spiral balance bracket issue

A home owner from USA says:

Dear sir/madam,

I have some metal double pane, single hung window sashes that won't stay up. All the existing spiral balances are apparently broken beyond repair. So I'm in the process of replacing the spiral balances, 3/8ths, 30 inch. First window worked fine: on my second window not so much. I replaced one side, no problem. The other side I could not get to work. The spiral would not stay properly engaged in the window bracket. It kept twisting out and scoring/scratching the aluminum jamb when I tried to raise or lower the window. (See photo 031, 034, & 035.jpg)

Some of the old balances are actually missing the brass T-bar at the end of the spiral. But most show T-bars that are tilted about 30 degrees, as if one side of the T-bar slipped out of the window bracket and the other side did not.

I think I'm seeing a cascade failure, starting with the window brackets distorting enough for the spiral balance to slip out.

Fortunately, you sell brackets that appear to match what's on my windows. Specifically:

Bracket, #13 Product Code: 17-010

Unfortunately, I don't know how to install such a bracket. I assume I must remove the sash from the window jamb, but even that operation remains a mystery. I have not found a single YouTube video showing how to remove the sash of a non-tilt metal window with spiral balance. (Lots of tilt window and spring/block & tackle channel balances. But nothing matching my windows.)

Since you sell the replacement brackets, can you tell me ? or point me to a video that will show me ? how to remove and replace a bracket #13, product code 17-010 ?

Thank you,


PS: I'm using yellow tip balances because the windows seem quite heavy to me, and the 30" green tip are perpetually out of stock. But I have not figured out how to remove a window to get an actual weight. Please help.

Thumbnail of the uploaded file named 031.jpg
Thumbnail of the uploaded file named 034.jpg
Thumbnail of the uploaded file named 035.jpg
Thumbnail of the uploaded file named Top of Balance.jpg
Profile picture of Tom
Tom from SWISCO responded:

Hello, Brian! It really seems like you have a handle on this project, but I'm afraid I'm about to throw a wrench in your whole operation. Replacing brackets like the 17-010 is very, very difficult. You are right in surmising that the sash has to be removed in order to get at them, but the catch is that the sashes on this type of window were not designed to be removed in any way. In fact, they were specifically designed so that they can't be removed.

These are what we call "builder's grade" windows, which are typically older, aluminum windows that are installed en masse. There have been many manufacturers for this kind of window, most of whom aren't even in business anymore, but their general philosophy was the same across the board: when something broke, they wanted you to buy a whole new window, not a tiny, inexpensive repair part. 

Now, it's not impossible to remove the sash, but it is a huge project. You basically have to disassemble the entire window frame to allow the clearance needed to take it out. This is by no means easy and it is not something I like to recommend. My advice to you is to try to get in touch with a local professional who is familiar with this kind of window and see if they'd be willing to come out and look at it for you. They may even know a trick that I don't, but at the very least they would do the job so you don't have to.

I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but I hope this information helps direct you as to where to go next in this project.

A home owner from Texas says:
This is very useful info. I was afraid this might be the case since I could not locate anything helpful on the web. Knowing the sashes are not designed to be removed spares me the time wasted attempting the impossible -- and damaging the window in the process. I may call a professional or two: see if they know any workarounds.

Thanks for the info.
Profile picture of Tom
Tom from SWISCO responded:

You're very welcome. I definitely think that's the best move at this point. Good luck on your project and please let me know if we can be of any help in the future!

A home owner from Texas says:
Are there any downsides to using the "yellow-tip" balances -- i.e., balances designed for windows that are heavier than what I actually have?

I have no idea the original balance strength: they are not color coded. I strongly suspect they are the cheapest available -- the builder seemed to do everything "low ball" -- and therefore the lowest strength. That's why they all failed: they were too weak for the relatively heavy windows. So they were over-tightened to make them function long enough to close the sale.

I am planning to install the "heavy duty" balances and then under-tighten them. I expect them to work OK but last longer than normal. Assuming the correct balance would be green-tip, is there a potential problem with using the stronger yellow-tip?
Profile picture of Tom
Tom from SWISCO responded:

Yes, there is a downside as a matter of fact. If you use a balance whose spring is rated too strong in comparison to the weight of your sash, then your sash will be difficult to close. In a worst case scenario the window would even open up on its own after you walk away.

You have to think of window balances like Goldilocks' porridge. Not too weak, not too strong. They have to be just right.

Now, weighing your sash will be tricky so long as it's still in the window, but it still works. What I usually do is place a bathroom scale on the sill and gently lower the sash onto it (making sure the balances are disconnected first, of course). The weight rating you get probably won't be 100% precise but I find that it's usually close enough.

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)
Current wait time is 3-4 business days
We promise that one of our experts will personally get back to you as soon as they are able. Thank you very much for your patience and understanding. If your inquiry is time-sensitive, please feel free to reach us at (888) 991-1929 or at help@swisco.com.