How to fix a pneumatic cylinder desk chair

Written by laura paquette
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How to fix a pneumatic cylinder desk chair
The shaft between the chair and the base is often the source of problems. (office chair image by Paul Moore from

Many office chairs that can be raised, lowered and swivelled feature a pneumatic cylinder. Over time, leaks or excessive use can damage the cylinder, causing the chair to either lock in one position or slowly sink during the day. Instead of contacting the manufacturer for a replacement cylinder or chair, there are several simple steps you can take to salvage your chair from the dumpster. If your desk chair is wobbling, but still changes position vertically, it is most likely a problem with the wheels or base. Tighten all the screws and check the wheels for uneven setting.

Things you need

  • Measuring tape
  • Marker
  • Drill
  • Long screw
  • Yardstick
  • Duct tape
  • Pipe wrench
  • Copper pipe

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  1. 1

    Check the pneumatic cylinder's position. If the cylinder is locked in place and will not rise at all, most likely an essential element is broken. The best solution is to replace the cylinder or secure the chair permanently in the desired position. If the cylinder touches the floor, the problem may only be a missing washer or spring clip. Contact the manufacturer for a replacement. If the cylinder slowly lowers over time, the problem is most likely internal and you may be able to fix it by dissembling the chair.

  2. 2

    Sit in the chair and determine the desired height for your desk. Measure the distance from the base of the seat to the floor and make a mark where the cylinder falls in this position. If you'd rather have the chair locked in the correct position, use a drill to make a small hole through the entire shaft and insert screws into either side.

  3. 3

    Lock the chair in a raised position with wood and duct tape if you don't have access to a drill. Some suggest pieces of a yardstick. After moving the chair to the desired height, break or cut the yardstick pieces to fit snugly between the wheel base and seat. Secure with several strips of duct tape to hold the seat in place.

  4. 4

    Dissemble the chair completely using a pipe wrench. Lay the chair seat down on a workspace and remove the clip and washer and the centre of the base, depending on the model. Remove the base slowly and check for small parts. Place pipe wrench on main shaft and turn in either direction to loosen.

  5. 5

    Tighten the screw at the top of the lift to control the air pressure and reduce leaking. If you find an issue with the piston, you can use copper piping to replace a broken or bent piston. Reassemble the chair, including all pieces.

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