Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Chair Saver

This isn't normally the type of product that I review, but it actually does fit into the theme of the blog, I promise.

Several months ago I bought a new office chair, because we wanted to move mine to the living room to replace the broken one there. After trying out dozens of chairs, I decided on the one that was most comfortable, and that was suppose to be heavy duty. After a while, however, the cylinder that allows the height adjustment began to fail. I found myself having to get up to re-adjust the height several times each day. As the frequency increased I became more aggravated with it, until finally deciding that I had to do something.

I looked for solutions online, and did find a few suggestions. The common suggestion was to replace the cylinder, which can sometimes cost as much as a new chair, but not in the case of a fairly expensive chair like mine. My concern, though, was that the new cylinder would fail just as quickly as the original one, which was not something I wanted to deal with.

Other DIY solutions required doing things that could damage the cylinder further, or even make it so that it could never be adjusted again. One of those suggestions was to adjust the chair to the desired height, drill a hole through it, and insert a bolt to prevent it from moving. While this should definitely fix the problem, I couldn't bring myself to doing something that would all but guarantee the chair would not be suitable for donating or reselling in the future.

Likewise, I was having a hard time justifying buying a new chair, since the old one still worked fine, aside from the cylinder. Fortunately I found a solution that was priced low enough that I thought it was worth trying. The ChairSaver is an incredibly simple product that promises to work on almost any chair, requiring no tools and less than a minute to install. It seemed gimmicky to me, which normally causes me to lose interest in a product. If it did work, however, it would be a simple, fairly inexpensive, solution to my problem.

Ultimately I decided to order a ChairSaver kit to see for myself if it would work. The kit consists of 5 plastic rings that simply clip around the cylinder. Four of the rings are one inch tall, and the other is one half inch, allowing for heights between one half inch and four and a half inches to be set. Once the desired number of rings are in place, the chair cannot drop below that level, regardless of the state of the cylinder itself.

My chair required three of the one inch rings for my desired height. After installing, which required very little time, as promised, I sat down in the chair and was pleased that it did not sink. It has been a couple of weeks since installing the ChairSaver, and I haven't had to adjust the chair once. The only downside is that the chair now has no give to it, aside from the padding in the seat, so makes it a bit firmer. I had never before noticed how much the cylinder impacted the feel. This is a minor inconvenience, however, and likely would have barely been noticed if not for the fact that I still occasionally get sore from the injury I sustained back in the winter when I fell on ice. Another downside for some is the fact that the chair is no longer easily adjustable. If multiple people share the same chair, and each require a different height, they may find it annoying to remove or install rings to get their desired height. At least adjusting the height is possible, however, unlike with some of the other solutions I saw suggested.

Yes, this post is about a specific product to solve a specific problem. However, the thinking can be applied elsewhere. Just because an item is broken, doesn't mean it has to be thrown out, or reused in a different way. Often items can be repaired for a reasonable price, and even when that isn't possible, you may find that others have developed creative solutions for the very problem you're trying to solve. Throwing an item away should be a last resort, even if the item is broken.

Edit: Within a week of posting this, I started thinking my review was a bit premature. The clips began to separate, so that one was able to slide over another, allowing the chair to lower. Just when I was about to give up, Andrea asked if I had thoroughly read the instructions, which I had not done. it turns out that there were special instructions for user above a certain weight, that I had not followed. The instructions suggested to wrap duct tape around the assembly once the clips were in place, to prevent them from separating. Once I did this, the chair performed well for a couple more weeks, before it happened again. I re-applied duct tape, taking care to do a better job of it this time, and am hopeful that it will hold for longer. Even if I do have to reapply every two weeks, that is preferable to the other options I was facing.

Update: Shortly after the last edit the problem with the Chair Saver became worse. Eventually it was evident that duct tape wasn't going to be sufficient to correct the problem. I suspect this was because I allowed the rings to lose some of their strength by not applying the tape from the start. I gave up and threw the kit in the trash.

I recently had another chair start sinking and decided to try the Chair Saver again, this time applying duct tape when first installing the kit. I have written about the new kit here, and will post updates there as time passes.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Jonathan,

    You are covered under our 5 year Chair Saver warranty, so please send us an email and we will send you out the new version of the kit free of charge. It is made of a new material that is much stronger with a higher weight limit.