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The most common repairs to sash windows are replacing broken sash cords and damaged or loose beads. When a cord breaks, you have to take the sash right out of the frame to replace it - so it's a good idea to replace both at the same time. You can be sure that if one breaks, the other will soon go too.
If you've removed both sashes, replace the cords on the upper sash first and fit it back in the frame. Then do the same for the lower sash.
Top tip - Stop knot
A figure-of-eight knot in the sash cord will stop the weight slipping off the end. First, make a loop in the cord about 75mm from the end. Then take the end round the back of the cord to form a figure-of-eight. Finally, bring it back to the front and pass it through the first loop.
Where the cord was broken, tie a 50mm nail or screw to a piece of string and push it into the hole above the pulley. Then feed the string through the hole so it drops down into the weight compartment and you can retrieve it from the pocket.
Tie lengths of new cord - each at least one and a half times the depth of the window frame - to the ends of the strings hanging from the pulleys. Pull each cord over the pulley, down into the weight compartment and out through the pocket.
Remove the string from each cord, thread the cord through the hole in the top of the weight and tie it with a stop knot. Tuck the end into the cavity at the top of the weight, put the weights back in the pockets and replace the pocket covers.
Before replacing the lower sash in the frame, you'll need to refit the parting beads - unless you've taken out the upper sash, in which case you should put that back in first.
Tap the parting beads back into their slots with a mallet (you may need to use an old screwdriver or chisel to clean out any debris first). If the parting beads were nailed rather than pushed in, they're likely to have split when you removed them - so they'll need replacing. Measure the window and cut new parting beads to the correct length. Plane or sand them if they're too thick, then tap them into place.
Rest the lower sash on the sill and get a helper to pull the cords and raise the weights to their highest position. Tie a knot in each cord level with the knot holes in the sides of the sash and cut off the extra cord. If the knot holes are damaged, secure the cord with three or four galvanised clout nails and replace the sash in the frame.
Refit the staff beads on each side of the frame. You can do this by tapping them into place with the mallet, then nail them with 25mm oval nails - but don't drive the nails all the way in. Check first that the sashes move up and down without sticking and adjust the beads in or out if you need to.
When you're happy that your window operates smoothly, hammer the nails in all the way. Use wood filler to repair any damage before you touch up or repaint the whole window.