Optimize your life – Home working, Ergonomics & Design

My Office Chair is Stuck in Recline – Get it Back Up!






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‍If you’ve been sitting in an office chair that refuses to adjust from its reclined position, you understand the frustration and discomfort that can arise. The inability of a chair to return to its upright posture not only disrupts your productivity but will also lead to physical discomfort over time.

This quick reference is designed to help you understand why your office chair might be stuck in recline and provide practical solutions to rectify the issue.

Note – from the outset we would advise you to refer to the manufacturers documentation as chair mechanisms can vary between makes and models.

Understanding the Issue

Before diving into the solutions, it is crucial to comprehend why an office chair might get stuck in the reclining position. The core reason behind this issue lies in the chair’s mechanism that controls its reclining function. A combination of springs, levers, and rods regulates the chair’s reclining capability. If any of these components malfunction, it can cause the chair to remain stuck in a reclined position.

Initial Diagnosis

Before you can start fixing your office chair, you need to identify what’s causing the problem. The first step involves checking if the chair reclines when you push the backrest. If it does with a strain, the issue lies within the chair. The problem could be due to high tension in the recline mechanism, which needs to be relaxed, or the chair could be locked in a particular position.


Common Causes

There are several reasons why your office chair might be stuck in a recline.

Some of the most common ones include:

  1. Improper Technique: Often, users do not apply the correct method to release the recline lock. This can result in the chair getting stuck in the recline position.
  2. Too Much Tension on the Recliner Spring: If the tension on the spring is too high, it can make it difficult to adjust the chair’s recline angle.
  3. Rusted Recline Lever/ Rod: Over time, the metal components of the chair, including the recline lever or rod, can get rusted and cause the chair to get stuck in the recline position.
  4. Dented Recline Rod: Excessive weight or force can cause the recline rod to dent, making it difficult to adjust the chair’s recline.
  5. Damaged Recline Tension Spring: If the tension spring that pushes the chair back to its normal position gets damaged, it can cause the chair to remain in a recline position.

Remedial Measures

Now that you know the common causes let’s explore how to fix these issues.

Decoding the Recline Mechanism

A chair’s recline mechanism is a system of linear and radial springs, levers, and stabilizer plates. When you pull the lever or reduce the tension knob, the gears get disengaged, allowing the backrest to move freely. The lever returns to its original position as you push the backrest back. If there’s a popping sound during this process, it indicates that the gas cylinder, not the recline mechanism, is the issue.

Fixing the Improper Technique

If you’re not using the correct technique to release the recline lock, it could be causing your chair to get stuck. In this case, you need to learn how to properly release the lever. First, lean back on your chair until it reaches its maximum recline. This will take the pressure off the recline tension spring and the lever. Now, you should be able to adjust the lever without much force.

Addressing Tension Spring Issues

If your chair is stuck in recline and you can’t lean back any further to loosen the lever, the issue could be with your recline spring’s tension. To fix this, adjust the tension on your recline spring. Most office chairs have a knob on the underside of the seat. Turning this knob can decrease or increase the spring tension.

Dealing with Rusted Recline Rods

If your chair is older, your recline rod might be stuck due to rust. To fix a rusty chair, use a good penetrating oil to lubricate the stuck parts. We recommend several office chair lubricants which can help loosen up the stuck parts.

Overcoming Dented Recline Rod Problems

Another reason your office chair may be stuck in recline is because of a dented recline rod. To fix this, you’ll need to examine the rod to see how dented it is. If the dent isn’t too severe, try wiggling the rod free. If that doesn’t work, you might need to replace your office chair mechanism.

Replacing Damaged Recline Tension Springs

If your office chair isn’t moving back to its normal position when you release the recline lock, the problem could be with your tension spring. In this case, you might need to replace the entire mechanism.


When to Consider a New Chair

If your chair is beyond repair or if the cost of repair exceeds its value, it might be time to consider a quality new ergonomic office chair. If you need to purchase a new mechanism for the chair, evaluate if its worth it..?

  • Does the mechanism cost more than the chairs worth?
  • Is the chair outdated, worn, not very ergonomic?
  • Can you replace the chair at not much more cost than the repair?

Remember, a well-built ergonomic office chair can last over ten years with proper maintenance.

In the end, remember that your comfort and health should be the priority. If your office chair is causing discomfort or disrupting your productivity, it might be time to invest in a new one.

This article aims to be a quick reference to help you understand and fix the issue of your office chair stuck in recline. However, there are many variants of chair – if you continue to face issues it’s best to consult the manufacturers documentation, seek a professional or consider replacing the chair.

About the Authors / Editors

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