A good office chair is hard to find, and once you’ve got one, you don’t want to give it up. Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to repair most of the parts on your chair if one of them breaks, so you can save money, and keep using your beloved throne.
My current office chair is this incredibly ugly, yet unbelievably comfortable, knock off “racing” style gaming chair. After years of working from home and going through a parade of fair-to-middling chairs, I finally found the one that works for me. It was more expensive than the basic one I could grab from a local store, but it was exactly what I wanted.
Then a part broke.
The ring on the tilt control mechanism that connects to the lift cylinder bent to the point of cracking. The chair was leaning forward in such a way that it was throwing off my balance. It’s unclear whether this was a problem with the chair (I did buy a knock off after all) or with my own sitting habits (I refuse to sit in my chair like a normal human with good posture). Either way, my $150 chair was broken after a year and a half. Just outside of its warranty. Of course.
I had a few options. I could toss the whole thing and buy a new one. But at this price range and with it being relatively new, I didn’t approve of that option. I could ask my employer to expense a new one—but wait, hang on—I’m freelance. My boss just said he doesn’t approve.
That left me with a third option: fix it myself. A replacement tilt control mechanism was selling for about $30 on Amazon. Far less than the cost of any halfway decent office chair. Replacing it only took unscrewing a few bolts and pulling the lift cylinder out of the old one. The entire process took about 15 minutes. All of a sudden, my chair was as good as new.
But the tilt control is hardly the only part of an office chair you can replace. In no particular order, here are some of the easiest parts to replace on your office chair. Keep in mind that every office chair is different, so it’s worth measuring and comparing your own chair to the parts you buy before you get them shipped to you.
The caster wheels on your chair can break, but more often than not they just get so gummed up with hair and dirt that they no longer move. Fortunately, they’re one of the easiest parts to replace. A set of five costs about $12. You can buy an entire set and replace your wheels one at a time as you need to, or all of them at once.
You wouldn’t think an office chair would take a lot of damage, but the big plastic base that your wheels attach to can hit walls, desks, and other obstacles. Every once in a while, they can crack or break apart. These can be one of the most expensive parts to replace—even a basic plastic base can cost $30—but you can also spend money to upgrade them. This aluminum base, for example, costs $55—almost as much as some basic office chairs—but it’s much less likely to break when you smash into a desk because you flung yourself across your office too quickly.
The main cylinder your chair sits on usually has a pneumatic tub that can raise or lower based on your needs. They can also wear out. If you find your chair sinking or not holding its height, a replacement cylinder costs about $14. They can easily slip in and out of the chair base on the bottom and tilt control mechanism on the top
As I mentioned above, the tilt control mechanism is fairly easy to replace. It might look complicated, but don’t let it intimidate you. Just make sure you get one that properly fits your chair base. The bolt holes in the bottom of your chair have a specific arrangement, and you can’t really move them. So measure them out, match them to the arrangement on the tilt control mechanism, and if possible check the reviews to see if anyone else has a similar chair to yours.