How To Fix A Recliner's Footrest (Step-by-Step Guide)

Ryan Womeldorf
by Ryan Womeldorf

A recliner can be the ultimate relaxation destination within one’s own home. Unlike a couch or a standard chair, which remains stationary, a recliner does just that: reclines. From time to time, however, the recliner footrest may stop working. Instead of tossing it away when it stops working, there is a fix that can be implemented.

Remove the bolts on your recliner’s footrest with an adjustable wrench and pull the spring out. Unscrew the bolts in the spring housing, insert a new spring, and carefully tighten it with a wrench. Put all of the bolts back in the recliner, tighten them with your adjustable wrench, and test out the footrest.

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Step 1: Check Your Warranty

The quickest and easiest way to fix a busted recliner footrest can be through the warranty. If your warranty is still valid, you may be able to contact the manufacturer and have a fix provided by a technician free of charge.

Another reason to check your warranty is because attempting to fix it yourself can potentially void the warranty. Take the extra step to check on your warranty and move forward accordingly. Your recliner shouldn’t break often but having a warranty to address any of the issues can be invaluable in the long run.

Step 2: Check for Loose Screws

After checking your warranty, the next thing to do is to look for any potentially loose screws. On most recliners, the mechanism that moves the footrest is underneath.

  • Flip over the chair. Start by flipping the chair over so that you can easily access the reclining mechanism.
  • Look for loose screws. Loose or missing screws are a common culprit in the failure to recline. Check the mechanism to see if there are any missing or stripped screws.
  • Replace and lubricate. Should you find any missing or damaged screws, replace them. It’s also a good idea to lubricate the screws and tighten any existing ones down so that they fit snugly into their sockets.
  • Check the footrest. When the screws have been addressed, flip the chair back over and try again. More often than not, this should alleviate the non-reclining issue. If it doesn’t, you can then move on to other troubleshooting methods.

Step 3: Proper Lubrication

A recline that is working properly will have a smooth movement going up and down. Should the recliner get stuck in certain positions, it could be due to a lack of proper lubrication. We’ll need to start by flipping the chair over as we did in the previous step.

  • Remove the screws. Locate the mechanism again, removing all of the screws. Make sure that you bag them or keep them in a safe spot to avoid losing any.
  • Spray lubricant. Hold the frame against the mechanism and spray all of the joints and sockets with some sort of lubricant. Make sure that you also spray down the screws to ensure that they are properly lubricated.
  • Remove excess and reassemble. Gently wipe down the screws and components that have excess oil on them before reassembling the mechanism. Clean and reassemble before flipping the recliner back into the upright position. In most cases, the recliner should be working smoothly once again.

Step 4: Adjust the Mechanism

The recliner has to be able to move freely sticking or hanging. When it gets stuck, the mechanism needs to be adjusted. Flip the recliner over and find the mechanism system (it looks like a ratchet of sorts). There will be a bar attached to this ratchet; remove it.

After removing the ratchet, you should notice that the footrest moves freely. If this is the case, the ratchet is the problem and will have to be replaced entirely. This may take a few days to get from the manufacturer and you can simply replace the old one accordingly.

What Would Cause the Mechanism to Break?

Though constructed of a steady metal, the footrest mechanism isn’t impervious to breaking. Figuring out why it stopped working can help to locate the problem far easier. Moreover, it will give you a better idea of what to avoid so as to not break it again in the future.

There are a few common causes to keep an eye out for. All of them can be avoided fairly easily, so exercise a little bit of caution when using the recliner footrest.

The Recliner is Old

Father Time gets the best of everything at some point or another. If your recliner footrest isn’t working properly, it can simply be a case of the recliner being old. Over time, screws can loosen or wear out, failing to work as they should.

Additionally, older recliners can experience worn and rusted components that limit the effectiveness of the recliner. While there are generally fixes that can be implemented, sometimes there will be no choice but to simply replace the entire thing.

Slamming on the Footrest

Even though the mechanism and other components of the recliner are made of metal, they aren’t free from damage or breaking. Slamming down on the recliner footrest, especially doing so on a regular basis, is the most consistent way to damage the mechanism.

Slamming down on the footrest puts a lot of stress on the mechanism and it will eventually stop working if slammed down upon enough. Closing the footrest with caution is the best idea and should keep your recliner working for longer.

Rusted Mechanism

Depending on the area in which you live, moisture can become a major issue for any recliner. In particularly humid areas, it can be difficult to stay ahead of those moisture issues. Likewise, excess dust or dirt could play a role in the mechanism not working.

It is a good idea to flip the chair over and wipe down the mechanism from time to time. Letting dust, dirt, and moisture build up can lead to rusting of the mechanism. When rust sets in, it can damage the mechanism and require replacement. Wipe things down and relubricate it to provide extra longevity.

How Do You Fix a Recliner Spring?

One of the major components of the reclining mechanism is the spring. And just like any other component within the recliner, it can wear down and ultimately fail over time. The good news is that it only takes a replacement spring and a few minutes to replace it.

  • Flip the chair over. This is the first step for any fix. It is far easier to get to the reclining mechanism this way and will allow for an easier fix. Locate the retaining bolts; these hold the recliner spring in its place, and you should see two on each side.
  • Loosen the bolts. After locating each of the retaining bolts, you will need to loosen them all. Be sure to not remove them completely until all four have been loosened and are totally ready to be taken out.
  • Removing the bolts. You may need a helper to hold the spring as you take out the retaining bolts. Lift the spring up from the recliner and place it down on the floor right-side up. You can then use the adjustable wrench to take the bolts holding the footrest to the spring out.
  • Attach the new recliner spring. With the old one out, you can now attach the footrest to the new spring. Start each of the four bolts by hand, beginning at the front of the new spring. After starting them properly, you can tighten them down using your adjustable wrench.
  • Tighten the spring into the frame. With the new spring ready, hold it onto place on the recliner. Start all the bolts, attaching it to the frame of the recliner. Tighten each of the bolts into place securely and you’re ready to go.

When Should a Broken Recliner be Replaced?

More often than not, repairing a broken recliner is a simple and somewhat cheap fix. It is typically due to a damaged component or even simply a matter of damaged screws. Small fixes like that can be addressed in short order and without having to spend much money.

But there may come a time where fixing the recliner comes into serious question. When a recliner is particularly old, there will need to be a decision made about whether or not to fix it.

If your recliner is seriously old, consider replacing it entirely. Depending on your model, it may not be a cheap decision, but those minor repairs can be made for so long.

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Why is my Electric Recliner not Working?

There are electric recliners that operate with the touch of a button. The only issue with that those electronic components can break down over time. They may also be slightly more complicated to repair depending on the issue at hand.

The most common reason for an electric recliner failing to work revolves around loose in-line plugs. Most of the time, the fix is as simple as reconnecting the in-line plugs and using something like a pin or clamp to secure them properly. If the in-line plugs are damaged, you will need to order new parts before fixing the problem.

Ryan Womeldorf
Ryan Womeldorf

Ryan Womeldorf has more than a decade of experience writing. He loves to blog about construction, plumbing, and other home topics. Ryan also loves hockey and a lifelong Buffalo sports fan.

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