How to Fix an Office Chair That Leans Back

It can be incredibly frustrating and uncomfortable to work while using an office chair that isn’t functioning properly. One common malfunction in office chairs is a backward tilt when the chair should not be leaning back, so we’re tackling how to fix an office chair that leans back for you.

This issue is often caused by an imbalance in the tilt tension or a part of the chair is damaged. But, don’t worry, you don’t need to toss out your chair quite yet. There are some tricks for how to fix an office chair that leans back to an uncomfortable point.

It is difficult to be productive and focused at work when your chair is fighting against you, so don’t work in discomfort anymore. Use this guide to get your office chair back to normal so you can get back to work.

Causes and Fixes For An Office Chair That Leans Back

Replace Casters

Casters are the metal part of the chair where the wheels are inserted. If one of these is damaged or worn out, this can cause the chair to lean awkwardly because it is off balance.

You should replace the casters, or the wheels if they are damaged, so you can restore your workplace comfort and prevent an office accident from occurring. It may sound silly, but falling in an office chair is a hazard, especially if your chair is broken. It can lead to serious injuries one might not expect.

To replace the casters, tip the chair on its side and use a screwdriver to remove the casters from their sockets. Insert the new caster and screw it in securely. Flip the chair back over and check to see if it is still leaning back.

Adjust The Tilt Tension

The tilt tension is how much tension there is in the chair when you put weight on it and lean back. Most chairs have a knob on the back or underneath the seat that allows you to adjust the tilt tension.

Sit in the chair with your feet flat on the floor and lean back. Reach for the knob and tighten it until the chair only leans as far back as you want it to. Sometimes you need to lean forward in the chair so the seatback will follow you.

The knobs can loosen over time with every instance of weight on the chair, so it is normal for these to need retightening.

Tighten The Seat Plate

The seat plate is a steel frame beneath the chair’s cushion that stops you from falling through the chair seat onto the floor. If the chair seats become loose, which happens with everyday wear and tear, it may cause the chair to lean back excessively.

To figure out if this is the problem, flip your chair onto its side and take a look at the seat plate. Does it seem to be pulling away from the bottom of the seat cushion? If so, it just needs a little tightening.

Using a screwdriver, tighten all the screws or bolts on the seat plate until it is snug against the bottom of the seat cushion.

Consequences of a Leaning Chair

A chair that leans back isn’t just a nuisance, it can also be dangerous to your health and safety.

Spinal Pressure

Leaning back in your office chair can have negative effects on your posture and spine. When you are forced to lean back, it puts tension on three different parts of your spine, and most specifically, can injure your lumbar and neck areas.

Frankly, if you are sitting ergonomically, your back should never need the support of the chair back. Leaning backward while sitting and facing forward is bad for posture and spinal wellness.

Leaning against your chair back can increase lumbar discomfort and neck problems. So having a chair that is constantly forcing you into an awkward, backward tilt, is probably taking a toll on your body.

Workplace Accidents

how to fix an office chair that leans back
Source: Shutterstock

As mentioned, you may get a comical image in your head when you picture someone leaning back in their chair and wiping out onto the floor. Although funny in slapstick comedies, in real life this is a serious hazard in offices and should be considered when a chair is damaged.

Tips For Taking Care of Your Chair

Prevention is always better than a solution. So keep these tips for caring for your office chair in mind so you can avoid these kinds of chair malfunctions.

If you follow these steps for chair care, your office chair will likely last you a long time and remain comfortable and functional.

Keep It Lubricated

Keeping your chair parts well-lubricated is a great way to prevent common problems from occurring. The most common nuisance that arises from dry or rusty pieces is a squeaky chair that could drive anyone crazy. In general, metal parts don’t do well they aren’t oiled over time.

Inspect The Casters

Casters are a part of office chairs that often get damaged and need to replace. Luckily, replacing them isn’t very difficult and is usually rather affordable compared to buying a new chair. Checking up on your casters periodically can help prevent a damaged caster from leading to a different problem.

As discussed, a damaged caster can lead to a leaning or tilting chair, which no one wants. So to keep the chair in tip-top shape, give your casters a good inspection every few weeks to make sure they are still in good condition.

Tighten All The Fasteners

It is always a good idea to keep all your screws and bolts tight so chair parts don’t start to wiggle loose. You also don’t want your chair collapsing underneath you. So maybe once a month or so take a wrench or screwdriver and tighten up all the fasteners on the chair.

It’s best to flip it over so you can see all of the fasteners you are dealing with. If you still have your chair’s user manual, you can see if there is a diagram that points to all the fasteners on the chair. This will help be sure the chair is in tip-top shape.

Bottom Line

Before you toss out your tilting chair, try these quick and easy steps to reduce the tilt in your chair. It may not seem like a huge deal, but a chair that leans back too far is a hazard in the office and a danger to your spinal health.

Don’t grin and bear the discomfort when your chair probably just needs a little TLC to return to its former glory.


Aren’t Office Chairs Supposed to Lean Back?

Many office chairs are designed to allow you to lean back comfortably. But it is when your chair is leaning back while you lean forward, or it is leaning way too far back.

But if you are sitting ergonomically, your back shouldn’t even need to lean against the chair’s back, so keep this in mind while sitting.

What If My Chair Stops Leaning Back?

If your chair stops leaning back altogether, this is a different set of possible problems. It can be a broken lever, knob, or another part of the chair. This is far less common than a chair leaning excessively.

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