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What To Do If a Crank Handle is Broken

What To Do If a Crank Handle is Broken

Exterior renovationsWhat To Do If a Crank Handle is Broken

Who doesn’t love a cool summer breeze on a sizzling summer day? Being able to open and close your windows freely is one of the perks of having them. But of course, the mechanisms for opening and closing windows break occasionally. Window cranks, also known as casement operators, have a spline that slowly wears down from continued use and over time, and will need to be repaired or replaced.

But how can the novice homeowner go about doing this? Of course, this job is easier than you might think! Luckily, you won’t have to replace the entire window but just the crank itself. If your crank has worn out or the handle is slipping, then read on and we’ll give you some suggestions about how to deal with this problem. 

Here's what to do if you're left with a broken crank handle!

Remove and inspect the old crank

empty crank

source: Flickr

The first step to repairing your broken crank is to remove the old one. Start this job by removing the screw that attaches the base of the handle to the window, and this can be done with a screwdriver. Once the screw is removed, you should pull the handle from the crank stud and inspect the spline beneath the handle, as well as the teeth inside of the handle.

If the teeth are worn out or missing, you will only need to replace the handle rather than replacing the entire crank and these can be found at your local hardware store. However, if you find that the spline is missing or worn out, you will have to replace the entire crank.

Get the new crank ready for installation

Of course, before installing a new window crank, it will be necessary to find one. Your local hardware store will likely have several models on hand, though it is recommended that you find a crank based on the manufacturing company of the original. Some experts recommend taking the broken crank to a replacement hardware specialist, as this will guarantee that you get a match back. Purchasing a replacement crank can sometimes be costly, but it will cost significantly less than replacing your entire window.

Install the replacement handle


source: WikimediaCommons

The replacement process may vary from crank to crank but should be straightforward. Start by disconnecting the crank arm from the guide track on the window. This can be done by opening the window until the crank arm guide bushing is aligned with the notch in the guide track.  In some cases, you may require locking pliers to complete this step. Once in place, press down the arm to free the bushing from the track, then push out the window until the bushing is clear out of the track.

Now, using a screwdriver, take out the trim screws and this should allow you to lift the casement cover off the window jamb. Remove all screws that keep the crank mounted, and once screws are removed, lift off the crank. Keep screws that are in good condition, but find replacements for any rusted or bent screws.

If you can’t find any screws, it is likely that the casement cover is nailed or stapled instead. If this is the case, you’ll need to slide a stiff putty knife in between the window jamb and casement cover. Make sure you complete this step carefully, to avoid damaging the wood window frame.

Next, close the window to prepare to install the new crank. This can be completed by lining up the new crank with the old holes. If the holes have been stripped, use toothpicks to fill in the extra spaces, and drive the screws in.

Follow this, you can simply reattach the crank arm as well as the casement cover, securing both with screws. Slide the bushing on the arm back into the window track, then place the handle over the crank stud, inserting the attachment screw and tightening it to secure the handle. 

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Last modified 2023-11-07

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