My office chair rolls, stops, and lurches. Outside of buying a new chair, how do I solve this problem?

The typical office chair has 5 rollers, one each at the end of an arm that ends at a central hub. There are several factors that can influence the functionality of these rollers:

  • They get tangled with hair, lint, and debris.
  • They either have no bearings or the bearings have become damaged or worn.
  • They have developed cracks or are broken.
  • They require lubrication because they make squealing noises as they turn.
  • They have damaged the hardwood floor or chair pad.

Replacing the chair is not as simple as it sounds and it may not be the best solution for several reasons.

  • The chair is perfectly serviceable and functional and comfortable. The only problem is with the rollers.
  • Discarding the old chair can be a headache.
  • Since new chairs always come disassembled, the assembly process can be problematic.
  • New chairs can be expensive.

The other issue you have to contend with is in almost every case, a new office chair is supplied with inexpensive rollers that will eventually fail because of the same problems you are currently experiencing. Therefore, the best solution generally speaking is to simply replace the rollers/casters. Before you go out and buy replacement casters, you need to take several things into account:

  • How smooth and quiet the rollers should be?
  • Is the roller manufactured from durable material?
  • What is the weight capacity of the roller?
  • Will the rollers be safe and functional on both carpet and hard floors?

Searching for replacement chair rollers that will have the characteristics that will work best is the first step. What will probably end up happening is that you will focus on polyurethane rollerblade style office chair wheels because these are the best all-around replacement casters for office chairs and they will satisfy all of the necessary requirements. They run on ball bearings and are quiet, made from durable polyurethane, can support up to 300 lbs., and work well on hardwood floors and industrial carpeting. The good news is that standard 5/16” stem replacement rollerblade style wheels will fit 98% of all office chairs and the replacement process is a simple operation requiring basic consumer grade mechanical skills and simple hand tools.

  • The first step for replace the rollers is to purchase them. 5 caster sets can be found at Office Owl, Sunnie Dog, Zitriom, Seddox Ideas, Ikea, Clever Production, House of Lords, and Tech Team Products. I chose the Tech Team 76mm Chair Casters available from Amazon because they had great features and a good price.
  • The second step is to turn the chair over and remove the existing rollers. Since the rollers will almost invariably be attached via the grip ring stem method, which features a compressible semi-circular ring that engages a groove on the stem of the caster, the process is fairly simple. Take the blade of a flat head screw driver, put it between the hub of the caster at the point where it fits against one of the radial arms on the bottom of the chair, simply twist the screw driver blade to begin the process of easing the stem out of the socket. If too much resistance is met, the application of a lubricant (Singer acid free sewing machine oil works very well for this purpose) to the stem and allowing it to soak in for a minute will make the process easier. Apply more twisting and/or downward pressure on the screw driver blade, and/or with one hand grab the radial arm and with the other the caster and begin pulling. The caster should disengage from the socket.
  • The final step is to put a little of the lubricant on the stem of the new caster, and simply push it into the socket until it is fully seated. Repeat this process for each one of the other four rollers, turn the chair over, and now you are ready to go.