How do I open this window?
June 10, 2005 7:14 PM   Subscribe

There's a window in my apartment ideally situated to take an air conditioner, but I can't get it open. I'm fairly sure it is not simply stuck, but is rather possessed of a design beyond my spatial reasoning abilities.

The window is three feet wide and one and a half feet high. It's located five feet off of the floor in the middle of a wall. There are normal double-hung windows on either side, but for several reasons (my one year old baby, my desk situated along this wall) the high window is perfect for an air conditioner. The window is constructed of vinyl and aluminum, and installed within an old wooden frame that used to hold a stained glass panel (the twin of which resides in the next room) which was removed when an earlier tenant installed their AC unit (along with a 20-amp outlet less than an inch away to add to the frustration).

On the inside of the window an inch or so down from the top is a vinyl lip or rail, clearly intended as a gripping point, which runs the width of the window. A second grip runs an inch or so above the bottom of the inside of the window. Using this lower grip I can easily slide the window up about half an inch into the wall above, before progress is halted by unknown powers. Even if it were to slide freely, though, the upper grip would soon contact the top of the window frame preventing further motion. This has made me wonder if I'm supposed to be able to raise the window up and then pivot the bottom edge out and up. But I can't find any evidence of a hinging mechanism. A view from the outside provides no additional hints. There are no grips or hinges that I can see; nor can I spot any roadblocks (such as large nails) placed to prevent the window from opening. I might assume that I'm just not supposed to open this window, but the fact that it slides up just enough to see a crack of daylight underneath provides enough of a hint to the contrary to keep me trying.

A picture is worth a thousand words, so I took nine pictures this evening and posted them (along with a plea for help) at my own site. I hope you'll all forgive this self-link; I can't think of a better way to illustrate the problem. I've seen plenty of self links used to suplement or illustrate answers here, but I'm not sure whether I've seen them used to supplement or illustrate questions, so I acknowledge that I'm in a grey area.

But please, does anyone have any ideas? You can't imagine how hot it is here at the keyboard beneath a silently mocking window.
posted by Songdog to Home & Garden (10 answers total)
I could be way off here, but is there any chance that the windows are installed upside down? Can you lower the upper window?
posted by puddinghead at 8:04 PM on June 10, 2005

According to this website:
Carefully pry the trim off, then spray a lubricant such as furniture wax or WD-40 along all the surfaces where trim and window meet. Finally, nail the trim back on, but be sure to move it out an eighth of an inch from its previous spot, to compensate for that swelling.
posted by ori at 8:41 PM on June 10, 2005

Finally, I can't resist the temptation to share this page, which I encountered in my googling. You might it speaks to you on more than one level. Through my window.
posted by ori at 8:46 PM on June 10, 2005

It almost looks like this is a former double-hung or single-hung window that was chopped in half to fit in the unusual space. It likely was not installed with the intention of removing it or opening it. You'll probably have to at least take of the inside trim, if not the outside trim to really see what is going on. This shouldn't be a big deal though. Just do it carefully with a prybar after cutting around all the edges with a utility knife to prevent big swaths of paint coming loose.

After you get the trim off, you may see a way to remove the window itself from the metal frame, or there may be no way to remove it without removing the entire metal frame.

As I re-look at your pictures it looks less and less like you'll have an easy time of this. Are you sure the previous tenant has an AC unit in this window and not in one of the nearby double-hung windows?
posted by jacobsee at 8:55 PM on June 10, 2005

Response by poster: Pretty sure. It's not visible in the pictures but just out of view to the lower left of the window is this weirdo 20-amp 115-volt socket. It's less than a quarter of an inch from the window frame, but three or four feet from the next closest window. It is entirely possible that the landlord (or perhaps another tenant) had this window put in or modified somehow after the AC was removed.

Whatever I do to this window (prying off trim, etc.) I need to be able to undo it suitably if it doesn't solve the problem, or when the time comes to move out. I want to get the thing open and install an AC, but it isn't worth the old security deposit.
posted by Songdog at 9:02 PM on June 10, 2005

As the above poster has already stated, that window was likely not intended to be opened in any way. I can say with almost 100% certainty that the window will not slide up into the wall above. The movement you are getting is likely just slack in the frame around the window.

Landlords will generally take the cheapest/easiest solution to a given problem, and as jacobsee said, this is likely just a part of another window that's been cobbled together by an installer.

If there is trim around the inside that is removable, try pulling it off and seeing if you can get the window out somehow. If somebody installed it, it had to be possible to remove.

I'm not too sure how your landlord would feel about this whole project (removing the window)

Good luck
posted by davey_darling at 9:04 PM on June 10, 2005

Response by poster: No, it won't slide up. First of all it doesn't budge in that direction and second of all the grip near the top would prevent motion if it did. But at one time the AC was there. Here's a picture of the outlet I mentioned. The trim at upper right is the lower left corner of the window frame.

Our lease specifically mentions that we're allowed to have an AC only in two particular vaguely specified places, of which this seems to be one.
posted by Songdog at 9:08 PM on June 10, 2005

If the lease mentions that you're allowed to have an air conditioner in two places, and you suspect that that is one of them, then if you can get an agreement (in writing!) from your landlord that this is one of the places, then you have a much stronger case for removing the window.

However, you'll certainly be required to replace the window when you leave, to the same standard of the current installation unless you leave your air conditioner and the landlord agrees that it's a fair swap.
posted by 5MeoCMP at 11:30 PM on June 10, 2005

Did you ask the landlord about it? Maybe they know the trick.
posted by bcwinters at 9:18 AM on June 11, 2005

I doubt that window is meant to open. You could remove it to install the air conditioner, though. I would check with the landlord before performing that sort of construction.
posted by caddis at 1:13 PM on June 11, 2005

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