Q: I have three windows with glass that's either cracked or fogged. These windows, original to my early 1980s house, are double-hung and framed in wood, with vinyl on the frame and a string-type mechanism. I cannot find any identifying marks. I understand that I can have new double-pane glass installed, but I would like to bring the windows in without having the glass company come out and remove/reinstall for me. I can't figure out how to remove the window assembly from the frame, and I'm afraid of causing damage or having springs flying apart. Any suggestions?

Fairfax Station, Va.

A: The procedure for extracting a sash varies depending on the manufacturer, so you may need to try a few different procedures — or, if nothing works, opt to have a glass-replacement company do it.

Tim Connelly, a customer service representative for Swisco (856-317-6263; swisco.com), which sells a wide variety of replacement hardware for windows, took a look at the pictures you sent and said he thinks you might have Malta double-hung windows that tilt for cleaning. They have a pin that goes into the side jambs, so you can’t just pull the sash out toward you. Instead, remove the window screen, if there is one, and raise the front sash about four inches, enough so you can pull the top toward you, rotating the sash so it’s horizontal. Then lift one side and lower the other, which should free the pins so you can remove the sash.

Or, if the window doesn’t tilt, Connelly suggested using a putty knife to gently pry back the vinyl enough to free the sash. But be cautious, because you don’t want to ruin the vinyl. As a last resort, he said, you might need to gently pry off the wood molding that’s holding the vinyl in place.

Sam Zmanga, a dispatcher for Metro Windows and Glass Repair in Falls Church (703-586-5537; metrowindowsglassrepair.com), also looked at your pictures and came up with a different hunch. He thinks that freeing a sash might be as simple as pressing it sideways enough to compress the liner on one side to free the other side of the sash. “You need a certain force,” he said.

John Weaver, a customer service representative for Circle Glass and Mirror in Fairfax (703-273-2700; circleglassandmirror.com), also suggested pushing the sash sideways or pressing directly against the vinyl to compress it.

Or you might have windows where a spring mechanism is tucked into the liner at the top of the window. For these, start by lowering both sashes, which would reveal screws into the vinyl jamb liner on one side and a line where upper and lower sections of the liner meet. Remove the screws, raise both sashes and remove the screws at the bottom of the liner. You should now be able to pull out the lower portion of the liner. Then you can lower the front sash and pull it out. A YouTube video from This Old House (thisoldhouse.com) shows the procedure on Andersen windows.

Whatever method you use, the freed sash may still be connected by a cord to a balance mechanism. While holding onto the sash, you will need to pull out the end cap on the cord, possibly using pliers. Don’t just pull it out and let go, though, or it will slam into the balance mechanism. To make sure you can hold onto it and let it retract gently, Connelly suggested securing vise grips around the cord first, after first wrapping a cloth around the cord to protect it.

Because there is always a risk that you might break the glass — or shatter the window that’s already cracked — wear safety goggles and gloves as you work.

You don’t say why you want to remove the sash yourself. If it is to save money, call around first to make sure doing this step yourself really will accomplish that goal. Zmanga said Metro Windows and Glass Repair charges $195 to $250 per sash, regardless of whether a sash is in the window or out. The company’s usual procedure is to make one visit to give a free estimate and take measurements. If the customer wants to proceed, the company orders the glass, which usually takes a couple of days to arrive. The company then goes back to install the glass. Both trips are covered by the fee.

However, at Circle Glass, taking out the sashes and delivering them to the shop for measuring would save money. You could then take them home, reinstall them while the glass units are being made (typically around two weeks, Weaver said), and return when the glass is ready. The cost of the glass, typically around $100, is the same, regardless of who does that work, Weaver said. But the labor cost when a customer brings in a window is only $25, while the minimum for a house visit is $235, with an additional charge of $50 for each window beyond one.

Perhaps your reason for wanting to remove the sash yourself is to avoid the risk of exposure during the coronavirus pandemic. There is no way for a glass company to remove the sash from outside of your home. It would be a security risk if windows were made to come apart that way. But you could minimize risk by leaving a map by the front door that shows which windows have problems and asking the window person to wear a mask and gloves. That way, you can stay out of the way while he or she works — but not so far away that you can’t say thanks as the person leaves.

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