SWISCO - The Replacement Hardware Authority

Replacing window balancers

A home owner from Woodbridge, CT says:
I have to replace all four balancers (two per sash) on a number of double-hung, non-tilt windows, but I can't find anything on your website which resembles the originals.

My windows were installed in 1954. The balancers are coil-shaped metal which are 3/8 inch in diameter, and which rotate counter-clockwise when the sash is moved. They do not open or compress (as a spring would) when the sash is moved.

The balancers are housed in a U-shaped channel (probably plastic) on which the grooved sides of the sash rides as it's raised or lowered. Each of the balancers is attached to either side of the bottom of its sash with a L-shaped piece of metal about 3 inches long nailed into the wooden sash bottom. The full length of the balancer when the lower sash is closed is approx. 50 inches. The length of the balancer when the lower sash is fully raised is approx. 25 inches.

I have not yet removed any of the inoperative balancers so I am unable to provide any stampings or other description nor do I know the manufacturer's name since the windows are more than sixty years old.

I would appreciate any advice you can provide on specifying replacement balancers for my application. Thank you for your time and assistance.
Profile picture of Paul
Paul from SWISCO responded:
Thanks for contacting us. If you can, please show us some pictures of the windows and the tracks where the balances are installed. That would be the best place to start now, that way we can get a better idea of what you have.
A home owner from Woodbridge, CT says:
This balancer consists of a cylindrical coil which resembles a compressed spring 23" long. (A tube of plastic sheathes this coil because it would be visible in the window frame.) Inside that coil is a flat band of metal twisted in a spiral shape which is also 23" long. When the sash is fully lowered, the spiral band is pulled downward out of the metal coil, and the metal coil rotates. When the sash is raised, the spiral band is returned up into the coil which rotates in the opposite direction and adds tension to the spiral, thus holding the raised sash in position.

Attached below are four photographs as requested. #1 shows the top of the balancer which is attached to the inside top of the window frame. This fixture allows the metal coil to rotate freely. #2 shows a balancer in-place in the channel on the side of the lower sash. Note that only the bottom several inches of the metal coil is visible and that the spiral band is completely extended as if the sash was completely lowered. #3 shows that bottom end of the balancer with the L-shaped metal attachment which is nailed into the bottom edge of the sash. #4 shows the window frame with the lower sash removed. The white painted upper portion of the frame shows where the metal coil was positioned; the unpainted lower portion of the frame shows where the spiral band is positioned when fully extended.
User submitted photos of a window balance.
Profile picture of Paul
Paul from SWISCO responded:
This looks like an old wood window balance system. We like to use our Series 500 spiral balance for this, in addition to a bracket to hold it to the sash. In your case, see our S500-23 balance and 17-007 bracket. What do you think of this solution?
A home owner from Woodbridge, CT says:
Paul,

Thanks for your response and help in replacing my balancers.

Shown below is a photo of the original balancer and bracket. Note that the bracket appears to be permanently attached with a rivet to the end of the spiral.

The recommended S500-23 balancer has two projecting vanes perpendicular to the spiral. Those vanes, I assume, hook under the end of the 17-007 bracket but are left loose. If they're not permanently attached to the bracket (as in the photo below) I'm assuming that the spiral tension holds them in place when the sash is raised.

Is that correct?
User submitted a photo of a window balance.
Profile picture of Paul
Paul from SWISCO responded:
Yes, everything you said is correct. The 17-007 is not permanently attached, but we do not find that to affect the function of the balance.
A home owner from Woodbridge, CT says:
Paul.

I ordered my first set of red tipped balancers, brackets, and adjusting tool this morning. One final question: Your guide on adjusting the tension on the spiral balancers does not give any idea how many clockwise turns initially should be sufficient to provide the proper tension. My sash weighs ten pounds. Do you have any recommendation for the proper number of turns?

Thanks.
Profile picture of Paul
Paul from SWISCO responded:
We usually recommend 1-2 turns to start out. If you still find it's drooping a little, give it another turn. You don't want to go much higher than that.
Reply to Thread
Use this form to ask a follow-up question or to share your experience regarding this subject.
(your email address will be kept private and is only used to inform you when a response has been made)