What If Your Window Doesn’t Lock?

There are a few reasons that this might happen. The most obvious is that the locking mechanism no longer functions. There might be a broken part inside, especially in the case of aluminum windows—those lines can break over time. Other reasons might be that it was just installed improperly. Also sometimes, if houses shift and windows bind, it will alter the shape of the window, and the locking mechanisms will no longer line up.

We’ve all dealt with the issue of a window that won’t lock. Often, it happens with old drafty windows that have seen better days. However, even some new windows in Houston homes can have trouble locking. When the windows won’t lock as Jonathan said, it could be for a multitude of reasons and each situation may be different. For example, when it comes to windows in Houston homes that we’ve installed, we see a recurring reason as the top cause.

#1 Reason New Windows In Houston Homes Fail To Lock

Now, this might surprise you but often, with new windows, it’s not a defect in the window. It’s actually a common user error that happens most with double-hung windows in Houston. Since double-hung windows can open from the top and bottom at the same time it can be the root cause of the failure to lock. When you open the window down from the top you’re moving the sash. However, that also means you’re moving the part that the lock connects with. So, if you open the top sash and then don’t quite close it all the way, the sashes aren’t flush with each other.

What ends up happening is a homeowner will think they’ve pushed the top sash all the way up, when they’re actually off by a fraction of an inch. That little difference matters as the locking mechanism isn’t aligned with the receiver that’s on the other sash. The lever will move like it’s locking but it won’t catch. There’s an easy fix to that though. This is one of the easiest problems to solve. All you need to do is set your locks back to the unlock position. Make sure the top sash is pushed all the way up into the channel, this should align the bottom sash and the top sash. At this point, you need to also push your bottom sash down all the way and make sure it’s in. Once you do that your windows should lock just fine. But what if you haven’t purchased new windows in Houston and you’re dealing with the original windows? Well, that might be part of the problem.

Why Older Windows Fail To Lock

When we talk about older windows, we mean windows in Houston homes that are over 20 years old, made of wood, or made of cheap aluminum frames.

The problem with these windows aside from being hard to maintain or poor at insulation is that well—they’re old.

Although wood windows are very durable and good at insulating the home, they can warp over time with a lack of maintenance. Aluminum frames also tend to bend, especially the way Texas soil shifts and the house does with it. When the structural integrity of the window is compromised, all kinds of problems can occur.

Let’s take a look at some common issues with old wood and cheap aluminum windows in Houston that might cause the locks to fail.

Shifting Foundation

As we touched on above, a foundation, especially a slab, that shifts in the Texas soil, is a common culprit in window locks failing. When your house foundation shifts, your window frames are put under a lot of pressure. Wood can warp, aluminum can bend or break, and once distorted, a window frame will begin to malfunction.

The sash channels will fall out of alignment with the window which doesn’t allow it to fully open and close. Since the locking mechanisms are either sliding or rocking styles that require the alignment of both sashes, the windows can’t lock.

Sometimes, you can try and lift or push on the window just a little bit while trying to lock it and you might get lucky. The only way to fix the issue if the shifting persists; is to get foundation repair.

Warped Windows

Around your windows when new, is a seal of caulk that makes them waterproof and airtight. However, your frames become warped, especially wood. This is usually a result of poor maintenance, shifting foundation, or cheap wood.

Either way, when they warp the caulk seal cracks and lets moisture and air in through the frame. That moisture eventually builds up and causes the wood frame to bow with heat and moisture. Once that happens, there’s no way to effectively repair it.

You can do things to possibly slow the damage, but you have to face it—replacement windows in Houston are what you’ll need. This is because wood windows and even cheap aluminum windows put you at a disadvantage. Wood warps with exposure to moisture, aluminum can warp with shifting foundation or dents in the frame. Vinyl windows, on the other hand, aren’t affected by moisture, won’t rot, and won’t warp from the heat. They’re also incredibly tough against things like errant baseballs, and other impacts.


Low-quality window screens or debris such as branch pieces, leaves, or general crud in the window channel can cause problems. As debris accumulates in the window channel it can block the travel path. Additionally, old-school metal locks are vulnerable to moisture and can rust, any of that rust that gathers in the channel will cause problems.

Sometimes, you can just clean out the channels and then lubricate them with a can of spray furniture polish. It holds up surprisingly well and allows the windows to open and close much smoother. Simply lubricate the channel and keep opening and closing, lubricating in between, until they close properly.

Damaged Window Or Frame

When a window frame or the window itself receives extensive damage, often, it requires replacement. It’s best to leave the replacement of windows in Houston homes to the professionals.  They will be able to properly diagnose your situation and suggest the proper windows and features.

Are You Looking For New Windows In Houston?

Are you tired of your old and drafty windows? Do you get sick of dealing with painting old wood windows that keep warping? Maybe you bought a home with cheap contractor windows and can’t keep your house cool. Whatever your situation is, The Window Source of Houston can help you! Contact us for a free estimate for replacement windows in your home!

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