I've been writing on DenGarden for over 5 years and have over 25 years of experience working in the window and door trade.
A PVC window that won't open is something that can happen to almost any window and, in most cases, it is easily fixed. Below are some of the main causes for this problem and what you can do to fix them.
Reasons Why Your uPVC Window Won't Open
- The gasket is stuck to the frame.
- There's a build-up of dust and grit on the hinges.
- The spindle inside your handle is worn down and is not turning the lock mechanism.
- The lock is broken.
1. The Window's Gasket Is Stuck to the Frame
In some of the older PVC windows, the rubber weather gasket which keeps the draughts out can sometimes melt slightly, causing the sash and frame to stick together. This can happen if the window is left closed for long periods of time during hot weather.
How to Fix a Stuck Gasket
- You can fix this by using a credit card or a flat blunt knife. Just slide the knife between the frame and sash to separate the two.
- Do not just force the window open, because this will just tear the gasket apart and will cause you to get a draught through your window.
2. The Window's Hinges Are Dirty
Hinges are the most common problem with windows. If you live next to a busy road and leave your window open (even just slightly) for long periods of time, you will get a build up of dust and grit on the hinges which will make it seem like your window is totally jammed.
How to Fix a Dirty Hinge
- To fix this just spray some oil or grease onto the hinges and, within a few minutes, your window will be opening and closing like new.
- In some cases, your hinge may be broken. If this is the case you will need a new pair of hinges fitted.
3. The Handle's Spindle Is Worn Down
This is when the spindle inside your handle is wearing down and is not turning the lock mechanism. If you go to open your window and turn the handle, but the window is still locked, then your spindle is likely worn down. To be sure this is the reason, take a handle off another window and try it on the broken window. If the problem turns out to be just the handle, then it won't cost much for a new handle.
What to Remember When Replacing a Handle
- The only thing you have to watch out for when you are putting a new handle on is making sure that the new handle is in the same position as the one you take off.
- For example, if the lock on the window is in the locked position, then make sure the handle is also in the locked position when you put it on. Otherwise, the gearing in the lock won't line up with the handle and your window still won't open.
4. The PVC Window's Lock Is Broken
This is the hardest problem to get sorted out. If, after trying the handles as mentioned above, your window still won't open, more than likely it is the lock that is busted. Unless you know how locks are fitted to your window, and how they operate, you would be better off leaving this for someone who knows what they are doing. The trouble with these locks is that they are designed to keep people out, so to minimize the damage to your window you need someone who knows what they are doing.
The methods described above are used to fix a uPVC casement window with the espage locking system, as well as a uPVC Tilt/Turn window. In most cases, PVC windows will operate for years without giving you any trouble, but when something does go wrong, it should not cost a whole lot to fix it. Nowadays, PVC windows are very popular, and the parts for them are readily available everywhere.
When Is Your Window Past Repairs?
With some of the older PVC windows, it may not be worth spending money on them to get them repaired. For example, if your window is ten or more years old. It may be cheaper to just buy a few new windows. Once a window gets to this age, the double glazing is getting old and, if you have to replace this just after spending money on new handles and hinges, then the overall price can sometimes work out to be more expensive than a new window.
How Do You Tell If Your Window Is Worth Repairing?
- First, before you spend money on hinges and handles, check your double glazing and see is there any sign of dampness or any type of water on the inside of the double glazing. If there is, then this means your double glazing seal is gone and this cannot be fixed. Over the next few months you will notice this dampness will get worst and, in the end, you won't be able to see out your window.
- If this is the case you would be better to get a new window, rather than spend money on something this old.
- Before you spend money on repairing your windows have a look at the security of your windows, as some of the older windows are not too good at keeping people out.
- It may be time to look at getting some good advice from someone who knows what they are talking about.
If you are still not sure if you should buy a new window or repair the old one just think of what you will get with your new window: better insulating, better security, and better energy efficiency.
Still, at the end of the day, only you can tell if you need to get a new window or just the old one repaired. You also have to remember that some of the first PVC windows went in about forty years ago and they are still working perfectly today. So, before you make up your mind, try to get quotes and advice from at least two different companies, because price can vary by great amounts in the window trade.
Info & Maintenance Tips
Most people think that when they get new PVC windows fitted that they will last a lifetime trouble free. But the fact is, the only part that is guaranteed to last is the plastic, and this usually only guarantees that discoloring and warping won't happen for about ten to fifteen years. The double glazing can guarantee that, for about five to seven years, fogging won't happen. The new glazing can have a twenty-year guarantee, but you should always check first. Locks, handles, hinges and, more or less anything that moves, will only have a two-year guarantee. Some will last for years longer, depending on how much use they get. But, to get the most out of your moving parts, make sure you grease them once a year. This will reduce the wear and tear on them and make them last for years. Also, if you live near the sea, you should get a tin of spray grease and give your hinges and lock a spray all over. This will keep the salty air off the metal and stop any corrosion happening to them.
Note : If you do need to call someone to come and fix your windows, it is best to get a few quotes. Prices will vary by big amounts. The time it takes you to make a few phone calls can save you a good bit of money
If you have any questions or want to add some information, just add them to the comments below
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Questions & Answers
Question: I can take the handle off, move the handle up and down on the windows, the seal is not melted but still can't open the window to see if the hinges are dirty etc. Is the window shot or is there something you can recommend to get UPVC windows open?
Answer: The backset in the lock is broken and your window is now stuck in the locked position. It's not a big job but if you know nothing about window locks it's best to get a window repairman. As you would need to know where the cams are to get this open. Then once opened you will need a new lock as you will not be able to lock it again until one is fitted
Question: We can open the lock on our uPVC window and turn the handle, but it doesn't appear to release the bolt at the bottom. How do we get the window to open?
Answer: It sounds like the back set is broken in the lock. Once opened you will not be able to lock it again. You will need a new lock. If you don't know what type of lock to order, you more than likely will not be able to get it to open. You would do better to call a professional.
Question: How can I free off a DG tilt type window when the mechanism seems jammed?
Answer: Try wd 40 - the small nozzle will get inside the seal to the cams plus you will need to do this every couple of inches to make sure you get all the cams. If this does not work there could be something broken and you will need someone who knows about tilt & turn windows as there are many different parts to them.
Question: My bay window frame has dropped and you can see daylight through one side of each opener when closed. I'm sure the bay has sagged, the windows are at least 25 years old. Can I get the bay lifted and pack it out or is it new window time?
Answer: Sounds like its just the window hinges are gone. Or the the sashes (sashs are the part that open) just need to be re-packed. Its not a big job and should only take about 45 minutes.
Question: I have taken the lock off my window and intended to put a new one on, but I can't get the spindle out of the window. It doesn't look jammed, but I just can't get hold of it. How best can I remove the spindle from my window?
Answer: I have no idea what you mean. As locks cannot be taken out of the window if the handle spindle is still in them. But try WD40 and a tap of a hammer
Question: I moved into a new building last June and have just noticed that my main bedroom window handles are very loose with one that just spins around and the window won’t actually close properly if you put your hand on it whilst it is closed it will just open again. Do you know why this is?
Answer: Sounds like the espage lock is broken. This is the part inside the window. The handle spindle goes into it. But once the back of the espage breaks the handle will just spin around. Not a big job and should be sorted by the person you just bought the house from. As it is more than likely that the builder broke it.
Question: I have unlocked my car window with the key but still can't push the button in to turn the handle. What can I do to fix this problem with my car window?
Answer: You need a new handle. As the lock is no longer working. Note - you can force the hand open which will burst the lock. BUT the handle will still work fine. It just means you won't be able to lock the handle.
Annie Ogier on August 20, 2019:
I can't open my bathroom window I closed it and it locked then opened it again as it seemed to stick to the bottom of the seal, so closed it again now can't open it it seems it's stuck at the bottom of the seal can't see any dirt or anything though I've tried a few things to get it to open but just won't budge the lock seems ok you can move it up and down. Window seems to be stuck/jammed at the bottom what do you suggest I do get a professional to sort it or try steps to get it to open?
karim on April 01, 2019:
my double glazed windows wont open past 3inches
Thair Hassan on February 13, 2019:
Can you advice me if my upvc window were the handle lock attache is worn in the window side ?
Martin (author) from Ireland on November 14, 2014:
-To above Read the hub - Only replace windows IF your old pvc window is working out more expensive to upgrade. As some people upgrade there double glazing and repair some hinges. BUT sometimes the cost of new glazing & hinges and paying someone to do this work can work out more expensive than a new window. Plus new windows now come with an energy rating the same as fridges. So a new window will more than likely be an A rated window. BUT if you upgrade your old window you still CAN NOT get an energy rating on it. AND if you could the highest it more than likely would be is a D or C rated window because the old pvc frames have steel reinforcement which draws in Cold. So if you are thinking of upgrading glass or getting repairs done. It might be worth your while to get a price on a new window.
What... on November 14, 2014:
What??? after 10 0r more years you are advising to "replace old uPVC windows" ??? why!!
that windows should least min 20-30 years when are well maintained.
Most of the UK uPVC windows aren't intalled correctly and that is huge Issues.
huge holes between wall and window frame, wthout expanding foam.
Linda on January 08, 2014:
Great info about fixing windows