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What to do if your office chair sinks so that your chin is on your desk

Ever felt let down? I have on a number of occasions, most recently by my trusty desk chair. It can be adjusted up and down. You lift a lever and, if, you’re not sitting on it, it goes up. If you’re sitting on it, it goes down. So you can set the chair seat to your ideal height for it.

Did it let me down? Yes. Office chairs are yet another thing you can’t trust these days. I’d sit on it, at the ideal height, and slowly over about a minute the chair would sink so that eventually my chin was on my desk.

It has a gas strut. That’s what allows it to move up and down. The strut sits under the thing I sit on. Gas can be pressurised and depressurised.  There are often two gas compartmants, above and below a piston. Each gas volume balances the other at the point where you want the piston to stay. You should know by now that pistons in a tube have seals. That’s to stop gas, or liquid, bypassing the piston. My piston has clearly given up on the stopping of any bypassing. It was hard work after all.

What to do? You can buy replacement gas struts, or springs, but that costs money. And the new one will eventually fail. Or you can think of a way round the problem. That’s generally what I try to do.

My favoured seat position is at the top of its travel. Somehow you have to stop the piston sinking slowly to its lowest position. It’s a piston inside a tube. What could be easier than clamping the bottom of the piston so it can’t move and definitely can’t fit inside the tube?

Ever heard of a jubilee clip? Here's one. If I could clamp that to the bottom of the inner tube, that tube couldn’t move. Moreover, that clamp couldn’t fit inside the tube. Potential solution.

But the tube is smooth. How to clamp it so that the tube doesn’t slide through the clip? I decided to get a piece of coarse emery paper, double it in two so that the emery was showing on both side, and put that between the jubilee clip and the inner tube. I cleaned any oil or grease off the tube where I was going to clamp the jubilee clip, tightened the clip, complete with emery paper, around the bottom of the inner tube and job done. It works. The inner tube can’t slide into the outer strut tube and the seat stays at that fixed position. You can change the position of the clip to suit your  own preferred height.

How much is a new strut? Up to £20. How much did my workaround cost me? Nothing. I already had the jubilee clip and the emery paper.