What are Top Sash Guides?

A handy person from Portland says:
I came across a couple of single hung, Suburban Door windows with a broken sash guide. I believe I've located a replacement part in 18-171. Could you explain what those things do, how when one of them is broken the window hangs crooked and does not operate right. Are these weak links, do they break often? Many thanks. Chris
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Tom from SWISCO responded:
Thanks for posting, Chris. Top sash guides keep the balances from springing up in the track and are essential to the operation of your window. As long as the top sash guide is installed, the balance will remain in place and your window will act normally. If the top sash guide breaks or is removed, nothing is holding the balance to the sash and it will simply shoot up to the top of the track.

This hardware does become brittle over the years, especially if exposed to sunlight.
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