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How To Fix A Leaning Recliner

Learning how to fix a leaning recliner can be quite the task, especially if you’re not familiar with recliners and how they work.

Luckily, the majority of the time the cause of a recliner leaning to one side is an issue with the sliding frame on the underside of the chair. This can be solved in most cases by tightening any loose screws, nuts or bolts as part of a routine inspection as well as applying any extra lubricant that is needed.

There are some cases where other problems may cause a recliner to lean, though, and we will explore these in-depth later in this article. We’ll also give you a step-by-step guide for adjusting the spring tension if you are not confident in doing this right away.

How To Adjust Inspect And Fix Your Recliner

A recliner contains a sliding frame that allows for the motion of the chair itself. This frame contains not only the springs but also joints, nuts, screws and just about anything else that can mechanically cause a recliner to lean over to one side.

There are a few tools that you will have before inspecting this sliding frame:

  • Screwdriver – You will likely have one of these laying around the house, to be used to tighten any loose screws around the frame.
  • Lubricant – If any of the joints are rusted or not moving correctly a lubricant can be applied to help the mechanism move more smoothly.
  • Wood Glue – If there is any damage to the wood such as cracks, fractures or splinters wood glue is a good option to temporarily fix this.
  • Adjustable wrench – An adjustable wrench will be useful to adjust any nuts or bolts around the frame.

Once you have gathered together the above items the frame itself can be inspected following the steps below.

Step 1: Tilt The Recliner To Access The Underside

The first step to inspecting the underside of your recliner is to tilt it over so that you can access the bottom.

If your recliner is quite heavy then this will need to be a two-person job, as you need to be able to see the entire underside of the chair. In some cases, if your chair is quite lightweight and sturdy, you may be able to lay it on the floor with the underside revealed which is an ideal position.

Step 2: Remove Upholstery or Fabric Covering The Panel

Once the underside is freely accessible you might need to remove fabric or upholstery that is in the way. A lot of recliners tend to have a thin sheet over the panel to cover it up, but it should be very easy to move this out of the way using just your hands.

Once any fabric is removed then use a screwdriver to loosen the screws around the access panel and remove it; making sure to keep the screws in the panel so you don’t forget where you placed them. After this panel is removed you should have complete access to the sliding frame that allows the chair to recline.

Step 3: Inspect The Frame For Any Damage Or Loose Screws

Now the frame is visible you need to perform an inspection for any loose screws, damage to the frame itself or joints that look worn or out of alignment.

Tighten any screws or bolts that are loose and check the joints carefully to see whether they need tightening or be treated with lubricant. Pay particular attention to the thumbwheels, or in some cases wing nuts, that are connected to the tension springs. 

These will be found at the end of a bolt directly connected to the tension springs, and if they are loose then this will be causing a lean on your recliner.

Apply wood glue to any splinters or cracks in the wood, but only use this in very small amounts and for small areas of damage – any large cracks in the frame will need to be replaced.

Step 4: Place The Recliner Back To See If It Has Worked

Once you have completed any repairs it’s time to place the recliner upright to see if the lean is still present.

Before doing so double-check all screws and bolts on the frame to ensure they have been replaced correctly. Afterwards, put the panel back into place and again double-check that the screws keeping it in place have been secured properly.

Finally, place the panel cover back into place to cover it. Now you can carefully put the recliner back upright, remembering to get a helping hand if it is particularly heavy.

Ensuring the floor is even, first check by eye for any signs of a tilt. You can then sit on the chair, and even use a spirit level to make sure that your repairs have gotten rid of the lean. If the lean is still present there can be other reasons for this, that we have listed below.

Other Reasons A Recliner Might Lean

Despite the spring tension being the main culprit for causing a recliner to lean, there are also a couple of other things that can cause the same effect. If you have carried out the repairs above and your recliner is still leaning over, then one of the reasons below is almost certainly the cause.

Uneven Floor

Certain types of flooring, such as hardwood, are susceptible to becoming uneven either overtime or because of poor installation.

If you have an uneven floor this can directly cause any chair above it to lean over, including a recliner. Unfortunately, this is not an easy fix and will require a direct repair of your flooring below.

In some cases, you can try to prop up the side of your chair that is leaning over using a small piece of fabric or cushion, but this will only temporarily fix the issue at hand.

Uneven Padding

The padding underneath the fabric of a recliner can easily become uneven. This is most likely to occur from repeated use of the chair, but it can also be more likely to happen if the padding has not been placed correctly by the manufacturer.

Uneven padding is super easy to fix – all it requires is a replacement cushion to be installed. Look for a zip on the upholstery and you’ll be able to quickly replace the existing padding by pulling it out of the gap provided by the manufacturer.

Poor Construction

Some lower quality recliners are built with poorly constructed frames which lends them to developing a lean quite easily over time. The solution for this is to either install a replacement frame or consult a professional who can diagnose the problem correctly.

When it comes to furniture it pays dividends to invest in better quality.

Parts Need Replacing

As part of the inspection process outlined above, we recommend checking all of the components of the frame to see if they needed to be adjusted or lubricated.

In some cases, certain components will be beyond repair and need to be replaced. You can usually judge this right away, and to order replacement parts we recommend getting in to contact with the manufacturer of your recliner to see whether it is still under a guarantee. Even if this is not the case they will be happy to tell you where to buy the parts that you need.

When Should You Seek Professional Help

Sometimes no matter how much effort you put in a recliner simply cannot be repaired at home. We recommend seeking a professional repair if the frame is extensively damaged and the mechanism of the chair has stopped completely as a result, or if you are unable to identify what the issue is on your own.

Final Thoughts

Repairing a leaning recliner at home is usually an easy job and requires an extensive inspection of the frame underneath the chair.

Remember to seek professional help if you need it. Recliners can be very difficult to manoeuvre and sometimes you will need an extra hand.