How to Adjust Roller Shades, buyriteshades

Things You'll Need

  • Pliers
  • Duct tape
  • Stapler (optional)

If you have roller shades in your home, then you've probably had them fall on your head once or twice. Or maybe your shades don't retract when you tug on them. Perhaps they retract too quickly, snapping your fingers in the bargain. It could be that your roller shades have torn away from the dowel and are ripped and uneven. Let's face it, roller shades can be a pain, but only if they're not adjusted properly. Once you adjust them, however, you can restore both ambience and privacy.

Adjust the spring tension on a shade that retracts quickly and is hard to pull down. Roll the shade up and remove it from the window brackets. By hand, unroll the shade about halfway and put it back in the brackets. Test the shade to see if it's any looser and, if not, take it down and try it again. It may take a few tries before the spring loosens.

Tighten the tension on a shade that keeps coming down on its own. Here, the spring is too loose and you'll need to roll the shade all the way up by hand after removing it from the brackets. Make sure it's tightly and evenly rolled before retuning it to the brackets, and then try to pull it halfway down. Repeat if necessary.

Adjust an uncoiled spring if the roller shade continues to be loose. The shade is controlled by a mechanism known as a pawl-and-ratchet, which is a latch system that allows the shade to move in one direction only. The pawl is the small metal piece that hooks around the flat pin, while the ratchet is the round metal piece around the pin and pawl. When the spring is uncoiled, the ratchet doesn't work correctly.

Use pliers to adjust the spring. Remove the shade from the brackets and roll it halfway down. Locate the end with the flat pin and grasp it with the pliers. Turn the pin (usually clockwise) until there's tension. Stop turning and you should feel the pawl hook onto the ratchet. Put the shade back up and adjust the tension as described in Steps 1 and 2.

Use duct tape to reattach the shade fabric if it's slightly detached from the roller. Take the shade down from the window and unroll it all the way. Place the torn edge back in place, making sure there are no wrinkles and the detached fabric is lined up with the rest of the shade. Use a small piece of tape to connect the edge of the fabric to the roller.

Replace the shade fabric if it's too torn to replace. Take the old shade off and use a straightedge to align the new shade on the roller. Use a stapler or tape to attach the shade and adjust the tension as necessary.


  • You can adjust a locked spring the same way you would tighten an uncoiled spring. The difference lies in letting go of the flat pin quickly once the pawl is freed from the ratchet.