How to Replace a Window Spiral Spring Balance

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How to replace spiral window balances for tilting and non-tilting windows.

When you have a window that no longer remains open when lifted into position, you may need to replace the spring balance. Older windows used cast iron weights on cords that would move up and down inside sash pockets along the sides of the window. Newer spring balances are just as effective, but must be replaced if they become worn out or damaged. Spring balances are modular units and replacing them can be done in a few simple steps. Typical configurations are either channel or tubular.


Flat or Philips head screwdriver

Utility knife

Putty knife

Replacement spring balance

Spiral Balance Tensioning tool


Make sure to purchase a spring balance system that is rated to hold the weight of your window sash. You may want to take the balance to a window and door repair shop to see if they can determine the proper style you need. You can order it through them the first time and then use that information for future orders online. If you know the manufacturer of your windows contact them first for the correct replacement.

1. For non-tilting windows: Locate the window's stop bead against the window jamb on the left or right side and unscrew the screws located at the top, bottom and center of the stop bead. If the window jambs are painted, score the paint between the stop bead and the window jamb and peel the stop bead away from the window.

a. For tilting windows: Raise the lower window sash about 6” from the bottom of the window sill. Tilt the top of the sash into the room. Grab the sides of the lower window sash and angle one side up to disengage the sash from the shoe and remove the window sash from the window. Some windows have an integrated cam lock near the window latch that retracts a pin on either side of the sash to release it from the track. For example Marvin windows use this type of device. Some tilting windows will have a vinyl track that can be pushed in to allow the window to be removed.


2. Grip the left spring balance tape and manually pull out some slack on it with a spiral balance tensioning tool or a pair of needle-nose pliers. This tool is specially designed for removing and winding the spiral balance. Grip the connecting hoop on the end of the left spring balance tape and lift it up and over the hook on the side of the window sash to disconnect it. Repeat for the right spring balance tape.


3. Grip the window sash with the spring balances disconnected and slide it out of the window frame through the side with the stop bead removed.


4. Remove the screws holding the old spring balances to the window jamb. Be careful not to damage these holes since you will mount the new spring balances in the same location.


5. Place a new spiral spring balance over the old mounting location. Insert the screws that came with the new spring balances through the mounting holes on its top and bottom edges. The screws should be attached to the old holes in the window frame. Tighten the screws to secure it. Repeat for the opposite side balance. The balances are reversible so you don’t have to worry about left and right.


6. Position the window sash in front of the window frame. Pull out some slack on the left spiral spring and hook the connecting loop on its end over the hook on the left side of the window sash. Repeat for the right spring balance. Lift and slide the window sash back into the window frame through the side with the stop bead removed.


a. For tilting windows use caution as there are pins or a cam lock on the end of the balance that holds the position of the spring until the sash is placed vertically in the track.


7. For non-tilting windows: Place the stop bead back into position against the window frame, making sure that the mounting holes on the stop bead line up with the mounting holes on the window frame. Attach the stop bead with the original screws into the jamb. If necessary paint the stop bead and window jamb.

How to Order Tubular Spiral Window Balances

1. Insure 3/8 inch (9.5 millimeter) tube diameter of the metal or plastic tube on the old balance.

2. Measure the tube length from the end of the balance to the bottom of the colored nylon bushing only. Do not include the rod extension.

3. Check the color of the nylon bushing. (some distributers use red or blue)

4. Verify that the rod extension protruding from the nylon bushing matches what is shown.

5. Choose required clip from those listed with balance.

6. Match tube diameter, tube length, nylon bushing color and clip against the balance to be replaced. If all agree, then this is the correct balance.

Tubular Spiral Spring Balance

Spiral Balance Tensioning Tool