How To Fix A Recliner That Won’t Recline

by Andrew Smith| Last Updated: March 29, 2022

Disclosure: This site is reader-supported & contains affiliate links. We may earn a commission through products purchased using links on this page. Learn more

How To Fix A Recliner That Won't Recline

Your comfy recliner chair won’t recline? Too bad! Your recliner is a significant source of comfort and a relaxation point after a long day. Unfortunately, it fails to lean as usual and you can no longer enjoy its services. The behavior is common with most recliners.

Luckily, there’s a way out! So, how to fix a recliner that won’t recline?

You fix a recliner that won’t recline by troubleshooting the cable and arm systems responsible for the reclining mode of your chair. If the cable is broken, replace it with a new one, and if loose, fix it back using a lever. For the arm mechanism recliners, fasten loose bolts or replace the missing ones.

This article enlightens you on what causes your chair’s failure to recline and how to fix the matter. Keep reading.

Table of Contents

Why Does My Recliner Not Recline?

The primary cause of your recliner’s failure recline is the reclining mechanism. Usually, there are two major types of reclining chair mechanisms that can affect the reclining of your seat. These include a cable and an arm system. Both operate the reclining mode of your recliner chair.

For the cable system, the chair tilts back when the lever lifts or releases the footrest manually through a cable. If the cable becomes loose or breaks down, your chair won’t recline.

The arm reclining system failure occurs when the bolts fastening the arm loosen or fall away. The arm is located outside the chair and turns over to recline the chair and raise the footrest.

Other problems may include loose bolts on the lift mechanism, which may only cause partial reclining of your chair or not moving at all.

The other possible reason your recliner won’t recline is when the lever on the chair’s side becomes loose. That could be due to a loose or unfastened nut on the exterior of the lever, at its point of attachment to the chair. The lever problem may also result from pushing and pulling it quickly and repeatedly.

How To Fix A Recliner That Won’t Recline?

How to fix a recliner that won’t recline depends on the type of reclining mechanism of your chair. There are two mechanisms that operate the reclining mode of a recliner. These are the cable system and the arm employment system.

However, the former is the challenge that most recliner users face. Follow the easy step-to-step guide below to get off the hook. 

Step 1: Remove the cushion to access the handle or the lever inside the chair. Where you can’t remove it, pull it aside. The lever is fastened in the arm with two screws in a recessed, cup-like holder. 

Step 2: Find out if the cable is broken or has just loosened.

Step 3: If the cable has broken down, the only remedy is getting a new one for replacement. Step 4: Where the cable has just loosened and slipped off, hook it back to the lever.

Step 5: Assess the condition of the lever. If it’s loose, it could be the root of your recliner’s malfunctioning. Fasten the bolts and the nuts using a screwdriver and a wrench to stabilize the lever.

Step 6: If the lever has been stripped off, you have no choice but to get a new one.

Step 7: Pull up the footrest to lift or recline your chair. Lay it by the side to access the hardware responsible for the reclining mechanism and the footrest.

Step 8: If the hardware is loose, check if it’s some missing nuts. See if you can find them around and, if not, purchase others for replacement. Fix them appropriately.

Step 9: Look out for bent and missing parts. Bend and place them back to their rightful positions.

Step 10: Test the reclining features with your hands and adjust them until your recliner chair is back into shape.

How Do You Fix A Recliner Footrest That Isn’t Functioning?

You can fix a recliner footrest that isn’t functioning by following a few actionable steps . The footrest is part of the reclining system to offer maximum comfort and relaxation. If you find out that your recliner isn’t functioning even after completing all the above steps, the problem could be lying in your seat’s footrest. 

That be very frustrating! Right? Before you think of purchasing a new recliner, give your chair one last chance. Below are the sequential tips.

Remember you can always contact your recliner’s manufacturer for spare parts details.


Why Won’t My Recliner Stay Reclined?

Your recliner may fail to stay inclined due to mechanical problems. Try rotating its mechanism with your fingers and if it’s too rigid, get sturdy pliers. Tilt each wheel or nut gradually by moving quarter way each turn. Make the adjustments on both sides simultaneously to allow equal distribution of the tension.

How Does A Recliner Mechanism Work?

A recliner works by the back and forth movement of the backrest with the help of the recoil springs. The absorption of the pressure by the spring causes their compression, allowing your seat to recline as desired. To close your chair, lean forward to take the backrest to its original position. In the backward movement, the springs release the pressure and expand.

How Do You Fix A Recliner That Leans Back Too Far?

You fix a recliner that leans back too far by adjusting the tension. Start by closing the backrest and putting the backrest in an upright position. Put your chair on its armrest by tilting it forward. Locate the adjustment mechanism (wing nut or thumbwheel) underneath your chair and regulate the tension accordingly.  

How Do You Unlock A Recliner Chair?

You unlock a recliner chair by opening its back from its underside. There’s a small hook in the inner section of your recliner; push it up! Hold the back on both sides and pull it up to detach it from the recliner.

Can A Recliner’s Lever Break Down?

Yes, a recliner’s lever can break down. When you repeatedly pull the lever to raise the footrest, its handle may end up breaking or strip the lever’s inside. As a result, your chair’s footrest can’t rise, nor can the recliner recline. 


Having gone through this article, fixing your recliner that won’t recline is no longer a big issue! You can now identify the cause of your chair’s malfunctioning.

Usually, your seat fails due to broken and loose cable for the cable reclining mechanism recliners. If your recliner uses the arm system, the problem could originate from loose or missing nuts.

With the easy-to-follow step-by-step tips covered here, you can successfully fix your recliner without incurring the extra cost of hiring a technician. Take that bold step and continue enjoying the comfort and relaxation that comes with a recliner in good condition.


  • Andrew Smith

    Andrew Smith is the founder of CozySeating, is a father of 2, and an engineer from one of the leading furniture stores in the country. Due to his 10 years of experience, he has proved to be the best person to offer advice to clients regarding different seating furniture based on their needs and performance. Besides, he is a specialist in product reviews and always keeps up with the current trends in the market.

Leave a Comment

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments