SWISCO - The Replacement Hardware Authority

hard to open vinyl windows w/spiral balances

A home owner from PA says:
I had vinyl replacement windows put in my house 12 years or so ago at 2 different times; the one batch seem to open easier than the others that usually require 2 hands to open/close. I'm anticipating replacing the balances to see if that helps (I believe 24" series 900). Thoughts?
I was told to try some lubricant (on the shoe or the track?) but I'm concerned about mess, it attracting dirt, unsafe products, damaging felt weather stripping, and it just not working because the windows are either too tight in the frame or in need of new, better balances. Thanks in advance.
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Mike from SWISCO responded:
Did the one batch of windows that you are currently having problems with ever work well?
A home owner from PA says:
I don't think so.
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Paul from SWISCO responded:
You said the sashes seem tight in the frame, correct?

To check on the tightness, raise the bottom sash about three inches and tilt in. Was it hard tilt out, or was it pretty easy? If it was easy, then it is the balances. If it is hard, the windows are installed too tight.

However, you might be able to loosen the frame without reinstalling the windows. With the bottom sash tilted in, look for a small screw on the jamb between the top and bottom sash. It will be half way up the window. This moves the window jamb in and out for adjustment. When turning clockwise, the jamb moves out. When turning counter clockwise, the jamb moves in.

We recommend a silicone-based lubrication spray.
A home owner from PA says:
Thanks for the info. I'm pretty sure they all tilt in ok, easy. My reason for saying they may be tight is because looking at some of the sashes their side felt weatherstrip is barely seen, as though its smashed tight. And I don't think I want to lubricate the felt, right? Maybe I got a batch of windows with "poor" balances or incorrect (too heavy duty?) balances?
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Paul from SWISCO responded:
Being that the weatherstripping felt is smashed, the center adjustment needs to be turned clockwise in order to spread the frame out a bit, loosening up the sashes.
A home owner from NY says:
We have vinyl windows that were install less than 8 yrs ago and we have the same issue - they're very difficult to raise the sash. They tilt in fine.

Do I need a special tool to adjust the balances or should I just spray the spirals with some WD40?

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Paul from SWISCO responded:
We have a charging tool, the 75-006, that makes it easy to charge the balance. You can use a silicone-based spray (like WD-40) to lubricate the spiral. Do you have metal or plastic balance tubes? We find plastic tubes don't last as long as the metal tubes.
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