Window Shade Repair

Window shades cover millions of windows — except when the shades are broken. This Fix-It Guide on window shade repair tells how a window shade works, what often goes wrong, how to identify a window shade problem, and what parts and tools you will need to fix it. It then gives instructions for how to loosen or tighten spring tension, how to adjust an uncoiled spring, how to release a spring that is locked in the coil, how to make the ratchet lock, and how to replace shade fabric.

How Does a Window Shade Work?

window shade Window Shade Repair

Components of a typical window shade mechanism.

A window shade is a flexible covering attached to a roller mounted at the top of a window, designed to regulate the light or view. A window shade uses a hollow roller with a coiled spring inside. Pulling down on the shade puts more tension on the spring. Once you stop pulling, a ratchet and flat pin at one end of the roller holds the tension until you release it. The other end of the roller has a round stationary pin that turns freely in its bracket.

Fix-It Tip

When purchasing a new window shade, look for one that is made to last and won’t require frequent service.

What Can Go Wrong with a Window Shade?

Window shades are relatively simple in operation and easy to fix. The tension on the roller may be too loose or too tight. The shade may not stay down. The shade may be stuck all the way up or down. The shade may fall out of the bracket. The shade cloth may tear.

How Can I Identify a Window Shade Problem?

  • If the shade goes up too quickly or with a bang, the tension on the spring may be too tight (see below).
  • If the shade rolls up too slowly, the spring may be too loose (see below).
  • If the shade won’t raise, you may need to adjust a fully uncoiled spring (see below).
  • If the shade won’t pull down, the spring may be locked in the coil (see below).
  • If the shade doesn’t stay down, the ratchet may not be locking (see below).
  • If the shade falls off the brackets, reposition the mounting brackets closer together.
  • If a shade tears, you can replace the cloth (see below) or patch it with a piece of clear tape.

What Do I Need for Window Shade Repair?

Replacement parts are available from larger hardware stores and home centers as well as window treatment retailers. You also can buy replacement parts from the manufacturer and aftermarket suppliers. The tools you will need to fix a window shade include these:

  • Screwdrivers
  • Pliers
  • T-square
  • Scissors
  • Staple gun
  • Brush or canned air
  • Penetrating oil

What Are the Steps to Window Shade Repair?

Loosen window shade spring tension:

  1. Roll up the shade and lift the roller out of the brackets.
  2. Unroll the shade halfway by hand. Replace the roller in the brackets.
  3. Repeat if necessary until the tension seems correct.

Tighten window shade spring tension:

  1. Pull the shade down halfway. Lift the roller out of the brackets.
  2. Roll up the shade by hand. Replace the roller in the brackets.
  3. Repeat if necessary until the tension seems correct.

Adjust a fully uncoiled window shade spring:

  1. Remove the roller from the brackets.
  2. Unroll the shade halfway. Use pliers to turn the flat pin until you feel tension, then back off so the pawl (latch that allows movement in only one direction) hooks onto the ratchet.
  3. Loosen or tighten spring tension as necessary using the directions above.

Release a window shade spring that is locked in the coil:

  1. Remove the roller from the brackets.
  2. Use pliers to grip the pin and twist it clockwise to free the pawl. Release it quickly to unwind the coil.
  3. Loosen or tighten the spring tension as necessary using the directions above.

Make a window shade ratchet lock:

  1. Remove the roller from the brackets.
  2. Remove the metal end cap.
  3. Use a brush or canned air to remove dust from the pawl and ratchet. Lubricate these parts with penetrating oil.

Replace roll-up window shade fabric:

  1. Remove the shade from its brackets and unroll it.
  2. Remove the old fabric.
  3. Use a T-square to align the fabric on the roller.
  4. Staple or tape the new fabric to the roller.
  5. Loosen or tighten the spring tension as necessary using the directions above.
  6. Replace the shade in its brackets.

Fix-It Tip

If you can’t fix a window shade and need to replace it, remove any reusable parts for future repairs.

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