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Wait – Don’t Throw Out That Office Chair Just Yet!

A good office chair will serve you well for several years. But ultimately any piece of furniture will develop a fault and get you finally thinking of buying a replacement. And unlike the fridge, washing machine or television set, you cannot call up a handyman from the yellow pages to fix your chair.

Yet most of the common faults that your trusted office chair may develop can be fixed, saving you the cost of replacement for the time being.

Here’s a list of the 7 most common faults that can befall your office chair:

  1. The gas lift fails
  2. The recline mechanism fails
  3. An armrest brakes
  4. A castor breaks or falls out
  5. The backrest collapses
  6. The foam padding in the seat wears out
  7. The upholstery wears out

This is not a particularly nasty list. But when one of these things happens, most people will think that it is time to change their chair. The good news, however, is that many of these problems can be easily solved.


The first thing to do is not always the most obvious, unless your chair is under a year old: check the warranty. Most inexpensive chairs, whether bought online or in a shop, will carry at least a one year’s warranty. The more expensive chairs made in the UK, Europe or North America, may carry a three year’s warranty or even five years. If your chair is still under warranty, you may be able to get your retailer or manufacturer to fix the problem at next to no cost. (You may have to cover the cost of sending the chair to the manufacturer and collecting it back.)

But even if your office chair is no longer under warranty, you can easily overcome most problems by buying replacement parts and fixing them yourself.


The gas lift is the cylinder that extends from the feet (5-star base) of your chair to the seat. Over time, the gas lift can fail if the weight the chair has to carry is overbearing or if you constantly raise and lower the seat height. A new gas lift can be bought from a specialist office chairs components supplier. Ask the supplier for instructions on how to remove the faulty gas lift in order to replace it with the new one.


The recline mechanism is the metal plate that is screwed to the underside of the seat of your chair. Your chair’s recline mechanism will have one, two or 3 handles to adjust the height of the seat and the tilt or recline of the backrest. If the mechanism of your chair fails, contact the original retailer and ultimately the wholesaler or manufacturer. Ask them where you can purchase an new mechanism of the type used on your chair. The new mechanism will come with instructions on how to fit it onto your chair after removing the damaged one.


Metal armrests are very sturdy. But a plastic armrest could break if a lot of pressure is often applied to it. For example do you lean on the armrests as you rise from or sink into the chair? When an armrest breaks on your chair, again ask your retailer or distributor to put you in touch with the wholesaler or manufacturer. The latter will be able to tell you how to find a component supplier who can sell you the same type of armrests or similar. You will need to check the holes through which the armrests are screwed into the seat (and possibly the backrest). Describe the fixings clearly to the component supplier to ensure that the replacement arms you receive will screw into the same holes on the seat (and backrest). Then its a matter of unscrewing the damaged armrests and replacing them with the new ones.


Office chair castors are easily found on the internet and eBay these days. A simple search in your favourite search engine will bring up a few. You will need to measure the diameter of the pins used to hold the castors into the 5-star base, the diameter of the outer collar of the castor, and the diameter of the wheels of the castor. It may be advisable to a whole set of 5 castors in case there is a slight variation in size between the old and the new.

The last three problems are ones that you may not be able to fix yourself. They either indicate the old age of your chair, or a weakness in its construction, and it may therefore be time to replace your chair.


If the backrest of your office chair collapses, something very fundamental within the backrest has probably broken. For example the plywood board within the backrest. You will not be able to fix this yourself, and the manufacturer & wholesaler will typically not sell you a new backrest if the chair is no longer under warranty. It would be time to get a new chair.


This is definitely a sign of the old age of your chair, unless an inferior quality foam padding was used in the seat of the chair, or unless the chair has been subject to some abuse or mis-use. If you are able to show that an inferior quality foam padding has been used, you may be able to get compensation from the retailer/wholesaler. If it is any of the other causes, you will probably need to get a new chair.


This problem has all the same causes and consequences as the last one above. You may be able to get compensation from the retailer or wholesaler if the manufacturer has used an inferior quality upholstery on the chair. Otherwise you may need to replace the chair. And you have a third option: you can have the chair re-upholstered by a local upholstery company.


So as you can see for all of the above, you do not always have to throw your office chair away when it develops a fault. If you spent a lot of money to get a really comfortable ofice chair and you have had it for several years, you will likely have grown very attached to your chair. Find a way to fix the problem if you can. Do not throw away the chair unless you absolutely have to.

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