How to Replace Window Locks

If you live in a home that is more than 10 or so years old, chances are the locks on your windows are wearing out and may need to be replaced. Every time you go to open or close a window, that locking and latching mechanism is put under stress. This is normal though, and I’m going to talk about how to replace window locks and latches.

The good news is, these locks and latches are easy to replace and are a fraction of the cost of a new window. So, this spring, when you go to open the windows and a latch or lock breaks – don’t worry, take a look at these easy steps below to replace it!

Types of Window Locks and Latches

Most typical modern windows have a locking mechanism at the top of the lower window that locks it into place with the stationary upper window. This makes it impossible (or at least near impossible) to open the bottom sliding portion in a normal manner. These locking mechanism’s look something like the picture below – note there are different variants, but this is typical. Take a look at Home Depot’s option – they have all different styles.

window locks

Window Lock Location

Take a look at the picture above and note the two sections of the window locking mechanism – the portion with the lever is attached to the lower sliding part of the window and the static receptacle is attached to the static upper window frame. By simply turning the lever arm, a latch is moved into the static receptacle to prevent movement of the lower window.

Window Sash Lock Replacement

Both the lever housing and the static receptacle are fastened to the window frame by small screws. In order to replace these locks in the event they become worn out, one must remove the screws. In the picture above, you can see the screws can be removed with a Phillips head screw driver.

Before removing the latch and housing mechanism, be sure the screw heads are free of dirt or foreign debris – this will help ensure you do not strip out the screws and cause excess damage to you window.

After removing the old latch housing, clean the window frame thoroughly and replace with the new mechanism.  It can be helpful to remove on of these locks and take it to a hardware store with you in order to be sure you’re purchasing the correct one. Another idea is simply purchase it on Amazon!

Window Tilt Latch

There may be other mechanisms on your window frame next to the lock that prevent your window from tilting inward. Many windows have this tilting feature to make it easier to clean the outside of the window. By operating the tilt locks, you enable the top of the bottom half window to tilt inward for access to the outside.

dirty worn out window tilt latch

When operating these spring loaded latches, they tend to wear out and break, requiring replacement just like the locking mechanisms.

Window Tilt Latch Replacement

Replacing these latches are just as easy as replacing a lock – they are held on the window frame by two screws. Be sure to take care when removing these screws that you do not strip them out and damage the window frame.

Just as the locking mechanisms were replaced, the new latch can be installed where the old latch was removed. Be sure to check the operation of the latch after installed and make sure its not being hung up or obstructed. If the spring mechanism seems difficult to operate, do not force it, only remove the latch from the window, identify the issue, and reinstall. Sometimes the spring is not lined up during installation and can get pinched between the housing and the window frame.

Common Parts

Window locks and latches are very common parts – window manufacturers realize that these small, plastic moving parts will break many times over the life of a window. That is why it is easy to find these parts at any local hardware store, or even more conveniently, Amazon. So take a look this spring as you are opening windows or going through and doing a spring cleaning. If you have broken or worn out locks or latching mechanisms on your windows, replace them to ensure your family’s safety as well as the health of your windows.

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