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DIY Day-Night Shade Repair

Originally Published in MotorHome Magazine

Adjusting the cord retainers, and even complete restringing can keep the perfectly good fabric in use for a long time in your motorhome.

During the last 20 years, day-night shades have become the top choice of window coverings in RVs. The ability to conveniently block unwanted light in the mornings and/or allow in a gentle light throughout the daytime while still blocking some of the heat from harsh sunlight has made day-night shades practical — and they add an element of décor. Unlike the old miniblinds that rattle and shake, day-night shades are lightweight and quiet while driving down the road.

The problem with day-night shades is that at some point they stop working properly, become disoriented and appear unsightly on the windows. The thin cords, which are the heart of the operating system, are usually the first to go. Depending on the brand and how frequently the particular shade is used, you may notice that the cords loosen up and need a bit of TLC to perform optimally. When they break, the shade is rendered useless. Replacing the shades is one option, but it could be difficult finding a close match to the texture and color of the ones used in your motorhome.

Repairing A window shade may seem like a daunting task but with a little know-how, day-night shades can easily be brought back to life.

The good news is that by simply replacing the strings, you can keep your existing fabric and save a lot of money when compared to replacing the entire shade.

Maintenance and repairs can be as simple as adjusting the bottom cord retainers or replacing the strings that make it possible to raise and lower the shade. Start by inspecting the shade carefully on the front and back sides. Look for frayed or broken strings and any plastic grommets that may have broken and caused the strings to fray, which will prevent the shade from moving up or down. If the shade simply won’t stay put in the up position, a simple adjustment of the cord retainer will likely solve the problem.

To adjust the cord retainers, gently loosen the screw on the right side retainer while holding it firmly to prevent unwinding. Turn the cord retainer one-half turn and tighten the screw. Repeat on the left side, but for this one, you’ll have to turn the cord retainer counterclockwise. Repeat the process until the shade stays in the proper position. Use caution to not overtighten the strings, as they will wear much more quickly if under increased tension for long periods of time. If the cord retainer comes loose and the string begins to unwind, simply rewind the string onto the cord retainer until snug, add one-half turn, and set the screw. Repeat this process until the shade stays in the proper position and performs as designed.

It is very common for the screw that holds the cord retainer in position to become stripped, thus allowing the string to unwind. An effective way to solve this dilemma is to use a larger screw, but this is not always an option because of the small hole in the center of the cord retainer.

It’s also very common for the cord retainers to be installed into a thin piece of wood paneling. A convenient way to fix this problem is to remove the cord retainer and install a self-drilling E-Z Ancor drywall anchor into the wall. These drywall anchors are available in many different lengths and may contact the outer wall if you use one that’s too long, so be sure to measure the wall depth before installing. Once the drywall anchor is in place it’s a simple matter of reinstalling the cord retainer into the anchor that is now flush with the wall. If the wood is solid behind the wall, use a plastic expansion anchor rather than an E-Z Ancor.

If the cords are broken, the repair involves restringing, which is much easier than most people imagine. Once you determine the diameter and the color of the string that needs replacing, log on to www.fixmyblinds.com for materials. This company has everything you need to repair any type of blind or shade, as well as the tools to assist with the string-replacement process. The website provides a wealth of instructional videos and a detailed diagram to assist in the entire restringing process. The end result will look as though you have a new day-night shade.

Tools required:

Cordless driver, Phillips or square drive bit and extension, wire restring tool, flat screwdriver, rubber bands, scissors, tape measure, shade string and possibly new plastic grommets.

The process starts by removing the valance above the window. This step can often be more difficult than restringing the shade itself because clearance to the brackets can often be restricted. After the valance is removed, the shade is dropped down all the way for full extension. It is important to measure the height as well as the width of the shade to determine the complete length of each string. Only two new strings are needed for most shades; some will need three or four. The string length will be 2.5 times the width plus the height; it’s best to add a few extra inches to each string to allow for any errors in calculations — it is easier to cut off excess string than start all over again.

Although this day-night cord replacement may seem complicated at first glance, rest assured that after completing just one new string replacement you will have the skill and the confidence to care for your day-night shades in the future. Figure on about 90 minutes to get the job done the first time, but the time to complete the process will get shorter with subsequent restringing projects. Here’s how the cord retainer repairs and restringing are done:

Bill and Jenn GehrMotorhome DIYmotorhome windows

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