Why Won’t My Office Chair Recline?

An office chair will not recline if certain parts are damaged or displaced, primarily the tension knob, recline lever, and recliner spring.

While these are the most common issues for mechanical chairs, a motorized recline is more difficult to diagnose and should be evaluated by a professional.

It’s easy to figure out if one of these parts is the culprit behind your office chair’s failure to recline, and fixing the issue is not difficult.

Keep reading to learn how to learn why your office chair won’t recline and what you can do to get back that comfort.

Why Won't My Office Chair Recline

Diagnosing Office Chair Recline Issues

As long as you have an office chair with a manual recline, it shouldn’t be difficult to pinpoint the reason it will not recline.

Taking the time to diagnose the issue can save you time trying to repair other problems.

Keep in mind that an office chair with a motorized recline needs professional attention for diagnostics and repair.

Their specialized motors are complicated to work with, and it’s too easy to cause further damage and lead to a more costly repair.

Start your diagnostic process by sitting on your chair like normal. 

Pull the recline lever and try to lean back in the chair:

If the chair does not move at this point it’s likely the tension knob.

If there is too much tension on the knob, your weight will no longer be sufficient to recline the chair

You need to adjust the tension to fix the problem.

You may also notice a problem with the recline lever.

Such as the inability to unlock the lever or the lever’s inability to lock the chair in any one position. 

Replacing the lever lock can fix these problems.

Read More >> How to Fix an Office Chair That Leans Back Too Much?

If there is no tension when you unlock the recline lever, look to the recline spring. This usually indicates a damaged or dislocated part.

An office chair that pops when it reclines (or refuses to recline) indicates issues further down in the gas cylinder. Deep cleaning and greasing the components should fix the problem.

Most of these are easy fixes, and you should have no problem addressing the issue on your own.

Reason #1: Tension Knob

If your chair does not move at all, start by looking at the tension knob. More often than not, this indicates that the tension is set too high.

This is not a damaged part, but it will prevent you from reclining until you address the issue.

If there is too much tension on the mechanism, you won’t have enough room to push your chair back and recline. You need to decrease the tension, usually by turning the knob counterclockwise.

Work in small increments to prevent damaging your chair. If you loosen it too much, the sudden weight can cause you to blow through other components.

Turn the knob, then test the recline. Repeat this process until you get back to the recline you desire.

Reason #2: Recline Lever

If you notice the lever does not lock, unlock, or move properly, you need to take the chair apart to get a better look at the problem.

For most office chairs, start by removing the seat.

Turn your chair upside down and locate the bolts that hold it in place. Unfasten these and remove the seat, setting it to the side.

With the seat gone, you should be able to see all the parts of the recline mechanism. Locate the recline lever and inspect it.

If the lever is broken or even dented, go ahead and replace it. Most manufacturers provide a point of contact for replacement parts in the manual or on their website.

The recline lever may also be dislodged. If this is the case, use your hands or a screwdriver to push it back into place.

While you have the mechanism open, it is a good idea to lubricate all the moving parts with a high-quality all-purpose lubricant before reassembly.

My Office Chair Won't Recline

Reason #3: Recliner Spring

Office chairs come with a recliner spring that limits jolting when you adjust the recline. This allows for a more pleasant experience and improves the overall comfort of the chair.

Whether this is a linear or radial spring, you’ll notice a lack of tension when you release the lever lock.

You can check on the recliner spring by removing the seat (as mentioned above) and laying eyes on it.

If the recliner spring is broken, you can easily replace it. The spring may also be dislodged, and securing it in the proper location should fix your problem.

Reason #4: Gas Cylinder

Popping when you recline the chair indicates issues in the bearings and washers needed for normal movement.

The ones located at the bottom of the gas cylinder run into the most problems over time and as you use the chair, and when they crack or dry up, they start to pop and hinder performance.

To fix these problems, remove the bottom of the office chair. With the chair upside down, find the small lock pin at its center and use pliers to remove it.

There should also be a washer and a small rubber bumper to remove before you can pull the base from the gas cylinder.

Once this is opened up, remove the washer and bearing at the tip of the gas cylinder. Clean all the dirt and grease from the gas cylinder thoroughly.

Apply new grease to the cylinder, washers, and bearing, then put everything back together. 

It should be easier to recline your office chair, and you shouldn’t have any further issues.

Read More >> How Do Office Chair Cylinders Work?

When to Pursue Professional Repairs

If you cannot locate the source of the problem, there is no harm in pursuing professional repairs, especially with a high-end office chair.

They should be able to quickly and efficiently diagnose and fix the issue.

Chairs with motorized recline almost always require professional help.

Beyond resetting your chair using your manufacturer’s listed method, there are too many intricate parts that can fail in this system. 

A professional can save you time, money, and hassle by getting to the root of the problem quickly.

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Darryl Higgins

Hi, I'm Darryl. I made this site to help share information & reviews about ergonomic desks, chairs & accessories to help others who want to work more comfortably. Learn more about my journey by reading my bio here. Enjoy!
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Darryl Higgins

Hi, I'm Darryl. I made this site to help share information & reviews about ergonomic desks, chairs & accessories to help others who want to work more comfortably. Learn more about my journey by reading my bio here. Enjoy!

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