How can I get my upper window to slide down to install a solar heater? It looks like it should be able to.

With the winter heating months upon us again, I had an idea for a window-mounted active solar air heater to help supplement heat and reduce my killer bills (electric baseboard through the entire house).

I have 39 panel solar array on my roof, but with the cloudy and snowy weather, they do not perform as well as during the spring and summer.  During the winter is when I need the electric bill reduced the most and I want to make solar heaters to do so.

The solar idea I had was basically a box mounted over the outside of the window.  The heater will make a natural thermosiphon of rising hot air that will come out of an outlet in the top of the box and enter through an inlet in the bottom.  I need to have the heater mounted over the window because snow slides off my panels, down the eaves and onto the ground.  I'm afraid of building a diagonal heater and putting it on the ground because I'm certain that the roof snow would destroy it.

Now, I can get the bottom of the window to open to allow for the inlet, but I can't get the top of the window to slide down to make room for the top outlet.  Looking at the window, I see no reason why it shouldn't be able to slide down when I take the lock off.  It's cut like the bottom part, it's on a track like the bottom, everything's the same.

I've tried prying the window, I tried a pizza cutter around the window in case of paint , lubrication on the tracks - all the normal stuck-window stuff.  I doubt that's the issue because the frame seems to be loose.

What I think is that the window may be nailed in from the side or top, but I really don't have any way to tell and I'm sort of stuck as to what I can do to get the window to slide.

Has anybody else dealt with this before or do you have any ideas how to get it to work?

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Burf8 years ago

You should find out if they are painted shut. Get a putty knife and run it around the edge of the window, top to bottom on both sides, inside and outside. You might have to persuade it with a hammer, but do it gently.

If the putty knife moves smoothly along the window, or it is impossible to get between the sash and the moldings, the windows may be nailed shut. Sometimes people nail the upper window in place. Then, only the lower window needs to be maintained.

The nails might be through the frame in front of the glass, under the sash, or there may be a piece of wood nailed into the frame to hold the upper sash in place. There is no absolute answer. You just have to look carefully at the windows and eliminate every possible reason why they don't work.

The last possibility is that they are jammed into the frames due to age and settling of the house, swelling or warping of the wood. In that case, your only option is to remove the moldings holding the sash in place, and remove the sash. Once they are out, you can plane or cut them so that they better fit the opening.

iPodGuy (author)  Burf8 years ago
Thanks for your response and tips.  I highly doubt it's paint at this point because I can get the frame to wiggle slightly and I have been able to get a putty knife all around it.  The wiggling also leads me to believe that it's not a problem with swelling or settling.

I'm really leaning towards the nails at this point.  There are two holes on the inside of the window with tiny plastic caps and I looked for nails behind those, but my drill bit didn't hit any metal when I drilled them out.

I think if I can fit a hacksaw blade between the tracks and the window frame itself, I could trace around to find out if there are any nails and cut them. 

But, I agree.  It's a guessing game for sure.
seandogue8 years ago
Presumably the window operates using sash weights?

If it feels loose but won't move, it's quite possible that the sash cord is tangled or otherwise trapped inside the frame..
iPodGuy (author)  seandogue8 years ago
No, it's not a weighted window.
ah well...worth a try. Maybe they shot the screw(s) (or nail(s)) in from the trim then spackled and painted over. Can you strip the facing to look for hidden holes??
lemonie8 years ago
This is a sash window? It could well be nailed / screwed - look very carefully over the frame for lumps / dents in the paintwork.

iPodGuy (author)  lemonie8 years ago
I saw two areas where I thought there might be nails.  I drilled them out and didn't hit any metal.

I'll have to go over the outside again to see if there are any areas that might look like they have nails.

My fear is that they were nailed in the other direction - from the frame itself into the sliding top window's wood.  That'll be a tough one to find.
orksecurity8 years ago
Or it could simply be anchored by a bridge of paint between sash and frame, if the house painters were sloppy last time around. If so, it'll want to be cut free. Hardware and paint stores have a tool specifically for this purpose, which is a bit faster, or you can just use a suitable knife.
iPodGuy (author)  orksecurity8 years ago
At this point, I really doubt it's paint.  I can fit a putty knife completely around the window and get it to slightly wiggle.  I've dealt with painted shut windows before and this just doesn't feel the same, you know?
He says I doubt that's the issue because the frame seems to be loose.
I think someone's nailed or screwed it somewhere.