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Why Do Old Chairs Squeak?

07 July 2021

It is something we have all gone through at some point. It squeaks when you sit in a chair. It creaks as you lean back. 

It produces grinding noises when you roll it around. Over time, all kinds of tiny noises mount up, and they can get worse and worse unless they are addressed.

So, what is going on here? What is the deal with the squeaks, and what can you do about it?

Why does this Happen?

First and foremost, you must understand why old chairs squeak. We are talking about modern office chairs, gaming seats, and chairs made of low-cost plastic or some metal-framed chairs. 

If you are seeking a solution to a squeaky old wooden chair, you might want to explore elsewhere.

Know the Possible Distinct Reasons Why Chairs Start to Squeak

First, the factory lubricant has worn away. Moving parts are present in chairs, and moving parts are intended to move. 

Chairs are generally meant to roll, elevate, lower, lean back, and adjust following the range of available adjustments designed into your chair. 

All of these moving elements are normally lubricated at the manufacturer using machine oil, silicone lubricant, graphite, or another lubricant compound.

Various causes can cause this lubricant to wear off over time as your chair is utilized. The most important factor is one's age. Over time, lubrication can dry out, and repeated action can push it out of the way and to the sides. 

Dust and filth, as well as tiny metal or plastic shavings from the parts rubbing together, can clog the oil. Friction might also deplete the lubrication supply. All of this means that your chair will lose its lubrication over time.

Second, fasteners or screws are loosening. The leg equipment and the back of the chair are both secured to the seat pan by screws. 

Other screws or bolts may be used to secure the lumbar support or headrest to the chair's back. Depending on the chair's style, armrests may be mounted to the seat pan or the back.

Over time, repeated actions will loosen screws. This can be seen in a variety of fasteners: nails loosen, screws loosen, pins wiggle loose, and so on. Because chairs are frequently intended for self-assembly, you will find a basic assortment of screws and nuts.

These fasteners can loosen over time, which can result in squeaking in two ways. The first is that when you sit or recline in the chair, the fastener-held section grinds against the screw, causing the squeak. 

The other is when the two components that are kept together rub against each other in a way that the screw is not supposed to, generating a squeak.

Squeaks in an office chair, gaming chair, or other wheeled chair are usually caused by loose bolts, which are the number one or two most prevalent causes. 

This is why the most common advice for dealing with a squeaky chair is to tighten all of the screws and hope for the best.

Third, components are deteriorating and bending or rubbing against one another. Sometimes your screws or bolts are still secure in situ, but the looseness is due to the wear and tear on the parts themselves. 

Metal can corrode and dissolve over time, plastic can loosen or wear out, and wood can splinter or compress with time. Whatever material your chair is constructed of it will most likely wear out with time, especially in areas where there is a lot of repetitive tension and wear.

There is not much you can do to stop a chair from squeaking when two pieces wear out. It is possible to replenish the lubricant and tighten the screws, but plastic and metal cannot be restored.

Fourth, moisture and other substances in the environment cause metal parts to rust. Metal frames are common in mid-to-high-end office and gaming chairs. Some are constructed of aluminum, while others are built of steel, and yet others are made of other metals. 

Your metal may corrode or wear away over time. Rust is a problem with certain metals, especially those that include iron, such as steel. Aluminum can also corrode, which is why it is normally coated, but the coating can scrape or wear away with time.

A squeak might be the least of your worries when this happens. When the structure of a chair begins to deteriorate, it might become unsafe, either as a hazard for coming apart or as something more.

Fifth, the chair is progressively breaking down due to repeated tension. Sitting, standing, leaning back, adjusting the height, and other repetitive activities can wear out every aspect of your chair. 

Seat pans can splinter and fracture, plastic can wear out or crack, wood can splinter and crack, and metal can flex and break; see a pattern here?

Your chair will squeak more as it deteriorates over time. Some squeaks can be repaired, but others are unfixable.

Identifying Where the Squeak Comes From

You must first determine the source of the squeak before attempting to repair a squeaky office chair. 

To get the squeaking sounds, have them swivel back and forth, lean back, raise, and lower the chair, or do whatever else is necessary. Keep your eyes and ears open and search for the source of the squeak.

The squeak usually comes from the chair's base, around the screws that keep it together. If that is not the case, the spring tension that maintains the back upright, which squeaks when reclining back and straightening up, is usually the culprit. You should also inspect the spring to see whether it needs to be cleaned, lubricated, or replaced.

If the squeak does not appear to be coming from a joint or the spring tensioner, the materials themselves may need to be examined. In chairs with a wooden seat pan, the wood may deteriorate over time, and a slight crack might cause the chair to squeak.

How to Repair a Noisy Office Chair

Finding the source of a squeaky office chair, gaming chair, or other chair is critical to its repair. Some may be loose, while others may appear to be tight but maybe tightened up with another half-turn or so.

Make sure you get all of the fasteners, including the ones that keep the back in place, the ones that support the lumbar cushion, the ones that hold the arms in place, and any additional fasteners you can locate. 

This includes the spring, any adjustment point, and the wheels, among other points where a chair might be lubricated. In some circumstances, the connection between the gas cylinder and the chair can also be lubricated. 

Before doing this, you may wish to consult the chair's owner's manual, both to determine where to lubricate and what kind of lubricant to use. In most cases, an oil or silicone spray is the best solution.

Spraying lubrication into the squeaky places will usually stop the squeak for a while, but the squeak will return after the fresh lubricant wears off. 

For the greatest results, you may need to physically disassemble and clean the chair before lubricating it. A complete cleaning, which includes cleaning all of the screws, can lengthen the life of a chair, but it is time-consuming.

You can also use machine oil to lubricate the screws. This will not reduce their effectiveness in holding the chair together, but it will offer enough lubricant to avoid a squeak if they loosen again.

Is it Time to Replace Your Chair?

Office chairs are subjected to a lot of abuse. Long periods of usage can wear them out, so rather than trying to identify and remedy a squeak, it is probably best to get a new chair.

If tightening the screws on a chair is all it takes to fix it, that is fantastic. Replacement parts might be difficult to obtain and install, and they can be prohibitively expensive.

Office chairs should be replaced on a semi-regular basis, although the length of time they last will be determined by the chair's quality and brand. A low-cost chair may only last 1-2 years, whereas a high-end chair may last 10 years or more with minor maintenance.

Consider chairs with higher quality materials, better fasteners, and better lubrication when it is time to replace your chair. FlexiSpot has a large selection of ergonomic office chairs. Hurry and get the Ergonomic Office Chair OC3B!