Window Balance Replacement

A home owner from San Diego says:
The rope on my window balance broke and so the window only hangs on one balance that has the rope intact. I took pictures of the balance and a picture of the sticker I found on the inside of the window. Could you help me figure out what I can replace this with? These are Atrium windows and the metal part of the balance (without the white end parts) is almost 29 7/8 inches long. Please let me know if you need any other information to make a decision.

Thank you!
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A home owner from San Diego says:
I think I figured out I probably need this:

30" Series 395 Channel Balance.

Could you please confirm?


However, I also have another problem. One of our windows whose channel balances I have replaced had a piece of the vinyl break off that prevents the balance from moving out of the bottom window part, so now my window is unusable again. I removed the balance as it had gone straight through the whole (see picture).
Is there a way I can repair this? Do you sell vinyl strips that I could somehow screw onto this so that the balance won't pop out without having to replace the whole window?

Thank you,

Annemarie
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Tom from SWISCO responded:

Hello! I agree, our S395-30 looks like our best option. As for the issue in your second post, it sounds like your top sash guide broke. I would start by watching the video below to see what I mean. You can also see our entire selection here

A home owner from San Diego says:
I did not even realize the sash guide broke. It broke before and I replaced it with Sash guide 18-171 Alpine in July of last year. Why would it break again that quickly? Is there another sash guide that would fit that would work better, maybe made of a better material like metal instead of plastic? I attached some pictures so you can see both sash guides better. One is good, the other has obviously broken off. I would appreciate any recommendations. This window has been a problem since we moved it. It never stayed fully open, would only go 1/3 of the way up and it seems even after replacing the window balance the shoes did not fit properly...
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Tom from SWISCO responded:

They definitely shouldn't break so quickly, that's for sure. They are designed to last years.

One reason they may be breaking is because the balance spring isn't the right strength in relation to the weight of the sash. However if this is the same balance you've been using all this time then I also can't see why that would cause an issue. This is a bit of a mystery.

Is the undamaged top sash guide in these pictures the original, or one of the 18-171 replacements? If it's one of our replacements, could you show me the original?

A home owner from San Diego says:

I don't remember if I changed the left or the right sash guide, sorry. I ordered the new one because it looked exactly like the one I had, I don't think there were any others that were similar. Should I try a different kind in the same window or is that asking for trouble? 

Somehow when we bought the house this window and another one never stayed up fully, only an inch or 6. Then when the balance broke, I took pictures, asked you guys for advice on which one to buy and installed it. However, the shoe on one side was lower than on the other side (not sure if this was already the case before, as I didn't learn about all these terms and what to look for until after it broke and I started gathering information). 

It's the exact same situation in the other window though: one shoe is partly visible, the other is not. Wonder if that's what causing issues, but no matter what I try that's what happens. I'd be happy as long as the window opens partially, as it's the only easily accessible window in the room and in summer it really helps with the breeze. 

Basically, if I can get a sash guide that stays put and order the new balances I should be ok for a few months ;-)

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Paul from SWISCO responded:

Perhaps I can be of assistance. I came across your discussion late, so please bear with me. Before you purchase anymore parts, see if you have another window of the same size that works correctly in your home. If so, do the top sash guides match? Do the channel balances have the same length, and do the nylon fittings and the spring stamp weights match? Please send photos of these parts, preferably removed from the window. We will review what you need from there.

A home owner from San Diego says:
I do have a window that is exactly the same and has always worked fine. Attached are the images of those window parts. They are the same on both sides. I have replaced the window balances of the problem window with your 2420 balance when one of the ropes broke (image also attached). After that I the sash guide broke, so I replaced that too and it worked fine until it came crashing through the top of the window when it broke again.
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Bob from SWISCO responded:

Thanks for the added photos. Well, your top sash guides certainly look like the 18-171, so I don't believe they are the issue. I went back and looked over your old discussion about this window giving you trouble, here. Since the balances you show from the other window of the same size are stamped 23-3, rather than 2420, I believe this indicates that the balances originally in the window giving you trouble were probably cut down by whoever installed them so that they fit properly, and thus their stamp codes were not accurate. Unfortunately, the replacement balances based on those stamp codes were thus too long, hence why the nylon shoes were sticking out of the bottom of the sash--this is also probably why your top sash guides kept breaking: the balances were both too long and too strong. My apologies about this!

Fortunately, I think we can make sure this problem window now has the right balances. To be safe, measure the metal channel of these balances from the window of the same size to confirm that they are 24". Do not include the nylon attachments in this measurement. Then look over the nylon attachments at either end of the balances to see if they match the nylon attachments of the Series 395 balances currently in the problem window. If so, then see the S395-24, with a stamp option of 2330, which is for a window sash in the weight range of 15 through 18 lbs. Let us know what you think.

A home owner from San Diego says:
Wow, the problem window balances are quite a bit longer! I doubt that someone cut them off, as we live in a cookie cutter house and bought it a year after someone bought it from the builder, but something was definitely wrong with those. I attached some pictures for you to see. The length IS 24" without plastic attachments. The only difference I see is with the white top plasstic attachment which has an extra horizontal piece, but I doubt that would make a huge difference...? After seeing these pictures can you please confirm that I should buy 2 of the S394-24 with stamp option 2330 as you mentioned above? Thanks for all your help!
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Bob from SWISCO responded:

Yes, this is a S395-24. You are right, the slight variation in the top attachment shouldn't matter. The stamp option of 2330 is for a window sash in the weight range of 15 through 18 lbs. If you want to be extra safe, you could weigh your window sash just to make sure it falls within this weight range.

As far as the incorrect balances, I suppose it is possible that your originals we're simply stamped incorrectly too. But you'd be surprised what happens in construction projects, even in housing developments--from what the more seasoned guys in this business tell me, sometimes builders will make do with whatever they have on site to get a job done sometimes, even if that means cutting down a balance that was too long to fit a window. This certainly would be one reason why the stamp options led us astray with your original balances, because they indicated that the balance was longer than it really was. A balance code starting with the number '24' usually indicates a 25" balance, while a code starting with '23' indicates a 24" balance. But this is not foolproof, as we just discovered with your window . . . because sometimes the balances were messed with in some way. This is why it's always good to get the measurement of the metal channel just to be safe. Sorry it took so long to finally get to the bottom of this for you, but I am confident that the right-sized balances, with the proper stamp option, should make the difference.

A home owner from San Diego says:
Thanks so much for your help! I wonder if the other problem window has the wrong size balances too then... it's tricky to access as it's behind the sink, but I'll get to it one day. Let's first take care of these two. I can't wait to finally have that window work properly after 11 years!
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Bob from SWISCO responded:

Me too! Let us know if you have any further problems, and when you're ready to do further replacement work we'll be happy to help again. 

A home owner from San Diego says:
Ok, so.... the problem window is finally fixed. It works perfectly, thank you so much!

However, the window that seemed to be an easy fix is more problematic. After replacing the balances (30" Series 395 Channel Balance, option 2940) the window was really hard to close and as soon as I opened the locks it would go up halfway. I figured maybe the springs are too strong, so I took out another window that's exactly the same and works fine, checked the balances and guess what... instead of 29-4 it says 29-3. Both of these balances look the same however, whereas the one I ordered has a shorter spring, which I guess may explain why the 29-4 that I ordered was harder to close. My question is: Does it seem like these balances had the wrong stamp on it and would it be possible to return the 29-4 I ordered and replace them with a 29-3? I attached some pictures with comments for clarification. Thank you.
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Bob from SWISCO responded:

Hello again! I'm glad to hear the mystery window has finally been solved. As to this other window, I think you more or less have figured it out. While the length of the springs inside the balances doesn't necessarily matter, there is no doubt that a stronger spring, such as the 2940 compared to the 2930, would cause you to be unable to close a window, or to keep it closed. Fortunately, you can return the S395-30 2940 balances and then order balances with the 2930 stamp instead. See our return policy here.

A home owner from San Diego says:
Hi again,

After finally fixing our problem windows, of course another window balance has broken and there are no other windows with the same size I have fixed before. I attached images of the balance. The weird thing is that I measure the metal part being 27 inches, although the stamp says 26-4... Is there anything else I need to measure in order to make sure I buy the correct replacement? I'm guessing since my previous windows have been the 395 series, this one is too? I would appreciate any suggestions and advice you have for me.

Thank you.
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Bob from SWISCO responded:

Thanks for writing in again! Don't worry, this all seems pretty straightforward. You're right, you have an S395-27. Remember that in most standard balances, the first two digits of the stamp code are usually 1 number less than the metal channel length, hence why you have a stamp code of 26-4. This means you'll need a stamp option of 2640. Let us know if you have any other questions.

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