Skip to content
Ultimate Window Balance Guide

The Ultimate Window Balance Guide

The world of windows can be daunting and overwhelming with technical jargon and many, many different parts to choose from. Here at Window Hardware Direct, we aim to make this industry more accessible and understandable. One of the most common problems and often the most confusing aspect is window balances. With this guide, we’re going to introduce you to some of the more common types of window balances, explain how they function and give a brief overview of how to replace them. If there isn’t a direct replacement, as is common, we will discuss newer, modern technology that you can convert your windows to. 

What is a Window Balance?

A window balance (sometimes called a sash balance, window spring, or window "balancer") is a somewhat hidden window component sitting inside the window frame. Window balances are only found in double-hung or single windows and counterbalance the weight of the sash assisting you with opening and closing your windows. Window balances are found in both residential and commercial windows. There are many different styles, types, and sizes of window balances, so finding the correct replacement can be tricky and at times frustrating continue reading to learn more about specific types of window balances and how they function. 

Block and Tackle Window Balances

Currently one of the most common window balances, block and tackle window balance systems includes a combination of two or more pulleys, a cord, and a spring. The pulleys are grouped as the “block” to reduce the load the homeowner feels. In addition, as the cord (or “tackle”) is pulled by the movement of the sash it stretches or compresses the springs, which are weighted to match the sash weight. The pulleys and springs assist with opening and closing the window. Block and tackle balances are selected based on the length of the metal channel and the stamp. Our 300 Series and 400 Series balances are classic examples of this type of balance and will most likely replace your current balance. There are also tilt versions of this balance, our 450 series fits this description. We have plenty of detailed articles on how to install block and tackle balances, how to measure block and tackle balances, and many more


Spiral Window Balances

Another very common window balance is spiral window balances. Spiral window balances aid in opening windows, as well as holding windows open by utilizing a spiral-shaped rod within a tube. This rod connects to a spring, which is what provides the tension for supporting the sash. The tension is adjusted by being wound (using a spiral balance tensioning tool) to match the sash it is supporting. Spiral balances are one of the simplest types of balances to find replacements for. All you need is the length of the metal tube, color of the coupling on the end, and whether your window is tilt on non-tilt (sideload). If you don't know your coupling color, you will need to weigh your sash. The weight corresponds to a coupling color. You can find more information about spiral balances such how to measure spiral balances, how to install spiral balances and more by checking out our blog.


Coil Spring Window Balances

Coil spring window balances are a type of constant force window balance. These balances work by using stainless steel, coiled spring as a counterbalance. This type of balance system is designed to be more durable and quieter than other balance systems. There are several parts to a coil spring balance system: the coil, the balance spring cover, the balance drum, and the pivot lock shoe. To find replacements for your balances it is best if we have pictures of your current balance system along with your sash weight. We currently have our Series 31 Roller Tilt balance available online, but we have other series available as well. To have your coil spring balances identified, check out our article on how to submit window parts for identification.


Crossbow / Inverted Block & Tackle Window Balances

Crossbow balances are an older style tilt window balance that are no longer made. These types are functionally similar to inverted block and tackle balances. They are so similar that we convert all of our customers to inverted block and tackle window balances.

Contact Us Today to be Converted Out of a Crossbow Balance and into the Correct Inverted Block & Tackle Balance! (Our 747 or 716 Series Inverted Block & Tackle Balances Aren't Online Yet, Please Call to Order).

To be converted out of a crossbow balance and into an inverted block and tackle balance we need the following information: 

1) The whole sash height

2) The glass height

3) The weight of your sash. To get an accurate weight you will need to remove the sash and weigh it using a bathroom scale or something similar.

4) The width of the plastic T shaped piece. It should either be 15/16" or 1-1/4".

Inverted block and tackle balances function similar to standard block and tackle balances except that the string comes out of the top of the balance instead of the bottom. These tilt balances work in conjunction with a T-lock shoe to allow your window to tilt inwards. If you need to replace your inverted block and tackle window balance just take a look at your stamp, the length of the metal channel, and the weight of your sash to find the correct replacement.

Clock Spring Window Balances

Clock Spring window balances are an older style window balance, often found in older wood windows. This type of balances is similar to the previously mentioned coil spring balances in that they use a coiled metal spring to counter balance the weight of the sash. There are a two ways these balances can be mounted in your jamb, overhead or side mounted. If you are interested in learning more about replacing your clock spring window balances, give us a call and we'll be happy to help guide you. 


Rope and Pulley Window Balances

This is the original window balance system. This type of window balances uses large weights to counterbalance the sash. These weights are hidden in cavities beyond the jambs. The weights are connected to ropes or chains and travel up and down as the sash is raised or lowered. The most common problem with this type or balance system is that the ropes will fray and break over time. The most common solution to this problem is to simply replace the chains. Depending on your window you may be able to upgrade to a newer balance system. If you need help determining what option is best for you, just give us a call and we'll be happy to discuss your options with you. 


Hybrid Window Balance Systems

This type of balance system is the newest and most efficient technology to date. These balance use pre-tensioned inner torsion springs to provide the lowest friction and highest lift assistance of any balance system on this list. These balances are custom tensioned to your specific sash weight and provide 80% lift assistance. Examples of this balance system are our proprietary Turbo2™ balance system. Contact us to learn more about how the Turbo2 balance system can improve the functionality and efficiency of your windows. 


This is a basic overview of some of the most common balance systems. There are other types of balance systems out there. If you have questions about how to replace your current window balance system or questions about window balances in general, contact uschat with us, or give us a call at 1-800-842-0974 and we'll be happy to assist you. 

Previous article Bay Window Repair: A Guide to Restoring Elegance to Your Home