HOW TO DO SPIRAL BALANCES INSTALL
You normally don’t have to take the window out for spiral balances install, but you will probably need a good choice of new screws of differing lengths handy for the reinstallation process.
You don’t necessarily need to take the blinds down.
Prop the window up. Put a cushion on the sill as well in case. Whatever you use if you’re holding the window up, it will disconnect when you start to push on the screws. Someone mentioned a milk crate.
The only Sydney supplier who carries stock that I know of is Mitre 10, 81 Beauchamp Rd., Matraville 8336 8336 at the trade counter, and ask for Troy.
www.kingsfordtimber.com.au who can also order for you
Recently Crescent Timber in Annandale started stocking balances as well, but is not yet as reliable as Mitre 10 Matraville for sizes.
Whitco codes for orders listed below. Not so easy.
Wood window? aluminium? etc
Ring for assistance 0416041612
The coding is below.
VERY HEAVY WINDOWS
44 Riverside Drive Chipping Norton
Andrew on 87072000, but these are only spring balancers and can be made locally to 24kgs.
ALUMINIUM AND TIMBER WINDOW SPIRALS RESPECTIVELY
TIMBER WINDOWS – HOW-TO-DO
Old balances used to be 13mm, and new ones are 14mm. Balances last 15 years.
Looking underneath the sash you will see a metal tag with two screws each end. You have to get on your knees to see them underneath.
If the screws are not phillips head, tap your screw driver with a small hammer to clear the paint out of the flathead screws, and unscrew.
It’s worth trying to protect the screw holes, but often impossible, so you may need to prise the tag out and have longer screws handy when you reinstall. The screw nearest the frame will almost always just tear out, because it will be screwed INTO the grain of the style supporting it.
DON’T START AT THE TOP
When you undo, CARE. The balancer may be tension loaded. DON’T start with the screw holding the spiral at the top. Nasty accidents may happen if it is still spring-loaded. The spiral will tension-spin with a screw in it, and it can crack the glass; or worse, rip your fingers or take your eye out. BE CAREFUL if it is still an active spiral. Only then unscrew…or prise out the balancer from the top.
PICK THE RIGHT SIDE TO START ON
Start on the side where the balance had already stopped working and finish that one first. Saves propping up the window the whole job. If the window didn’t work at all, take your pick.
You can tell by lifting each side before you start and seeing which side drops if the window had still been somewhat working.
TO FIT THE NEW ONE
DON’T COUNT ON THE OLD ONE BEING THE RIGHT SIZE
The spiral balance below was too short.
Add 80 mm to the overall “extended length” from sill to where the balance was screwed in at the top.
The above example allowed only about 20 mm and snapped off.
Slide the new spiral down the edge of the sash once you have removed the old one. It should slide down smoothly; then affix at the top. Sometimes you need to pick a new screw position. Have your choice of screws and screw driver ready, then lift the sash FULLY up.
Underneath, use your index finger feed the balancer ‘wire’ all the way up, then wind four full clockwise turns and have your first screw ready. Screw in, the medium one first. Make sure you fed the balancer down with the spiral somewhat extended, or you won’t see the tag come out underneath.
Do the other side.
You may later have to tailor the tension; anticlockwise reduces tension.
IF THE SPIRAL BALANCE DOESN’T GO DOWN SMOOTHLY
Old balances were thinner, and furthermore, wood swells. If the new one won’t slide down –
TAKE THE STOP BEAD OFF
Take the entire sash out, and route to 15mm each end of the sash to allow free movement of new spiral balancer.
This happens a lot, and is why timber window spiral balance replacement can call for extra work.
ALUMINIUM WINDOWS- NOT SO EASY – A MULTITUDE OF TRAPS.
DIY balances in aluminium windows can destroy some of your DIY confidence.
A milk crate is handy because you can stand on it, and you can sit on it when working upwards on the bottom of the window. Experience, but due to safety, not a recommendation.
You might want your reading glasses; a rag; perhaps a torch; and importantly, some clamp pliers below. A magnetic-head phillips head screw driver also helps in reinserting screws “uphill”.
At the very top is likely a plate covering where the top of the balancer is screwed in. Unscrew and gently prise out with screw driver. If it is rivetted in, chisel the rivet head off. These stop-plates stop the window going up too far, and you just reaffix with a new screw after.
Lift the bottom sash all the way up and support the side you are not working on with your clamp pliers. Care it’s secure. If one spiral was still working, start with the other one.
Undo the screw or screws supporting a ‘metal tag’ underneath. Sit on your milk crate. The screws will often be stuck tight, and is common.
Lightly hammer the end of your screw driver covering your screw driver handle with a rag to get it started if it is tight.
Normal, and very disconcerting; especially in coastal suburbs from corrosion aspect.
A small “tag” will drop out; or at least wriggle it out.
The “foot”of the balancer ultimately slots into the recess of the “tag” below under tension once finished.
DON’T misplace or mix up the two screws that come out i.e. which came from where. The one nearer the end may be longer.
Let the sash back down and unscrew the spiral at the top using the LONG screwdriver (useful) and slide out the balance.
Depending if the other side worked before or not, is what to do next.
Basically, if the balancer is still ‘alive’, the specialised tool inserts and catches the hole in the balancer up underneath, best seen with your glasses and torch. If you finally ‘catch’ it, pull down an inch or two and allow the tension to release slowly anticlockwise.
If not working, pull the wire part of the balancer out from the bottom and undo from the top.
Reinstall new balances.
The trick here is you MAY manage to spiral balances install without taking the ‘foot’ off side two by completely installing side TWO first. Useful when the screws for the ‘tag’ are hard to get undone, which is fairly usual.
You can manouvre side two away from the frame enough to jiggle the balancer down WHILE THE SPIRAL IS EXTENDED. With the tag absent in SIDE ONE, there is now some freeplay in the sash. The wire end of the spiral may appear past the ‘still-secured’ foot on SIDE TWO.
If so, secure at the top without losing the other end; then lift the sash and wind in the balancer clockwise 3 turns.
When finished, undo one turn to make the window travel more easily if wanted.
Back to the first side, feed down the balance. It will never go in just trying to push it down. This is normal. Use your flathead screwdriver to prise the sash to open it up a bit so the balancer will go down. It is a VERY tight fit, and DON’T worry.
MAKE SURE this new spiral was mostly EXTENDED when you try to slide it down. It won’t come out at the bottom if you don’t.
Screw in at the top MAKING SURE IT APPEARED underneath.
Affix at the top.
Manouver the wire part of the balancer into the existing “foot”, and only then use the tension tool at the bottom to wind the balancer clockwise up. Use your index finger to get the “wire” part up as far as feasible. The sash has to be ALL the way up to set properly.
Tension three full turns clockwise, perhaps two. Two helps grandma use the window later. Heavy aluminium windows, adjust later.
Tailor difficulty pulling the window up or down by changing tension. Fish out the hole in the balancer underneath, pull down an inch or two and release one turn anticlockwise.
Using a dowel, or even a thick-gauge drill bit, tap the spiral footing securely so it is “home”.
DOING TOP SASH
Undo its feet after removing tension on one side, and follow steps.
DOING BOTH SASHES
Take both “feet” off the bottom sash once the spirals have been removed, and completely lift out the bottom sash and put over by the fireplace. Do the top sash.
Just go with a same-sized spiral for the top.
In aluminium windows, the big issue is which type of balancer mechanism exists. Spiral balancers “with no foot” is standard but there are other systems.
You need to have an idea if the window is more than 6kgs, and especially if it is more than 10kgs.
IF THE EXISTING RECESS IS TOO TIGHT IN TIMBER WINDOWS Timber windows
The sash will need to be taken out by removing one of the stop beads after old spirals have been removed. (CARE: they may still be spring loaded).
Then route the recess to 15mm, checking the new one slides nicely, before putting the sash back in, and then sliding down the new spirals.
WHEN THERE SEEMS TO BE NO FACILITY FOR SASHCORDS OR SPIRAL BALANCES
Some very old timber windows used yet another system that is not self-evident. These windows require a system changeover to spiral balancers, requiring routing the sash ends as below to accommodate these new spirals.
MEASURING FOR CORRECT SPIRALS – Whitco
I don’t personally recommend UNIQUE spiral balancers, ESPECIALLY the 11mm diameter thin ones if your new 14mm won’t slide in properly. Don’t play around with these thin spirals.
Measure from where previous spiral was screwed in at the top down to the closed position at the sill (extended height), then add at least 100mm.
WHITCO SPIRAL BALANCER CODE SYSTEM
See TROY at the Mitre 10 Trade Counter, www.kingsfrordtimber.com.au, who offers excellent help.
Whitco spiral balancers use a code such as W614802117
(W = Whitco; 61 = spiral balancer;
480 = the extended length;
2 = Weight rating (1 = 4-7kgs; 2 = 7-10kgs; 3 = 10 – 14 kgs)
0 or 1 (1 means has a foot, ie timber windows, 0 = aluminium
17 means black, their only color now.
Thus, W 61 480 2 1 17
This has to be less than the overall length of the top sash, and when fully extended, must have a limiter at the bottom in the track to prevent the balancer ‘popping out’. Mark maximum extension with a pencil before installing and nail a chock to stop hyperextension.
This is a guide only, and personal safety must always be considered. Methods mentioned are this of the undersigned only.
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0416 0416 12