How to Fix a Broken Window Shade

Repairing a broken window shade can be one of those fixes that brings much satisfaction after you’re successful. Let’s take a look at some common roll-up window shade problems and how to fix them.

First, let’s understand for a second just how these now classic roll-up shades work:

A roll-up window shade has a hollow roller with a coiled spring on the inside. Pulling down the shade places tension on the spring.

The nifty part is that a ratchet and a flat pin at one end hold the tension you’ve created (from the pull) until you let go.

A stationary pin on the opposite end turns freely in its bracket as the shade unwinds or recoils.

Sometimes though, these parts don’t work together well or need individual adjustment in order for the drawing and opening of the shade to work properly and smoothly.

Fixes for Common Problems with Window Shades

Window Shade Goes up Too Quickly (And Violently!)

If you give your shade a jerk to raise it up, only to have it suddenly roll up (forcefully), it is almost certain to startle you.

All this means is the that there is too much tension on the spring inside the core of your window shade roller.

You can reduce the tension of the spring simply by removing the entire shade and unroll the shade material several inches.

With the shade out the length that you’ve just pulled, place it back in it’s brackets and give it a try.

Window Shade Goes up Too Slowly

This is the opposite problem as above.

If you find yourself having to tug on the shade several times to get it to roll back up, then the spring just doesn’t have enough tension.

You’ll probably notice that the shade cloth is not very tightly wound on the roller.

The solution then is to remove the shade, find a flat surface and reroll the shade back on it’s roller. The goal is to make it tighter than before of course.

Window Shade Won’t Catch

If your shade isn’t catching, inspect both brackets.

The key here is to look closely to ensure they are not worn or bent in any way. The ratchet part of the mechanism could also not be holding any more.

If you can, straighten out the brackets accordingly. If that doesn’t work and you suspect a faulty ratchet, then it’s time to replace the roller itself.

Window Shade Binds

A binding window shade is usually due to there not being enough clearance between the edge of the shade cloth and the brackets as it rolls and unrolls.

Don’t force anything when this happens as you could damage the shade material beyond repair.

You don’t have to cut any material for the fix.

Simply, bend the brackets with a pliers outward to increase space or see if you can adjust the length of the stationary pin (the pin usually on the right side that does NOT turn as you pull on the shade).

Window Shade Falls or Stays Down

Obviously the opposite symptom of the previous issue.

What’s going on here is that the brackets are too far apart, giving too much clearance around the shade.

It could also indicate that the spring inside is broken.

Try bending brackets (only slightly). If that doesn’t work, mount the brackets closer together (yes, you’ll have to make new holes!).

If you suspect the spring, then replace the roller, which will come with a new spring.

How to Replace Window Shade Cloth

If you bring down an old shade and unroll it, you’ll see that the shade material is simply stapled to the roller (usually made of wood).

Gently pull off the old material by ripping or pulling out the staples. Then, squaring off the edge of the new material, carefully align that edge with the guideline that is pre-marked on the roller itself.

When in place, restaple securely. Material can be cut with a scissors, or for a cleaner job, use a utility knife.

See the next section if you need help measuring and cutting new shade material for your windows.

Measuring and Cutting New Shades

This task is easier than you might think, and certainly easier than replacing window screens!

For inside mounting, measure from jamb to jamb at the bottom, middle and top of the window.

Take the smallest measured distance and subtract 1/8″ so you’ll have ample clearance.

For outside mounting, you can measure more roughly and actually cut to the dimensions you prefer (i.e., the wider, the less light that may sneak around shade edges).

For the height, add 8 to 12 inches. Saw your roller to the width you measured, tap on the stationary pin, then cut your material to size and affix it to the roller (described in previous section).

Whatever issue you have and fix you need for your broken window shade you’re sure to give your ol’ trusty window and light blocker some added life. 

If it’s time for your shade to go, at least find some solace in that replacement costs for these types of shades is one of the least expensive.