THE SAGE: Chain on Roll Up Shade



My problem is with a roll up shade over one of the glass patio doors in the house we bought. It was left by the owner and I like it, but the chain keeps slipping. I can put the shade down without much trouble. But I need twice the time to put it up because it slips every foot or so. The only way I can get it to go up more is to pull down on both sides of the chain with just a little extra tug on the part that part that goes up. I hope you know what I mean. It’s a little hard to describe. Can this be fixed and what is involved? Thanks in advance.

sageavatar2THE SAGE

This has the earmarks of a worn out clutch. As you pull down, the beaded chain passes over a correspondingly scalloped wheel inside the control end. It’s a sprocket, of sorts. After a time, one or more of the scallops can become worn down. Usually due to excessive or improper use.

The only fix is a replacement clutch. Which is not all that expensive, in itself. The main cost comes in the form of service charges. Depending on circumstances, you may be billed for an initial visit to determine the exact part needed. Then, a service call is billed to return and swap the bad one out, after a new one has been ordered and received from the manufacturer. Total costs may range from $85 to $180.

Thank you for your submission.

NOTE: ADVANCED ON-SITE‘s specialty is drapery and shade cleaning, though we offer a range of other services, related to window coverings. Contact us to discuss your needs.

Job Photo – 10/28/15

Requested Service: Cleaning

The sheer panels pictured were peppered with regularly spaced dragonfly appliques, approximately one inch square. As the material was synthetic, these panels could have been placed in a washing machine with no danger of shrinkage. However, with the possibility that the appearance of even one applique could be altered during the agitation process, there’s no point in risking it. Our exclusive ON-SITE process is safe and effective. NO shrinkage or Damage, GUARANTEED!

ADVANCED ON-SITE‘s specialty is drapery and shade cleaning, though we offer a range of other services related to window coverings. Contact us to discuss your needs.

Enemy Sun

The Toll it Takes

Most of us are aware that the sun’s powerful rays can damage unprotected skin. We know its intense heat often transforms metal objects into firebrands. Less discussed, is its effect on fabrics.

Shown in the featured photo is a Silhouette® shading by Hunter Douglas, whose rear fabric layer has been ravaged by years of exposure. The shade was one of three, covering a guest bedroom window (inset).

Interestingly, the three were in varying stages of deterioration, with the one pictured suffering the worst of it. A small area of its bottom vane showed a mottled, slightly out of alignment appearance when viewed from the front. Otherwise, all three looked just fine at first glance. In fact, the owner had initially summoned us to clean them. She had no idea what bad shape they were in.

The Bearing Location Has

highrise condo
High-rise condos have associated elevation values

At this point a little background on the residence may be in order. An eighteenth floor penthouse condominium, situated on the Southeast corner of the building, it’s Eastern exposure receives as little as two hours of morning sunshine, daily, thanks to a large patio overhang. The Southern exposure gets almost no direct sun during the summer months. However, with no overhang, in winter the sun is on it all day looooooong. Welcome to the side of the building occupied by our opening with the wrecked shades.

Now, the openings facing East were also fitted with Hunter Douglas Silhouette® shadings. But they did not show anything approaching the same extreme damage. Likely, owing to two factors. They were newer by two years, and they never saw the sun at its most intense, for prolonged periods.

dilapidated barn
This barn appeared sound the day before it collapsed

SIDE NOTE: Given that this level of damage to window treatments is seen much more frequently in high-rise settings than at ground level, one is left to wonder what part elevation, however marginal, may play in intensifying the sun’s damaging rays.

As it is primarily a winter home, the residence is occupied only about 150 days a year. It’s understandable, then, that the progression of damage escaped the homeowner’s notice. Especially when you consider the fact that a dilapidated barn, for example, may appear to be structurally sound for years before deterioration accelerates as it nears the day when, inevitably, it falls down.

Plotting a Solution

Also understandable, the homeowner’s dismay at what a short life her now useless window shades had enjoyed. As well as her reluctance to replace them with the same type of product. But, what to go with, instead?

Manufacturers make no representation as to which of their fabric products fare better under extreme conditions. And perhaps wisely so, for there are many factors that can hasten sun damage. These include, but are not limited to, heat, humidity, dust, convection, and even the type of glass damaging rays pass through before actual contact with the fabric. The unofficial position is that, since there are so many possible combinations, and that they differ from opening to opening, such factors simply cannot be quantified.

That said, consensus seems to have it that non-woven fabrics, such as those used in honeycomb shades, have a greater life expectancy than woven fabrics, like those found in Silhouette®. However, they all utilize glue lines to hold their respective cells, louvers and vanes together and these are also known to break down with long term exposure to sunlight. In the final analysis, it seems the consumer must decide on his or her own which product to purchase. In this particular case, honeycomb shades were selected.

Nothing is Exempt

blown out drapery hem
Drapery side hem with area of compromised stitching

As discussed in our response to a visitor’s comment at the bottom of the Avoiding Damage to Vertical Blinds page, plastic components like carriers, carrier assemblies, and tensioners, dry out and become brittle with prolonged exposure to sun and heat.

The same condition befalls stitching in the pleats and side hems of drapery panels. Even when the recommended monofilament is used. Yes, that’s right. A “medium test” fishing line is the preferred thread for stitching drapes. All too often light duty monofilament, or even all purpose threads are used, and these degrade much quicker. Once the first stitch goes, the rest soon work their way lose until a hem or pleat is completely blown out.

The truth is, any material will eventually succumb to sun and heat. Still, due diligence pays off. To the extent possible, research the quality of any window fashion you wish to purchase. Have windows tinted. Layer treatments, so as to protect the most expensive of them with heavy duty underlying barriers like roller shades or plantation shutters. Also, if you’re the owner of a ground-level home, consider making use of shrubbery, awnings and anything else with the potential to shield windows from the sun.

ADVANCED ON-SITE‘s specialty is drapery and shade cleaning, though we offer a range of other services related to window coverings. Contact us to discuss your needs.

Job Photo – 10/18/15

Requested Service: Installation

These window coverings were installed in the public relations area of a local power generating facility. We say “these” because, in case you didn’t notice at first glance, there are two in the opening pictured. 

Management contacted us about concerns over glare caused by afternoon sunlight streaming through this opening, and an identical opening beyond the glass doors at left. In that other space is a control room where operators must be able to see clearly through portals in the opposite wall, while maneuvering a giant cantilever crane just outside. 

Motorized screen shades with remote control capability were requested. However at 202 inches, these openings are simply too wide to cover, using just one shade. This is because, with the mounting brackets stationed at each end, and no way of supporting the middle, maximum width limits must be imposed to avoid sagging.

Even when forced to place more than one shade in a single opening, you still want them to operate in sync. To accomplish this, a special coupling system is used in conjunction with a modified bracket.

The other challenge is to align the inevitable light gap between shades with an existing structural element. In this case a vertical mullion serves to, at least partially, block sunlight from streaming right through the gap.

Unfortunately, there’s not always an easy solution to every challenge. Were it not for the mullion, someone would have had to decide whether to tolerate the naked light gap, or go with an alternative product that might be less desirable.

ADVANCED ON-SITE‘s specialty is drapery and shade cleaning, though we offer a range of other services related to window coverings. Contact us to discuss your needs.


National Window Covering Safety Month

Increasing Awareness

The Window Covering Safety Council (WCSC) has designated October “National Window Covering Safety Month.” Every property owner is urged to check for exposed or dangling cords that could present a strangulation hazard.

Window Covering Safety Month
Cords like this present a strangulation hazard

In 2012 the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced that during the previous sixteen years as many as 1,590 children were treated for injuries occurring as a result of entanglement in control cords. A consumer group, Parents for Window Blind Safety (PFWBS), documented 285 deaths and serious injuries over the same period. Little wonder that these cords have been listed as one of the CPSC’s top five “hidden hazards” in the home.

The Window Covering Manufacturer’s Association (WCMA) was quick to point out that over 80% of those cases involved older products that did not conform to current standards. Many had been installed and/or used improperly.

Indeed, the industry has implemented constructive changes over the years. Cord cleats, breakaway in-line components, and tensioners have helped curb the risk. As well, warnings about the danger of strangulation are attached to virtually every product entering the market. Still, there can be no question that child safety is the foremost issue confronting manufacturers.

 Currently Available Alternatives

Several groups, including Parents for Window Blind Safety, have petitioned the CPSC to mandate cordless window coverings. Methods include hand operated wands, cordless lifting systems, and motorization. All are typically more expensive and have advantages, as well as disadvantages.

The “wand” appeared in the 1980s as a method for traversing freely hanging treatments like drapes and vertical blinds. Initially touted as a way to reduce stress on wall and ceiling mounted components, it soon became evident that the absence of control cords eliminated strangulation hazards. Wands have been widely panned by consumers, primarily because they are difficult to conceal.

So-called cordless lifting mechanisms began to arrive in the late 1990s as a means to eliminate cords on horizontal treatments, like honeycomb shades and roman shades. They’re typically spring loaded and prone to a shorter lift expectancy. Proprietary components often require factory repairs, which can be quite expensive when shipping fees are taken into account.

Motorization is probably the most desirable option. But, while easiest to operate, it is also the most costly. And uncertain as to long term viability, due to the technology’s continually evolving nature. In order to incorporate new and improved designs, manufacturers end up re-tooling their motorized products every three to five years. This has the effect of rendering comprehensive lifetime warranties, prohibitive. Because honoring them would mean the continual manufacture of old parts from preceding generations. Some manufacturers offer to retrofit new technology. But, again, the associated cost can prompt one to question the advisability of this.

Be Aware of Implications

Through the use of kits and instructions made available on their website, the WCSC advocates modifying existing window coverings to make them safer. While these materials are offered out of genuine concern, we cannot recommend that you take such action. Especially on your own.

There’s a potential for inadvertent damage to the window covering itself. One of the modifications promoted by WCSC involves cutting control cords for the purpose of eliminating loops that might encircle a child’s throat. On the face it seems like a simple matter, especially with a lofty goal like child safety in mind. However, unless you’re a professional it can be all too easy to misunderstand just how this may affect the product’s functionality.

As with any other home furnishing, window coverings are an important investment. When you’ve paid good money for a custom treatment, there’s a tendency to be very upset when it suddenly becomes an expensive piece of junk. Additionally, even if it continues to function properly, modifications void warranties. Aftermarket alterations are nearly always considered “damage” by manufacturers.

Surefire Solutions

window covering safety month
The fence surrounding this pool keeps children away from danger

Consider this: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the leading cause of death among American children 5 and under is drowning. The most common location? The family swimming pool, by far. To prevent such occurrences the CDC makes several recommendations, including enhanced supervision and safety fencing to block off the area. There is no mention of re-engineering the pool itself. Or, heaven forbid, eliminating the water!

This serves to illustrate how misguided it may be for us to expect window covering control cords to completely disappear from our homes. They exist. It is therefore incumbent on all of us to keep children away from them. Just as they must be kept away from hot surfaces, electrical outlets, top-heavy furniture, items that should not be swallowed…and the list goes on. Parenting is very much like an extreme sport. Continual focus, and an ability to react instantly are prerequisites.



If you wish to reduce the challenge your existing window treatments pose to child safety, please be sure to enlist the services of a professional. ADVANCED ON-SITE is qualified to execute such modifications.

Call us to help you formulate a plan: 561-644-4091


Job Photo – 10/06/15

Requested Service: Cleaning

This, friends, is perhaps the most unique window covering we’ve ever seen. And we’re in the business!

Its hardware, carriers and control cords are virtually identical to those of any other vertical blind system (left photo). But that’s where the similarity ends.

Where other systems are intended to suspend the familiar PVC vanes from their carriers, or less rigid fabric vanes with weights sewn into their bases, these suspend something quite different – braided nylon strands.

Hanging freely, they form groups that can either “puddle” on the sill’s surface, or cascade over its edge (right photo). While this is an interesting effect, it comes at the expense of privacy. As the photo clearly shows, this is not the type of covering one would commission for a bedroom window.

A certain homeowner at St. Andrews Country Club, Boca Raton inherited these when he bought the existing residence. Most likely European made, they had been installed in several openings overlooking a very large back patio.

Somehow, rust-like deposits had formed along the bottom, while the home sat empty for several months in foreclosure. The gentleman was given our contact info by a Boca window coverings firm and, following an afternoon cleaning session, we left him with a song in his heart.

ADVANCED ON-SITE‘s specialty is drapery and shade cleaning, though we offer a range of other services related to window coverings. Contact us to discuss your needs.



Removing Stains from Household Fabrics

Oh No! That Stain’s Gotta Go!

Your grandson marks up the upholstery of a beloved chair with crayons. The family dog returns from a scrap with your neighbor’s cat and spatters blood all over a white, sheer drape as he shakes himself in front of it. You’re confounded by the appearance of mildew on a fabric window shade, with no apparent source of moisture nearby.

These are all actual scenarios described to ADVANCED ON-SITE by individuals seeking removal of notoriously difficult substances. Truthfully, while all WERE removed, and the overall success rate exceeds 95%, elimination of all traces of a substance can never be guaranteed. Primarily because there’s no way to know for certain that previous attempts to remove it have not already been made.

First, Stop and Think About the Risk

Consider the fact that a stain can be permanently “set” if the wrong method is used to remove it.

Any substance with the potential to gain a foothold in textile is going to have a protein, oil, or tannin base. Some substances actually contain elements of more than one base. In such cases the correct spotting agents must be applied in a very specific sequence, often repeating each more than once, before moving to the next. These sensitive operations are best left to a professional.

Even then, certain factors reduce how aggressively a stain can be attacked. Including fabric type and weave. More on that in a minute.

Mechanical Action

Rarely does a stain just dissolve away with the simple application of a spotting agent. Anyone who does their own laundry knows, more often than not mechanical action is necessary.

While the agitation that occurs in a washing machine is a form of mechanical action, it is less effective than other, more direct means. For example, washboards used from colonial times right up, and into, the 20th Century. Then there’s the ancient method of beating clothes on rocks. On the other hand, a simple fingernail can sometimes coax particulates from the fibers of a garment, or other household fabric.

Scrubbing a stained area against a non-stained area of the material is also effective. Commonly available stain removing formulas are usually applied, allowed to “dwell,” then reapplied for this purpose. The key is knowing how much mechanical action can be brought to bear before the material sustains damage. Too much, and “abrading” will occur.

Inherent Dangers

Abrading is something we’ve all seen. Think of a rope rubbing against a rock or a tree. The first sign of damage will be a fraying appearance at the point of contact, indicating that small fibers have been severed and lifted from the main body.

Natural fibers are quicker to abrade than synthetics. But, all will eventually show signs of wear. Even before abrading occurs, the trajectory of individual threads can be disrupted in coarse or loosely woven fabrics, thereby making them appear twisted and uneven.

The Safe Solution

By now you’ve likely concluded that stain removal can be a tricky business. And you’d be right. In addition to everything else, when a stain is treated without, first, cleaning the entire chair, drape or shade, it ends up looking like just that – a stain treatment. In other words, it appears obvious that you’ve cleaned the stain and the area around it, while the rest of the item retains dust and other pollutants that have accumulated over time.

When a stain must be removed from an expensive window treatment, what you need is a company that guarantees against damage. ADVANCED ON-SITE is that company.


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