  • Check Window Openings: Before installing, make sure the window openings are the right size and shape.
  • Test Them Out: After installation, check that the windows open, close, and lock smoothly to ensure they work.
  • Use Good Materials: Use quality materials like shims and insulation during installation to seal and stabilize the windows.
  • Hire Professionals: Have experienced window installers handle the job to ensure your casement windows are installed correctly.

2. Misalignment and Hardware Problems

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PC: Brennan Enterprises

Casement windows rely on precise alignment and functioning hardware for smooth operation. Structural settling, poor installation, or lack of lubrication can result in misalignment and hardware malfunctions. Ensure the window frame is plumb (vertically aligned) and square to prevent sash warping and frame misalignment.

Here are a few ways to avoid future misalignment and hardware problems:

  • Adjust When Needed: Check and adjust the alignment of your windows if they start to fit poorly or operate roughly.
  • Keep Them Maintained: Regularly check and lubricate the moving parts of your windows to prevent stiffness and wear.
  • Handle with Care: Avoid forcing your windows open or closed to prevent damage to the hardware. Use gentle pressure instead.
  • Address Structural Changes: Deal with any settling of your house promptly to stop your windows from becoming misaligned.

3. Lack of Lubrication

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PC: Cleaning Winnipeg

Proper lubrication is essential to keep casement window mechanisms operating smoothly. Regularly grease or oil the gears, cranks, hinges, and other moving parts every few years to prevent stiffness and premature wear.

Here are three lubricants you can purchase to lubricate your casement windows’ mechanisms:

  • White Lithium Grease: Apply white lithium grease to metal parts like hinges. It lasts long and protects against rust.
  • Graphite Powder: Put graphite powder on tracks and channels. It reduces friction and keeps windows moving smoothly.
  • Spray Silicone Lubricant: Use a silicone spray on hinges, gears, and cranks. It creates a smooth, non-greasy coating, preventing stiffness.

4. Structural Settling and Frame Damage

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Casement Window Frame Diagram

Structural settling of the house or frame damage can cause casement windows to become misaligned or challenging to open. Adjustments may be necessary to realign the sash within the frame and ensure proper closure.

Here are some methods to readjust your casement windows to address structural settling and frame damage:

  • Check Alignment: Make sure the windows fit well in the frame. Adjust hinges or tracks if needed.
  • Use Shims: Put shims to level the window frame if it has moved. This helps support it and keeps it aligned.
  • Tighten Screws: Check for loose screws and tighten them. Loose screws can cause alignment issues and damage.
  • Replace Weatherstripping: Put new weatherstripping if the old one is worn out. This keeps the window sealed and stops air leaks.
  • Get Professional Help: If the frame is damaged or the settling is severe, ask a professional for help. They can assess the problem and recommend repairs.

5. Paint Build-Up and Debris Accumulation

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PC: Indow Windows

Paint build-up can occur when windows are painted shut, hindering operation. Additionally, debris accumulation on mechanical parts can accelerate wear and tear. Proper cleaning and maintenance are crucial to prevent these issues.

Here are a few ways to remove any paint build-up and debris from your casement windows:

  • Use Paint Remover: Apply a paint remover and wipe off the softened paint.
  • Apply Lubricant: Use a lubricant like WD-40 to loosen the paint, then wipe it away.
  • Clean with Soapy Water: Scrub the window frame with warm, soapy water to loosen the paint.
  • Scrape Off Paint: Use a heat gun to soften the paint, then carefully scrape away the paint using a scraper or knife.

6. Seal Compression Damage

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Example of casement window seal mechanisms

Crushed seals can compromise the efficiency of casement windows. Check for proper seal compression and address any structural issues promptly to maintain energy efficiency and prevent further damage.

Here are a few ways you can test your seal compression:

Seal Compression Tests

  • Look for Gaps: Check for gaps around the window frame.
  • Check for Moisture: Look for signs of water leaks around the window frame.
  • Feel for Drafts: Feel around the edges of the window for any drafts or air leaks.
  • Close and Lock: Make sure the window is fully closed and locked to press the seal tightly.
  • The Dollar Bill Test: Close the window on a dollar bill and try to pull it out. If it comes out easily, the seal may not be tight enough.

Next Steps to Fixing Your Casement Windows

The struggle of dealing with dysfunctional windows can persist, causing inconvenience and discomfort in your home.

However, you can regain control over your windows' functionality by understanding the common reasons behind this issue and implementing the simple solutions in this article. Whether addressing poor quality, misalignment, lack of lubrication, or other factors, taking proactive steps can help restore your windows to optimal performance.

With 15 years of remodeling experience, we understand the importance of functioning casement windows and the peace of mind they bring.

Take action today to address any issues with your casement windows. Don't hesitate to contact Custom Built if you need further assistance resolving window issues. 

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Now that you know more about why your casement windows aren’t opening, let’s explore how Custom Built will approach your project, the best exterior home improvement projects, and the most popular types of home additions in Michigan:

Michael Flory

Michael brings over 2 decades of building and remodeling experience to his position as the Owner and Visionary of Custom Built. Michael’s passion to make an impact on the home building industry has led him to serve for over ten years at the local and state Home Builders Association, culminating as President of the HBA of Michigan in 2020.