Most of today’s double hung windows tilt out for easy cleaning and maintenance. The tilt latches on many of these designs can be easily broken. Most of them are made of plastic and can become damaged with an over-zealous homeowner who aggressively pries on the tilt latches. Some higher-end windows have metal tilt latches which are far more durable than their plastic counterparts.
Types of Tilt Latches
There are three fairly common types of tilt latches, Surface Mount Latches, Slide-In Latches, and Internal Mounts. You will need to take a close look at your windows to determine which design is incorporated into your windows before ordering replacement parts. You also need to know the manufacturer of the original windows to ensure that the latches fit correctly. If you are unable to determine the manufacturer you will need to remove one of the latches and take precise measurements and/or take the latch to your local window repair shop for comparison.
Surface Mount Tilt Latches: These are perhaps the most common of all tilt latches and certainly the easiest to replace. This type of latch is mounted on top of the lower sash. In some cases, it sits on top of the wood, in other designs the wood is notched and the latch sits down in the recess for a more refined finish. To replace this type of latch simply remove the one or two screws that are holding it in place and gently pry upward on the latch. Install the new latch using the new screws that come with the replacement kit. Be careful not to overtighten the screws.
Slide in Tilt Latches: Just like the name implies, a slide in latch slips into a dovetail groove in the top of the lower sash. In this case you will need to activate the latches so you can tilt the sash inward to gain access to the latches. With the top or the lower sash exposed, gently tap the Tilt Latches out of the groove. Make sure the groove is completely clear of all debris, and tap the new latch into place.
Internal Tilt Latches: These are more common in vinyl windows. This type of latch is similar to the Slide-In Latch, however in lieu of a dovetail groove, the latch slides into a deep pocket or deep square hole in the top portion of the lower sash. The only thing visible on the top of the sash is the trigger of the slider itself. To remove an internal tilt latch you need to tilt the lower sash inward, then remove the single screw on the outer edge of the sash. Then gently remove the top cross member of the lower sash to expose the latch. Insert the new latch, reposition the top bar of the lower sash, and replace the screws.