Warning: Dad Post
This content was originally going to be part of an email to some close friends and family, however, I have found many complaints about vertical PVC blinds clicking in the wind via internet searches but few solutions. I found even fewer solutions (zero, actually) that work when the blinds are closed.
So, this content is uncharacteristic for this blog but I decided to make it public in case other homeowners or renters that have inherited vertical PVC blinds might find it helpful.
Clickin’ in the wind
Our house has vertical blinds in a few of the bedrooms. Vertical blinds (these ones anyway) are made of long, decorated strips of PVC plastic. They function well (for the most part) to adjust how much sunlight comes into the room as well as blocking it out altogether.
Besides any style issues that I am oblivious to, my only major issue with them is that when we open the windows, the breeze will blow the PVC strips into one another and make a clattering noise.
It’s easy enough to open the blinds and pin them back to prevent the noise during the day. They even make special louver ties to use in this situation. If we want to let in the breeze on a cool summer night and don’t want the sun shining in on us when it rises, however, we need to have the blinds closed. So tying them back doesn’t help us here.
My “team” and I used some odds and ends from the garage to solve this problem. This blog post outlines our approach and implementation.
Minimum Viable Product
The idea here is to make a removable strip that will connect the bottoms of all of the PVC strips so that they won’t move independently and bounce off one another when the wind blows through them. You can pop the strip on when you need it and pop it off when you don’t.
Our solution is composed of some sticky-backed foam insulation I had left over from sealing our garbage can and some rare earth magnets that are, well, just awesome. Technically the magnets are left over from bolstering the worn-out springs that keep our oven door closed but I have used them multiple times since then.
Those two items are the only special ingredients, and you could probably substitute a strip of just about anything for the foam.
Here is the prototype I made to see if the solution would work:
And the key ingredients:
Self-adhesive foam insulation; also great for keeping odors from wafting out of a garage/outdoor garbage can (and for keeping flies from getting in)
Rare earth magnets – just awesome. Keep away from young children though; dangerous if swallowed
I started out by having a junior engineer pick out some paperclips to stick on the bottom of the blinds. Paperclips are nice because the rare earth magnets will stick to them, but they are also removable in case our boss decides to take the project in a different direction someday. Also they are colorful.
Here is the result of sticking on the paperclips. Nice choice – those colors are hardly noticeable ;).
Another benefit of using paperclips with rare earth magnets is that the blinds can still rotate as a group – you can actually leave the anti-click strip on when you rotate the blinds to let the sun in. It only needs to be removed if you pull them back completely.
Regardless, we then needed to measure the total length of the blind assembly (90 inches) and the distance between the center of each PVC blind (three inches). Here is the junior engineer demonstrating how to use the tape measure to our mascot.
We then got to the grunt work of sticking a rare earth magnet on the foam insulation every three inches. We also applied plastic food wrap over the rest of the adhesive on the foam to cover all the glue on the strip – this way the finished strip would only stick to the metal paperclips.
Finally we stuck the full insulation strip to the paper clips on the bottom of the blinds. It pops on and pops off pretty easily.
We’ll have to wait until summer to see if it works in production, but I did some stress testing by waving a big blanket at it and it held up pretty well – no more clicking in the wind.
Costs on this solution could probably be cut by using something other than foam insulation, or possibly using friction to hold most of the blinds in place while using a rare earth magnet for every third or fifth PVC connection.
Anyway, thanks for reading! If you found this while looking for a technical post, stay tuned – I’ll be back next time with content related to software security.