It is estimated that more than 50% of people suffer from back pain due to the wrong chair height. In an office chair, we spend an average of six to eight hours sitting down. In addition, the posture with which we sit directly impacts our spine.
A chair that is too low and does not stay up puts your health at risk.
Among the most common problems in offices is a chair that will not stay upright. I know the best techniques to fix an office chair that won’t stay upright. It is necessary to begin by understanding how an office chair functions.
Can the Wrong Chair Height Cause Health Issues?
To achieve the optimum level of leg comfort, you need to balance the chair height with the angle of your knees. When sitting, your knees should form a 90-degree angle with your feet, and this can only be achieved when your feet are touching the ground. Otherwise, your legs will swell.
You may experience lower back pain when sitting in low-height chairs, says verywellhealth.com.
Nevertheless, taller guys are typically the most difficult to find a suitable chair, even with a well-rounded height adjustment. Sometimes, long legs can force you to sit with cross legs or partially or fully straight legs, depending on the height of the chair. As a result, limb pressure is created.
Thus, the part of the lower-mid limb may experience tingling, numbness, or strain. In addition, a cramped comfort space for your legs ultimately dispenses your entire posture, which indirectly hurts your lower back, hips, and thighs. Therefore, the right height will make your legs more comfortable.
Mechanism of An Office Chair
The office chair has a pneumatic cylinder that allows the seat to rise or sink. The pressurized air inside the pneumatic cylinder moves the piston, which allows the chair height to be adjusted. Using air pressure as a support system, the pneumatic cylinder creates a suspension that allows the user to adjust the seat height. An essential component of the pneumatic support system is a control valve that increases or decreases the height and supports your weight.
Repairing a shrunken chair without understanding its cylinder mechanism is a fool’s errand. To fix an office chair that won’t stay upward, first understand the mechanism in detail,
In the first image, the chair is not loaded with weight, and the valve is closed — this is what happens when you stand up. Here, the upper part of the pneumatic cylinder has low pressure than the bottom part.
In the second image, the chair is not loaded with weight, and the valve is open — when you try to open the valve without seating on the chair. The valve, in this case, allows air from the bottom part to reach the upper part. As a result, the upper part of the air creates pressure on the piston, moving downward. As a result, the chair rises.
Finally, in the third image, the chair is loaded with weight, and the valve is open — when you sit down and open the valve to adjust. Now, the bodyweight creates a pressure that causes the upper cylinder gas to travel to the lower cylinder. Therefore, the piston moves upward, and the chair sinks.
The Causes of Sinking Office Chair
In most chairs, the pneumatic cylinder can fail over time, particularly when the seal is damaged beyond the pressure can be maintained.
A chamber filled with nitrogen gas inside a gas lift cylinder is like a piston mechanism. A chamber with an airtight seal holds compressed air that raises the chair by flowing air into the chamber. Again, we use the lever to lock the height.
Thus, the first cause is that if there is no air, the cylinder cannot sustain the chair’s weight so that the chair will free fall.
Another cause of a sinking office chair is a leaky piston or valve.
What to Do when Your Chair Won’t Stay Put
Yes, now that you know the disadvantages of sitting on a chair that won’t stay up, here are the different methods you can use to fix that annoying wobbly chair.
Replace Gas Cylinder
As I said above, if the cylinder does not contain any gas, you need to replace it. It’s probably the last thing you should do to fix an office chair that won’t stay up. Test the chair by sitting on it. Only use this method if you’ve confirmed that the cylinder is damaged and the chair keeps sinking after you’ve tried the two methods below.
To replace the gas cylinder, you need:
- Brand-new chair gas lift cylinder
- Pipe Wrench
- Rubber mallet
Note: Use these tools carefully — do not damage the sinking chair. Also, don’t tamper with the gas spring. Any tamper to the cylinder core can cause an explosion.
Step 1: Remove the Wheelbase
Firstly, turn the office chair upside down. To remove the wheelbase from the chair mechanism, gently hammer the center of the base towards the upside with a rubber mallet. It is important to use steady but moderate strokes to avoid damaging your wheels. If it doesn’t come off easily, you may need to use WD40 in the joints.
Steps 2: Remove the Cylinder from The Sinking Chair
You can do this in two ways:
A pipe wrench should be tightened to the cylinder and twisted until the cylinder is released from the chair mechanism.
If that doesn’t help, try the next method.
Remove the cylinder with a chair mechanism from the seat pan. To remove the mechanism from the seat pan, you will need an Allen key or screwdriver.
Hold the cylinder and tap the chair mechanism with the rubber mallet until both come apart. Use WD40 if the cylinder seems stuck.
Step 3: Install a New Cylinder and Assemble the Wheelbase
Connect the new cylinder to the chair mechanism and then attach the wheelbase. You can use the pipe wrench to tighten the cylinder to the mechanism. Set the chair mechanism in its pan by screwing it down. We’re done.
Insert the narrow end of the gas lift cylinder (the gas spring) into the chair’s mechanism.
Install a Chair Saver Kit
A spacer ring in the chair saver kit looks like this,
With the Chair Saver Kit, you can restore your sinking chair to working order in as little as 15 minutes. As shown in the below figure, snap the spacer rings onto the piston of the current gas cylinder lift. Along with the cylinder lift, the spacers will help support the seat pan. Don’t worry; the spacers are strong enough to support your body weight.
Stack spacers until the seat pan reaches the desired height. In terms of ergonomics, the ideal height of the seat pan is when it matches your standing knee height.
It’s a cheap purchase, and it comes with a 5-year warranty, showing that the manufacturer is confident of its durability. Since they are universal, it’s best to purchase a large quantity for when you’ll need them. When one of the rings breaks or needs a higher seat height, this kit allows you to replace it easily. Moreover, the chair doesn’t have to be disassembled all at once.
PVC Pipe Method
You can always make your own spacer rings out of PVC pipe instead of buying them. However, DIY PVC pipe spacers won’t have the perfect finish like store-bought spacers. PVC pipe method is the most budget-friendly method to fix a sinking office chair.
Follow the below steps for making a DIY PVC pipe spacer,
Measure the Chair’s Cylinder Diameter
Use a vernier caliper to determine the diameter of the cylinder. Now, all you need is a PVC pipe whose inner diameter should be equal to or slightly lesser than the cylinder diameter.
PVC pipe Inner diameter = Cylinder’s outer diameter.
** It’s better to use PVC piping, whose inner diameter is smaller than the cylinder. Because the pipe is stretched, it will hold the cylinder firmly in place.
If you wish to set the chair to your preferred height, ensure you purchase enough straight pipe to extend from the wheelbase to the seat. Moreover, the pipe does not need to be one piece. While you can easily cut it yourself at home, it may be easier to work within smaller pieces.
Cut the PVC Pipe And Install
Now, cut the PVC pipe to create spacers identical to the figure shown below.
The gap sides should be 45 degrees apart from the center of the gap. Well, you could cut long pieces of PVC pipe into smaller ones for easier handling — same as the store-bought spacers.
Put these DIY spacers in the same way you put the spacers from the chair saver kit in.
Hose Clamp or Duct Tape
Instead of chair riser kits or PVC spacers, duct tape can help to fix an office chair that won’t stay up. You only need to use this method once to fix a sinking office chair. Adjustment is not possible after fixing.
Firstly, clean the cylinder surface so that it won’t be greasy. A greasy surface can make the hose clamp slide.
Wrap duct tape around the cylinder so that the hose clamp has more grip.
Next, turn the chair upside down.
Then, from a hardware store, obtain a 34″ (2 cm) hose clamp (Jubilee Clip). Oil the hose clamp (Jubilee Clip) and remove the belt end. Wrap and tighten the clamp around the metal cylinder. For the clamp to be effective, it must be tight.
As the cylinder is not working, the seating height will be the minimum chair seat height. Hence, you may need single or multiple hose clamps depending on your desired seating height.
No of Hose Clamps Required = (Desired Chair Height – Minimum Chair Height)/ Hose Clamp Band Width
After you calculated no of hose clamps required, it’s time to wrap them.
Wrap them around the cylinder as we did with the spacers. You can stack clamps if you need more than one.
- Ensure the clamp is at the top of the cylinder.
- Turn the screw until the hose clamp is snug.
Remember, you won’t be able to adjust the height of the unit. If you need to alter the chair height in any way, you can add or remove the hose clamps. Similar steps will be taken as above.
Fix an Office Chair that Is Lopsided
The cylinder and defects in the castors, wheels and swivel seat plate can cause the chair to be lopsided, which gives the impression of a sinking office chair. Now, let’s know the methods to fix an office chair that’s lopsided.
Sometimes chairs bend or collapse when you sit in them. Be sure the castors are firmly fixed to the legs, and ensure they are free of defects. There’s a chance that the screw is loose or missing. It’s not difficult to fix that. Additionally, one or more castors might need to be replaced.
Chair legs may also be unscrewed or pulled loose, depending on their design. Try spraying a lubricant like Q20 on the joint if it is difficult to loosen the castor. Next, buy a replacement castor. To install the new castor, you’ll either need to slot it over the leg or screw it into place.
Swivel Seat Plate
Usually, the metal swivel plate underneath the seat causes a problem if the castors are in working order. Ensure that the seat bolts are tightly screwed into the plastic seat holder. An absent bolt on one side of the seat plate will cause it to automatically wobbly. Additionally, you may find that the seat plate has been bent or damaged. Therefore, the part must be replaced.
Professional Chair Repair
Maintaining your office chairs regularly is a good idea. By doing so, any fault on the chair can be detected before it is considered garbage. For example, cylinders can be repaired before they run out of gas.
The following items are included in an office chair repair service:
Professional Repair Cost
If you are skeptical about repairing the sinking office chair by yourself and the office chair keeps sinking, you can always help professionals. Get it fixed! For about $40, professionals can replace an office chair gas cylinder.