Step By Step Guide On How To Adjust A Recliner

So many nice things have been said about recliners, but you may find yourself questioning them when you slide into this seemingly superior chair and fail to experience the highly touted comfort it’s supposed to provide. No, you did not make the wrong decision; you only need to adjust a few things and that problem will be gone for good. If you have no idea how to adjust recliners, then you have come to the right place.

Here’s something you probably didn’t know about recliners: they don’t come ready to cater to your individual needs. You have to customize the chair to your specific preferences. That’s how you get it to serve you as it should. 

It can be a little challenging at first. You need a bit of knowledge and a few skills to do the adjustments. That’s where this guide comes in. It is so comprehensive yet simplified enough to help you do this in the shortest time possible without any errors.

Because most recliners follow a standardized manufacturing process, the procedure is pretty much the same regardless of the brand. Before I let you in on the steps, however, let’s first find out when you should do the adjustment. 

When Should You Adjust Your Recliner Chair? 

How to adjust recliners

Adjustment mostly centers around two things: recliner tension and pitch. 

Recliner tension refers to how easy or difficult it is to tilt the chair back. You will encounter different scenarios that will require you to either increase or decrease the recliner tension. 

For example, if you have a relatively great weight, the recliner is more likely to tilt back too easily. You will need either big man recliners or more tension to feel comfortable. Other situations that may require extra tension include when one is taller, pregnant, or has back problems. But it doesn’t end there.

If you plop yourself down on the chair and it rapidly tilts back, that’s another sign that you need to add tension. When the chair is too loose, it’s not only your comfort that is compromised; your safety also won’t be guaranteed as the chair might end up falling backward. 

It’s the opposite if you have a smaller weight or are experiencing a reduction in strength, probably due to a medical condition or procedure. You do not want to wrestle with a recliner when you are in such a state. The best thing to do is to reduce tension so that the backrest can lead backward with ease. And if you have children, an equally better alternative would be to get the best recliners for kids.

Now, you can only tell if the recliner tension is too much or too little by testing your recliner. Sit on the recliner, locate the buttons or lever that controls its reclining mechanism, lean back, and start to operate it. If you are struggling to recline the chair, that automatically means the tension is too high. And if the chair falls back too easily, you need extra tension.

That said, let’s now look at how to adjust a recliner.

How To Adjust Recliners: The Steps 

Step 1: Flip The Chair 

First of all, clear your working area so that nothing gets in the way as you fix and test the recliner. Next, ensure the backrest is upright and the footrests are closed. 

Also, check the weight of your chair to see if you are going to need help flipping it. This is important because you do not want accidents or breakages happening because you underestimated the chair’s weight.

Now, you can turn the chair upside down to reveal its underside. The best position is where the armrests are touching the floor, supported by the top side of the backrest. 

Step 2: Look For The Adjustment Components

Carefully examine the chair’s underside to identify the tension adjustment mechanism. For most recliners, this section is clearly visible, though the placement varies. It could be at the bottom, center, or near the back.

Most models use either wingnuts or thumbwheels. Both the left and right sides of the chair will have one attached to a bolt that is also connected to tension springs. If you cannot see such a mechanism, then your chair cannot be adjusted.

Step 3: Adjust The Recliner 

This is where you either increase or decrease tension. Whatever action you take should be based on the results of your assessment. If your goal is to add tension, turn the thumbwheel/wing nut clockwise. To reduce tension, do the opposite. It’s that simple, really!

Just make sure that the adjustment is the same on either side of the recliner. An easier way to go about this is to make full, half, or quarter turns. This way, it’s easier to keep the adjustments uniform

Some recliner models are easy to adjust; you don’t need special tools or gloves. However, some are difficult, and you can tell based on the effort required to turn the thumbwheel/wing nut. 

Step 4: Test The Tension

How To Adjust Recliners: The Steps 

Turn the chair back into an upright position, sit down on it, and test the tension to see if it’s at the level you wanted. If it’s still tilting back too rapidly or it’s overly stiff, get off the recliner, flip it, and repeat the four steps. 

This is not unusual at all, so don’t be discouraged too early. In fact, it may be a while before you fully master the correct tension to use for yourself, children, and other person(s) who use their chair often.

Just keep doing the adjustments until you find a configuration that gives you or the person using it the comfort you desire. 

Bonus Tip

A common mistake most people make is adjusting the tension to the extreme, i.e. either too tight or too loose. What this does is damage your tension springs. They may snap or lose their effectiveness. The trick to avoiding such scenarios is making sure your spring isn’t too loose or rigid. 

Before wrapping this up, let’s look at how to adjust a La-Z-Boy recliner.

How To Adjust A La-Z-Boy Recliner

La-Z-Boy recliners also feature tension adjustment. Whenever you feel a bit of discomfort, this is what you should do.

Get a plier or a tool that can make the adjustment easier. Turning the wing nuts with your bare hands may be difficult, especially if your fingers aren’t small enough to access them. 

Next, follow the four steps we have discussed. Flip the recliner, locate the wingnuts, adjust them based on your preferences and individual needs, then test it. You can also convert manual recliner to electric recliner.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do You Fix a Recliner That Leans to One Side?

When your recliner leans to one side, there could be a number of things behind that. It may be due to poor engineering, loose wooden frames, uneven padding, an uneven floor, or an imbalance in the spring mechanism. 

Most of the time, the leaning on the side is due to the tension not being balanced. One side probably has lower or stronger tension than the other. But it’s easy to fix this. 

Remember the four steps we have just discussed? Follow them, but when you get to the point where you have to adjust the recliner, turn the wingnuts or thumb wheels until the tension is uniform on both the left and right sides. Test the recliner and continue adjusting to the point you feel most comfortable.

How Do You Fix a Recliner That Won’t Close?

There are so many reasons why your recliner may fail to close. It doesn’t mean you should replace it. More often, it’s due to reasons you can easily fix. First on the list is regular wear and tear. 

Since the reclining mechanism varies from model to model, take time to understand yours. Once you are familiar with how it works, carefully examine the components, such as the cable, cord, pull handle, and spring mechanism. 

Common culprits include spring tension problems, poor lubrication, and loose buts, bolts, and rivets. For the electric models, such a problem may occur due to wiring issues or damaged components. 

You can use the manual as a guide on how to fix the issues or call in an expert to help you.

A Summary Of How To Adjust A Recliner 

I’m sure you agree with me now that this is a simple process. Only four steps and you have your recliner in a configuration that gives you the most comfort.

Even though this can be done with bare hands, I would recommend that you have the relevant tools on standby just in case you encounter difficulty in turning the wing nuts or thumbwheels.

Also important to mention is that the steps only apply to manually operated recliners. If you have a power recliner, the procedure may be a little bit different.