What is this device next to my window?
January 6, 2010 9:54 AM   Subscribe

Can you identify this mystery device in my new apartment?

In the spare bedroom of my new apartment, next to the window, is a device which I have never seen before. It doesn't seem to do anything anymore--the building was built in 1961, so who knows how old this thing is--but I'm curious about it. Has anyone seen one of these before?

the whole assembly
close-up of foot pedal (?)
behind the pedal
outside the window

The runners along the side of the window are guiding two thin steel cables, like the brake lines on a bicycle. I can't get into the box at the bottom (it's screwed/painted shut pretty securely) but the thing sticking out of its bottom seems to be a foot pedal. The pedal is spring-loaded; when you press it, the cables are pulled down by about a quarter inch, but nothing else seems to happen anywhere nearby.

I'm not sure whether the cables disappear into the wall at the top of the runners, or if they're cut short somewhere before that point. (Haven't brought over anything to stand on yet!) Outside the window is just a set of bars. The other windows have bars as well, but no mystery device.

Any ideas? Maybe some kind of release for a window that's since been replaced?
posted by equalpants to Home & Garden (8 answers total)
electric shades?
posted by ian1977 at 9:58 AM on January 6, 2010

Emergency release for a previous window or security bars, so that one might escape through the window in case of a fire?
posted by K.P. at 9:59 AM on January 6, 2010 [2 favorites]

I'm 99% sure that K.P. is correct and that it's the emergency release for the bars on the outside of the window.
posted by kitty teeth at 10:09 AM on January 6, 2010

Hmm, now that I search for "emergency release", yeah, that's obviously it. I guess I ought to have known that (never lived on the ground floor before!). Better see about getting it working, too...

posted by equalpants at 10:12 AM on January 6, 2010

I love these kinds of problems, where it's blindingly obvious *once you know what the search terms are.*
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:27 AM on January 6, 2010

if "emergency release" is the right answer, you may want to check that a) it actually works, and b) the bars are still secure after you've been playing with it.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 11:50 AM on January 6, 2010

I'd like to be sure a) I knew how to use it, and b) that it actually worked. So get a chair and wiggle the bars and see if they're loose already or if that changes when you kick the pedal. If they would fall off from playing with it they probably would have already. I'd also be sure of what I kept under that window outside in the event of an escape being necessary.
posted by dhartung at 2:01 PM on January 6, 2010

These are required by law in some areas. But, AFAIK, only on bars in bedrooms.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 5:16 PM on January 6, 2010

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