My Recliner Is Sticking

Reclining chairs offer comfort and flexibility in any room of your home. They employ a wide range of shapes, styles, materials and mechanical components. However, all recliners can stick in one position. This occurs for one of several reasons, but it usually is a problem that can be repaired by the chair's owner or a service professional.

Inviting chair
credit: Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images
A recliner can get stuck in the up or down position.

The Problem

When a recliner sticks, its mechanism fails to have a full range of movement. Some chairs stick in the down, or closed, position, making it impossible to angle the chair back or raise the footrest. Others stick in the open position, with the footrest up and the back tilted so that it won't move forward again. Recliners with independently adjustable settings might stick in one place but not elsewhere. Some sticking recliners will change positions only after you apply excessive force.

Causes

A recliner can stick for a number of reasons. The springs, hinges and joints that form the reclining mechanism are all subject to rust, which can make movement difficult or impossible. As a recliner's frame sags from age or excessive weight, the mechanism can compress below it, eliminating the clearance that individual parts of the reclining mechanism need to move freely. An obstruction in the mechanism, such as a small object kicked under the chair, can also cause the recliner to stick by preventing its mechanism from moving freely.

Diagnosis

The first step in diagnosing a stuck recliner is inspecting its mechanism. This involves turning the chair on its side and removing a bottom panel that shields the mechanism. Any visible rust or broken metal is a sure sign of a problem. If the mechanism operates normally when the chair is on its side but not when the chair is upright, the problem likely comes from the weight of the chair and the user compressing the springs or blocking part of the mechanism from moving. Scraping off rust, applying grease to hinges and removing obstructions will solve some of the most obvious recliner problems.

Professional Repair

A professional furniture builder or repair worker should solve most problems with recliners sticking. Professionals have access to specialized tools as well as replacement parts. However, if you want to avoid the cost of repairs, check your recliner's warranty first. Some recliners come with lifetime warranties on certain parts, which means you can order a replacement part or get service at no cost. For an older chair that's still in good condition but no longer covered by a warranty, paying for repairs is still more cost-effective than buying a new recliner.