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How to Identify Common Problems with Sash Windows

Common Problems with Sash Windows and How to identify them

Sash windows make an elegant addition to any building, but like other windows, problems can emerge that need to be addressed.

When it comes to sash windows repair, it’s crucial to monitor your windows for signs of these issues and resolve them before they worsen. By proactively addressing any potential sash windows repair concerns, you can ensure the longevity and aesthetic appeal of these beautiful fixtures in your home or building.

Photo by Nathan Fertig on Unsplash

A few common examples include:

Heat Loss caused by single glazing

As well as damage to windows, sash windows with single glazing can cause heat loss from your property.

This is because there is far less insulation with just a single glaze, and it will do little to retain heat: whatever the temperature outside will have a big impact on the temperature inside, too. It’s easy to identify whether or not your window has single glazing.

Look at the inside edge of the window; are there two panes of glass separated by a spacing system? That means the window is double-glazed.

If there’s just one pane without a spacing system, then your window is single-glazed.

Upgrading your windows to double-glazing will have a big impact on your property’s energy efficiency, something crucial given how much energy costs around the South have risen lately.

Rotten wooden frames and sashes

Rotten frames and sashes are caused by water exposure (something we get plenty of in East Anglian period properties), and general wear and tear.

However, what a lot of people don’t know is most rotten sash windows can be repaired rather than replaced.

Knowing how to spot signs of rot means the damaged bits of timber can be replaced with the rest of the frame left as is.

To check for rot, look for discolouration, cracks, or a sponge-like texture on your window’s timber.

Sashes that do not stay open or close

This is one of the easier problems to identify when checking your sash windows. If your window is stuck in one position, or cannot be fully opened or closed, then there is an issue.

This is often caused by timber swelling in heat, warping the frame to a position where it can no longer be moved easily.

If you notice your window is no longer moving freely, it’s better to get it looked at early than to wait for it to fully stick.

Draught coming through gaps between sashes and frame

An issue which can cause financial loss is draughts from your sash windows.

Gaps between the window pane and frame can allow cold air into your property, which in turn requires more fuel to be burnt to keep it warm.

Good quality draught proofing saves 10% on average on bills in the UK. It can be tricky to spot where a draught is coming from, but identifying gaps between the pane and frame is a strong indicator it’s the sash window. Professionals can close the gap and ensure more don’t occur at the same time.


Sometimes, a forceful impact can cause a sash window to break altogether. It will be obvious when this has happened: there’ll be significant damage to the window panes, frame, or both.

Accidents happen, and sash windows (like any) can sometimes get broken. Whether the window will need replacing or repairing depends on the extent of the damage, and a specialist should be brought in to assess it.

Deterioration of Paintwork and Wooden Surfaces

As with any paintwork, the paint on sash windows can deteriorate over time. This is worsened by exposure to the elements; as your windows heat up and cool down, they expand and contract as a consequence.

This expansion and contraction pull at the paintwork and damage it over time. As a result, the windows will often need repainting to keep them in good condition. Identifying this as an issue is as easy as checking the quality of the paintwork from time to time.

Is it possible to repair the above problems by yourself?

For someone skilled in window repair, it would be possible to make many repairs yourself. However, for someone without relevant experience, even someone familiar with other DIY, it’s far better to get a professional consultation.

There’s a big risk of causing more damage to the window by trying to repair it yourself, which will lead to a more costly professional job.


There are a few common issues that a sash window might incur over time, but fortunately, most of them can be easily identified.

Wear and tears, such as rotting timber, damaged paintwork, or breakages, can be spotted through a visual window assessment.

The functionality of sash windows can also be checked by seeing how easily they open and close and whether or not any draughts are present. If you identify any problems with your sash windows you’re unsure how to handle, it’s always best to bring in a professional.

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