Problems With Electric Recliners

Power recliners lift you from a seated position or move the chair through its different positions, based on the model and type. But, as with all things mechanical and electrical, problems can occur when you first set up the recliner or after prolonged use. To ensure your electric recliner stays operational longer, lubricate the mechanical connections on a regular basis or have it serviced when needed.

red leather armchair
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Red reclining chair close up.

Delivery Strapping

Lift up the bottom of your recliner to ensure the strapping has been removed. If you do not remove this strapping before trying to use the chair, it won't work. The straps were factory installed to prevent the recliner from shifting or opening up during shipping. Cut them with household scissors or a utility knife.

Check for Power

Verify the unit has power by ensuring all the wire connections are hooked up beneath the chair before plugging the cord into the transformer and then plugging the transformer into the wall. Check the outlet to ensure it's operational or turn on the wall switch that controls it.

Bad Transformer

Electric recliners do not use that much electricity during operation, and they have a step-down transformer installed on the cord between the electrical outlet and the chair, similar to those used on laptops. Because the transformer sits on the ground, it's easy for rambunctious kids or pets or even vacuums to knock the transformer plug loose. Verify the light on the transfer is on and green. If it is red, it indicates an interruption in the electric current. When everything is plugged in and the unit has a red light, you may have a bad transformer.

Pinched Wire

Some of the more inexpensive electric chairs may not have their wires protected or installed in areas where they don't get pinched, crimped or severed. When the chair moves, it does so on tracks powered by gears. When the wires beneath the chair get in the way of the mechanical movements, they get cut, which causes the chair to lose power. Some units may also have wires that require connection beneath the chair before it becomes operational. Plug in any wires that need connection before plugging the unit into the power source.

Recliner Tension

Some chairs lose tension with use and have an adjustment to increase or decrease it as necessary. Check with your owner's manual before adjusting to ensure that you have this type of chair. Unplug it and turn the chair over to access the tension controls beneath it. Tighten the wing nuts -- found near the back of the chair on its bottom on each side -- atop the tensioning spring clockwise to increase recliner tension for a taller or bigger person who uses the chair. Turn it counterclockwise to reduce the tension.

Mechanical and Electrical Parts

Simple recliners use body weight and a hand-operated level to change the position of the recliner. By adding motors, gears, tracks and electrical components to the mix, the chair becomes more complicated, which means more can go wrong with it. Voltage surges can burn out its transformer or limit switches; connections can come loose or get cut; or control mechanisms can fail.