Captain's chair, not dentist's chair.
October 15, 2007 1:33 PM   Subscribe

How do I adjust this office chair? No, not an ergonomics question - I need a control manual.

My office was reorganized recently and someone stuck me with their unwanted chair. It's just like all of the others, but it's been adjusted poorly and noone here knows how to put it back.

The seat is tilted backwards, so that your knees are elevated, and the backrest has also leaned back to maintain the 90 degree angle between back and seat. It would be a nice seat for the front row at the cinema, but it's a real pain to sit in perch on at a desk.

I've eliminated most of the controls except a round one under the front right side. It shows the numbers 1,2,3,4 in a circle, with a thickening line running from 1 (thin end) to 4. I've tried turning it both ways, pulling it out, pushing it in, and trying combinations of push/pull while turning. It's got about a quarter turn of play but doesn't do anything. Does anyone know how to drive this thing?
posted by ceribus peribus to Technology (3 answers total)
Pretty sure the knob thing you are talking about is for controlling how much pressure is required to make the chair recline.

Sounds like your chair is locked in the position it's in now. Do you have a latch or something that flips up and down? Or maybe slides in and out? If you find something like this you want to unlock (while sitting), reposition your chair, then relock.
posted by tracert at 2:57 PM on October 15, 2007

Some chairs have a lever to adjust the height of the seat by lifting the lever and this lever also pushed in and out to lock or unlock the tilt of the chair. Try pulling the lever straight out to the side.
posted by dg at 8:43 PM on October 15, 2007

Here's a link to a generic description of the controls for one of the most adjustable kinds of zero-stress chairs, like BodyBilt. Generally, a round control knob under the seat sets the spring pre-load for the seat pan tilt-action.

But many 5-leg rolling office chairs aren't generally designed to be used in a full "tilt back" (feet up on the desk) position - many are fairly unbalanced, particularly for tall people, when the seat height is adjusted nearly to maximum. Tall users who may then lean back fully, with the seat height at maximum, can quickly get into unstable positions in such chairs. So, the spring tension for tilt back should be fairly high, and always sufficient to return the chair seat to level, when empty. A small amount of "free play" in the tilt of the seat pan is permissible, probably not more than a 1/4". But more than this generally means some part of the seat pan or the tensioning mechanism is bent or broken.

If your chair seems to permanently tilt back, it's probably because someone, leaning back, has forcefully bent or broken part of the tilt mechanism, or the seat pan. This is much easier to do, than you think it would be, on many chairs, perhaps as a way of permanently showing that the chair was abused (particularly if you think chair manufacturers are devious).

Be very careful using such a chair, if you use it at all. If you can, turn it over, and compare it carefully to a similar model chair. If you find bent, broken, or missing hardware, avoid using the chair until reliable repairs can be made.
posted by paulsc at 3:22 AM on October 16, 2007

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