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What is a Sash Cord?

By Anna B. Smith
Updated May 16, 2024
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A sash cord is a piece of braided fabric that is attached to the inside of a window. The term sash generally refers to windows with parts that move, either horizontally or vertically, to allow the window to open. The window moves through the pulley action of the sash cord, which also causes it to remain open without falling.

These are typically only found in double-hung windows. This is a window with separate upper and lower panes, surrounded by either wood or vinyl. Double-hung windows usually open via the vertical movement of the lower pane. This type is mainly found on older homes.

The sash cord operates on a pulley system attached to the inside of the window casing. Typically, the window will contain two sash cords, one on either side of the pane assembly. The cord is boxed within the window casing, so that the whole of the pulley and weight mechanism is hidden from view. A small portion of the cord may be visible when the window is shut in certain types of construction. This boxed casement is attached to the frame by a metal assembly that screws directly into the wood or vinyl.

Weights are attached to the bottom portion of the sash cords. This allows the cords to move through the pulley system each time the window is opened and shut, with a relatively light amount of force. These cords, made from braided fabric or thread, experience a lot of friction over time and can break. Windows that fail to open, or fall shut once opened, may have a broken sash cord.

Replace sash cords in pairs when updating the window assembly. This will ensure that both new cords receive equal amounts of wear, and that the window will open and shut smoothly. This technique also prevents future breakage of damaged sash cords that may not snap at the same time as their counterpart.

Sash cords may be replaced by a professional contractor or by the homeowner. Instructions are available online or may be purchased at home improvement stores where sash cords are sold. To replace a sash cord, remove the outer window casing and metal assembly to gain access to the existing damaged cords and the weight mechanisms within. Replace the old, damaged parts with new cords and weights. Once the cords are replaced, the repaired window should resume moving smoothly and remain open without falling.

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