If one of the slats on your vertical blinds has stopped turning with the rest, you may need a new carrier stem and gear. The carrier stem is what holds the slat on the blind, and the gear turns the slat when you open and close the blinds. This is an easy repair to do yourself, but the method varies based on which carrier you're replacing.
The stem carriers on your vertical blinds are all the same except for one. This unique carrier, called the lead or master carrier, is the last one on your blind's headrail. This is the carrier furthest from the cord you pull to slide your blinds across the window. It gets its name from the fact that when you slide your vertical blinds open and closed, this carrier leads the others down the track. All of the other carriers on your headrail are standard carriers.
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Note that while the basics of changing carrier stems and gears always remain the same, the specifics can change slightly from one blind brand to another. Work carefully and take your time, making sure you observe the plastic clips and tabs holding your carriers and gears in place. Taking a second to examine them before you start working will make it easy to see how they work so you don't break them by pushing or pulling in the wrong direction.
How to Replace a Standard Carrier Stem and Gear
Replacing a standard carrier stem and gear is an easy DIY job that you can perform without taking down your blinds. These parts break frequently enough that finding replacements is easy too. To get replacement parts, simply remove the carrier stem and gear from your blind and take the parts to your local hardware store. It can help you find and purchase the right replacement parts, which are typically readily available right off the shelf.
- Rotate your blinds so the slats are in the open position. Remove the slat whose hardware you are replacing.
- Pop the carrier stem out of its holder. The stem is often seated in a "C"-shaped clip. To remove the carrier stem, pull it toward the open part of the "C." You can use a small screwdriver to help you if necessary. Your blinds may use a slightly different clip to hold the stem carrier in place, but the setup should be similar.
- Pull the carrier stem gear straight down and out of the carrier with a pair of needle-nose pliers.
- Place the new carrier stem gear into the carrier. With the gears facing up, push the gear into position with your fingers or your pliers. The gear should easily snap into place.
- Install the new carrier stem by pushing it into the "C"-shaped clip. Make sure it faces the same direction as the other carrier stems.
- Rehang the blind slat and test your repair.
How to Change a Lead Carrier Stem and Gear
Changing the lead carrier stem and gear gets a bit more complicated. For this repair, you will need to remove the blinds from the window so you can take the headrail apart. The repair itself isn't hard, but you will need to be mindful of the chains and cords that run through the headrail so you don't damage or twist them while you work.
- Remove the slats from the blind and pull the cord to open the blind. This will bunch all of the carrier stems together.
- Remove the headrail from the window.
- Take the cover off the idle end of the headrail. This may be attached via clips, or you can simply twist it off. Work carefully so you don't break any plastic parts.
- Push on the end of the carrier rail to slide it out of the headrail. This may require removing some screws. You only need to slide the rail out far enough to have access to the lead carrier.
- With the lead carrier free of the headrail, pop or twist the lead carrier stem out of its clip. On some blinds, the lead carrier will twist out, while others may need a push to the left or right. The specifics of each blind are different.
- Remove the now exposed gear under the carrier stem.
- Place the new gear in place, orienting it in the same direction as the other carrier stem gears. Needle-nose pliers can help if it's hard to hang on to the gear. Push the new lead carrier stem in place above the gear.
- Slide the carrier rail back into the headrail carefully, making sure you're not pinching or twisting the cords that control the blind. Screw the carrier rail back into place if you had to unscrew it to remove it.
- Reinstall the end cap on your headrail.
- Hang the headrail back in the window and reinstall the blind slats.