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Office Chair Won’t Recline: How to Make my Office Chair Lean Back?

Office Chair Won’t Recline: How to Make my Office Chair Lean Back?

One of the most basic functions of a standard office chair is the recline. Being able to adjust the recline of your chair is highly important when you want the most comfortable sitting experience.

People often recline their office chairs when they want to just sit back and relax. Others keep their chairs reclined even when they work.

Whatever the reason is that you recline your chair, we can all agree that this function is a must-have on any office chair.

The older your office chair is, and the more daily abuse it has received, the more likely you will experience function failure.

Your office chair’s ability to recline is one of the first things that fails when it goes through years of abuse.

Without the ability to recline, it is difficult to find the most comfortable position with your office chair. You will have to settle for much less than what a standard office chair should offer.

This is why it is important to get your office chair fixed as soon as you notice that there is a problem with your recline function.

For office chairs that have motorized reclines, you will be better off getting it serviced by the professionals. The special motors inside these chairs can be quite complicated to repair and you might end up damaging it.

But for office chairs with manual reclines, their mechanisms are simple enough to be repaired at home with just a few tools and a tiny bit of experience.

Before you begin any kind of repair on your office chair, it is important to first perform some tests to pinpoint the problem. Attempting to repair something that isn’t damaged in the first place is going to waste your time and may cause more damage to your chair.

1. Testing the Recline on Your Office Chair

There are a few things that can go wrong with your office chair’s recline. It is important to identify exactly what is wrong with it before you begin any kind of repair.

To test your chair, the first thing you need to do is sit on it as you normally would for work. Pull the recline lever outward and lean back on your chair.

If your chair doesn’t budge when you lean back on it, this could be a problem with your tension adjustment. There might be too much tension that your weight is no longer enough to recline the chair.

If the problem is with the lever, you will either not be able to pull the lever outward to unlock the recline, or the lever won’t lock the chair on any position. You might need to replace the lever lock if this is the case.

If there is zero tension when you unlock the recline lever, this could possibly be a dislocated or damaged spring.

A popping noise might be heard when you recline your chair. This problem is actually not in the recline mechanism but further down at the bottom of your gas cylinder.

You may read more about this in our article on How to Fix an Office Chair Popping Noise.

You might also want to read our article on How to Take Apart an Office Chair so you can take yours apart and better diagnose the problem.

2. Adjust Tension Knob

One very common reason why your office chair will not recline is that your tension adjustment knob is set too high. This isn’t considered damage, but it will prevent you from reclining your office chair.

If your tension adjustment knob is set too high, this means there is too much tension on the mechanism that it will seem almost impossible to push your chair back into recline.

To fix this, you will simply need to turn the tension adjustment knob counterclockwise until you are able to recline your chair. Turn the knob in small increments until you get a good tension.

You don’t want to turn the knob too loose. This might cause damage to the mechanism if weight is applied abruptly on the chair.

Once you get the tension right, you can continue to use your office chair as normal.

3. Repair/Replace Recline Lever

If your recline lever seems to be stuck in one position or moves freely even on the lock position, this means it’s time to take your chair apart and have a look at what’s causing it.

To get to the recline lever you’ll first need to remove the top component of your chair. This is also called the seat.

Turn your chair upside down and unfasted the four bolts that hold the seat in place. When the seat is off, you will be able to clearly see all the parts of your mechanism.

If you see that the recline lever is either broken or dented, you will need to replace it with a new one.

If the lever is simply dislodged from its original position, you can usually push it back into position with your hands or a large screwdriver.

Make sure you lubricate all the moving parts with a good quality lubricant before putting everything back into place.

We recommend Starrett M1 lubricant for all your metal office chair moving parts.

4. Replace Recliner Spring

Aeron chair tilt repair

Your office chair will come with either a linear spring or a radial spring that will help prevent unwanted jolting when you’re adjusting your recline.

If you don’t feel any tension when you release your recline lever lock, this means there is something wrong with your spring.

To check your spring, you will first need to remove the top component of your office chair. You can do this the same way we taught you how earlier.

Once the seat is removed, you will be able to clearly see your recliner spring. If it appears broken, you will have to replace the spring.

If the spring is simply dislodged from its position, all you need to do is push it back into place.


An office chair’s ability to recline is one of the most important functions when you want a comfortable sitting experience.

When something goes wrong and your chair can no longer recline, you will need to get it fixed. The good news is that it can be easy to fix.

We hope this article has equipped you enough to be able to fix your office chair when it can no longer recline.