I need help retrieving a vertical blind
November 28, 2009 5:26 PM   Subscribe

A vertical blind slat has blown out of the window and landed on a roof below. Any ideas on retrieving it?

The blind weighs 93g (3.3oz), is approx. 4.5 metres (15 ft) below the window [pic 1] and is lying in a sem-folded shape [pic 2].
I don't have access to a ladder nor do I own a fishing rod. I've tried clumping a whole bunch of tape to the heavy end of an extension cord and dropping it on the blind but it didn't stick.
Any ideas on manufacturing a retrieval device from household objects?
posted by tellurian to Grab Bag (34 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Can you tie the end of the extension cord into a knot around the hook of a coat hanger, lower the hanger down to the blind slat, and try to slip the hanger around the blind which you would then pull up?
posted by katillathehun at 5:34 PM on November 28, 2009

Here's what I would do. Go to the store and get some contact cement. Wrap the end of your extension cord with fabric or an old sock. Put a large dose of contact cement on the fabric covering and lower it down to the slat, letting the contact cement rest against the slat. Now here's the important part. Let it rest against the slat for about ten minutes. You should then be able to pull it up, peel it off and unwrap the fabric from the cord. That contact cement will have ruined the fabric, so just throw it away. It won't have ruined the slat, because it will have just been in contact with the surface.

Good luck!
posted by Old Geezer at 5:41 PM on November 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

I sit around the house hoping for problems like this one.

I second the coat-hanger solution, but as it appears to be a fabric slat, I would add an uncoiled paper clip or pin to the end in the hopes of catching the fabric.
posted by etc. at 6:01 PM on November 28, 2009

I like your tape idea, but perhaps consider tweaking it with (1)clothesline or a multifold strand of twine instead of an extension cord (just altogether more maneuverable), (2) a weight at the end of the line-- something moderately heavy like a thick paperback book, to press the tape onto the slat, and (3) a heavier-duty tape-- something like duct tape, carpet-securing tape, 3M wall mounts, or the sticky glue side of industrial-strength Velcro. None of these should harm the slat surface if you're quick to peel off the tape after retrieval.

Also, if you can make a flat pad of tape (possibly by wrapping it around and around the book), then there will be more surface area available to contact and stick to the slat than if you'd rolled the tape into a ball.
posted by Bardolph at 6:05 PM on November 28, 2009

I would use a string with a weight on the end - maybe full can of peas or something like that and then put a piece of duct tape on the bottom sticky side out. Lower the sticky weight onto the slat and viola!
posted by The Light Fantastic at 6:11 PM on November 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

oops - or what Bardolph said...
posted by The Light Fantastic at 6:36 PM on November 28, 2009

(Yes, but The Light Fantastic's can-weight suggestion is waaay better than my book idea :) )
posted by Bardolph at 6:41 PM on November 28, 2009

Like Katilla says, except fold up the coat hanger into a straightened, flat hook that you can slide under the fold .
posted by bonobothegreat at 7:07 PM on November 28, 2009

Only 15 ft? I think your best bet is to have a friend or neighbor come over and belay you while you climb down there and back up with the assistance of the extension cord. If the friend could bring a climbing rope (or even 50' of nylon boat mooring-type rope from Ace Hardware or Home Depot) and a couple of 'biners that would be even better.
posted by ctmf at 7:18 PM on November 28, 2009

Use a long stick to flick slat off that roof down to ground. Run down to retrieve before dog steals slat.


Lower a vacuum cleaner, switched on, with flexible hose taped to side - suck up slat, pull up vacuum.


Throw all the other slats down on roof, take photo and claim cost of new blind from insurance company. Ask admins to delete this question.
posted by Xhris at 7:21 PM on November 28, 2009

Does the blind slat have any metallic/magnetic elements? If so, you could lower a powerful magnet on some rope to retrieve the slat.
posted by Andy's Gross Wart at 7:26 PM on November 28, 2009

Flypaper instead of tape?
posted by PercussivePaul at 7:30 PM on November 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

Yeah, the weights on vertical blinds are invariably magnetic. Magnet on a string to the rescue.
posted by rhizome at 7:32 PM on November 28, 2009

Does the blind slat have any metallic/magnetic elements?
No, it's a plastic counterweight. I don't have any powerful magnets around the house anyway.
I'm going to try the coathanger. I've made the hook and laid out another slat in the approximate same position (this was another one that flew out the window at the same time but fell in the street and got run over - you can see the tire tracks on it) and I've had a few practices and it seems to work.
posted by tellurian at 8:02 PM on November 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

Damn! Almost got it. The wind makes it swing around a lot. The bad news is that it's lying flat now. I'll have to change the hook to slide into the groove of the corrugated roof.
posted by tellurian at 9:15 PM on November 28, 2009

See now. That's why I'm saying something sharp to snag it on the end.

This is good stuff. Please continue to film any failures.
posted by etc. at 9:48 PM on November 28, 2009

As Old Geezer recommended, use glue. Two-part epoxy, RTV silicone, JB Weld, anything that can be gooped all over a weight on the end of a string and lowered onto one end of the slat. Leave it overnight, retrieve in the morning.
posted by contraption at 9:51 PM on November 28, 2009

Okay, just had another go with a hook fastened but the hook didn't actually make any difference (the fabric is quite tough and there was no interaction). Got it up about three quarters of the way again and a gust of wind tore it off (sorry, no video - my partner doesn't have the same level of enthusiasm for the project). The wind has really picked up here and I think further attempts are doomed to failure. I'll try again tomorrow.
The bad news is that it landed over on the next roof and has a strut over the top of it [pic 3].
I might try some reversed duct tape at the apex of the hook. If you have any thoughts on how I may make its stickability (without it impeding the slide on to the hook) more efficient, let me know.
Apologies to the contact cementer/glue people. I don't have any in the house.
posted by tellurian at 12:20 AM on November 29, 2009

I'm going to start cooking dinner now but I thought I'd just try out another suggestion made by Xhris. I have an Electrolux Dust Buster and I experimented with the aforementioned second slat on the verandah. It doesn't hold onto the slat more than a metre after picking it up. I think that's because of the little wheels they have built into the head.
posted by tellurian at 12:40 AM on November 29, 2009

Slight derail. I'm making spinach malfatta and I don't have a steamer. Does anybody have any suggestions for fashioning a steamer from common household objects?
posted by tellurian at 12:51 AM on November 29, 2009

making a steamer out of an existing pot:

1. Raise the food using a rack or any pedestal-like object tall enough to elevate it above water level. Examples: Set a plate or a roasting rack over a small empty can (with ends cut out; a tuna can works well) a heatproof trivet, or a canning jar lid. Or use a metal colander if it fits in the pot.

2. Steam the food on a heatproof plate to catch the juices; or it can rest on a rack, or a lettuce leaf, or a cornhusk, or a piece of foil, or parchment paper, a pie pan, or a tart pan. (Just make sure there’s enough room for the steam to circulate.)

3. If your pot doesn’t have a proper lid, cover it with a plate or a heavy baking sheet; if necessary, set a weight on top (like a can or kettle of water) to hold it in place.

posted by taz at 1:01 AM on November 29, 2009

Thanks taz, I'm going for 2 on parchment paper in a colander.
posted by tellurian at 1:21 AM on November 29, 2009

That worked out okay vis-à-vis the steaming, thanks taz.
In light of the strut obstruction and that it's too dark too retrieve the slat now I'm leaning towards the vacuum method tomorrow.
Lowering my regular full-strength vacuum cleaner down with the hose taped in a fixed position and sucking on it. I'll have to make sure that the extension cord and the power cord to the vacuum cleaner don't separate and then manage the hose head in the wind, but that's doable. The more I think about it the more I like it. I'll be cleaning up the roof in the meantime too.
posted by tellurian at 2:03 AM on November 29, 2009

document! We need to see how the blind defenestration caper turns out!
posted by taz at 3:20 AM on November 29, 2009

I just came up with another idea for retrieving the slat using common household items: First, you'll need a heavy weight of some sort, an extension cord, a steamer and...what?...oh. Never mind.
posted by etc. at 7:18 AM on November 29, 2009

I still think you should use a weight on the end of some string/rope and duct tape. 15 feet is a long way to try and keep something balanced on a hook.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 7:36 AM on November 29, 2009

1) Lower a basket or bucket onto the roof. If you don't have a basket or bucket, you could make one out of a cardboard box and a coat hanger.

2) Use the chord and hook to lift/drag the blind into the basket.

3) Retrieve the basket with the blind inside.

I love this. It's like a text adventure game.
posted by paulg at 11:17 AM on November 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

You see no basket here!
posted by ctmf at 11:45 AM on November 29, 2009

> take newspaper
You pick up yesterday's newspaper from the counter.
> take duct tape
You find a roll of duct tape in the junk drawer.
> make basket
You fashion a crude basket from the newspaper and tape, using bits of wire coathanger for rigidity.
> _
posted by contraption at 12:34 PM on November 29, 2009

a basket or bucket
That's a great idea, I'll try it tonight when I get home.
posted by tellurian at 3:45 PM on November 29, 2009

If Tellurian gets eaten by a grue, I'm going to feel bad for enjoying this thread.

Actually, what this reminds me of is a lite version of the monthly "Makeshift" feature from Make magazine. One I actually have a prayer of coming up with a reasonable solution to.
posted by etc. at 7:46 PM on November 29, 2009

When I got home this evening the wind had blown the slat to the edge of the roof and it was partly hanging down. Although I wasn't able to reach it, a passing (very tall, Somalian) gentleman came to my aid and got it down.
Thanks to you all for your help.
Ticks for katillathehun and paulg, because although I never got to try the combination, I'm pretty sure it would have worked. No doubt it'll happen again at some stage anyway and I'll be ready.
posted by tellurian at 1:34 AM on November 30, 2009

Wait, you had a very tall Somalian gentleman?

"Well, why didn't you list that among our assets in the first place?"
posted by etc. at 4:28 AM on November 30, 2009

Heh! Doesn't every household have one?
posted by tellurian at 1:29 PM on November 30, 2009

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