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Can an office chair really explode? Is it even possible?

Well, it’s probably the first time you’re hearing about the possibility of office chairs exploding. You’re right to be worried. When PewDiePie, one of the most famous YouTubers and comedian talked about exploding chairs in one of his videos, everyone wanted to know why and how such a dangerous thing can happen. In fact, just a few hours after he talked about it, the searches for the topic skyrocketed on Google Trends.

Although the incidents of exploding chairs are incredibly rare with only 3 recorded cases in the past, it’s not really something that you should be very much concerned about. The current manufacturing standards are incredibly strict so it’s pretty unlikely to happen.

Before we talk about office chair explosions and what causes them, let’s talk a little bit about those incidents

The 3 Known Cases of Office Chair Explosions

office chair rocket
  • The first story is about a 65-year old man who was severely injured when the chair he was sitting on suddenly exploded in 2008, ejecting a 150mm steel piston with such great force that it ended up hitting the ceiling.
  • Another recorded incident in the following year (2009) was of a 14-year-old boy from the province of Shandong in China. The boy was reportedly killed by an exploding chair.
  • The last reported office chair explosion case was recorded in 2013 where a 24-year old woman from Fujian, China survived a serious chair explosion. According to the story, the chair she was sitting on suddenly exploded and sent pieces of metal into her body. The metal pieces were from the piston in her chair. According to media reports in China, emergency surgery doctors were able to remove the chair piston fragments of plastics, pieces of steel, and a dozen screws from her body.

Sounds scary, isn’t it?

But despite these 3 unfortunate rare incidents, you shouldn’t worry about anything because as stated earlier, most office chair manufacturers have strict manufacturing standards that make these chairs not only comfortable to sit on but also completely safe.

How Can an Office Chair Explode?

All three explosion incidents were a result of cheaply made gas spring cylinders using pressurized air instead of the industry-standard Nitrogen Gas. [1]

To better understand how this happens, you should know that there are three types of air-lift chairs in the market. They include hydraulic pressure, mechanical, and gas pressure.

office chair gas spring

A large percentage of the chairs in the market are gas-pressured. However, in a bid to reduce manufacturing costs, some unscrupulous manufacturers fill the gas springs with regular air. Investigations have confirmed that this practice was the most likely cause of these explosions.

Understanding How Pressurized Gas Chairs Work?

The gas spring located at the base of the chair make chair seat height adjustments easy. The gas spring consists of springs that are coiled together using compressed gas.

These office chair cylinders create enough pressure inside the sealed chamber to allow you to easily set the seat to your preferred height. Because up and down movement creates a lot of heat due to excessive friction, the springs are lubricated with oil to ensure smooth and quiet movement.

A majority of these chairs work pretty well and in most cases, users never have to interact with the gas spring.

The pressurized gas spring is safely designed and manufactured according to the set standards so all you have to do is set the preferred seat height and get to work. Usually, there is absolutely no chance of an office chair explosion.

The few mentioned incidents were caused by dishonest manufacturers who tried to cut costs by using air instead of industry-standard nitrogen gas. Because regular air contains a large amount of oxygen, the air in the gas spring ends up becoming rusted. With time, the gas spring may rust to the point where leaks occur, thus causing explosions.

Other possible causes of gas cylinders explosion include;

  • Extensive Abuse: Simply sitting on a high-quality office chair is less likely to cause an explosion. However, when exposed to abusive conditions abuse, even the best gas spring chair can easily explode and cause some serious damage or injuries. For example, someone intentionally hitting or puncturing a gas spring piston increases the risk of an explosion significantly. Another cause is suddenly dropping heavy weight on the chair which may exert too much pressure inside the gas cylinder, thus causing an explosion. Jumping up and down in an office chair can also cause it to blow up. It’s less likely but it could happen.
  • Poor Manufacturing Standards– As stated earlier, some manufacturers try to cut construction costs by using air instead of nitrogen gas. The 3 known explosion incidents are known to have been caused by this practice. The good news is that a majority of the office chairs in many parts of the world such as the US, Europe, and Asia are built according to the set industry standards. The governments in these areas enforce strict safety and quality standards during manufacturing so the chances of an explosion are low. Still, it’s highly advisable that you purchase office only from reputable manufacturers to avoid the risks involved.

How to Avoid Office Chair Explosion

can office chairs explode broken example

As stated earlier, the only reason why you don’t always hear about office chairs exploding is that most meet the set of safety standards to ensure they are safe and effective to use.

They also undergo rigorous testing so there is nothing to worry about.

Of course, the risks still remain if you don’t handle the chair according to instructions.

All in all, to be on the safe side, always purchase a high-quality office chair and make sure it’s from a reputable manufacturer.

That said, here are some useful tips on how you can stay safe from explosions.

Can Office Chairs Explode? (How to Prevent Office Chair Explosion)

 Here are some important safety measures to take to ensure office chair safety:

1. Only Purchase Office Chairs from Reputable Manufacturers

Avoid cheap office chair brands at all costs. By this, I don’t mean the price. There are plenty of high-quality brands out there. We are talking about the quality of construction. As mentioned earlier, some manufacturers take shortcuts during the manufacturing process in order to cut manufacturing costs and this ends up causing serious accidents like those we’ve mentioned above.

The good news is that most manufacturers follow strict quality and safety standards during the construction of gas cylinders, which is why explosion incidents are incredibly rare.

If you’re ordering on Amazon, make sure you’re purchasing a unit that is not only from a reputable manufacturer but also one with high safety ratings.

Check out some of the best chairs when you’re on a budget.

2. Use the Chair the Right Way

Never jump on a fully raised office chair. As an adult, this is something you would probably never think about doing. However, there may be instances where you may decide to try out such a stunt. It’s not worth the risk. If working from home, warn your kids about jumping on your chair.

You should also avoid deliberately hitting or puncturing your chair’s gas cylinder. The damage can cause it to explode the moment someone sits on it since the gas inside the cha may start leaking.

3. Avoid Tampering with the Gas Spring

Sometimes, older office chairs may start sinking without any warning. A sinking chair is often a result of an old and faulty gas spring. Although replacing the cylinder is easy, you must follow the given instructions to avoid problems later on. And if you feel you don’t have the confidence to replace it, get someone else or a professional to do it. You don’t want to mess with some of the parts when removing the cylinder.

Also, avoid tampering with the cylinder, no matter how curious you’re. Things can get ugly really quickly if something goes wrong.

dissemled office chair spring
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4. Replace a Faulty Gas Spring Cylinder

A faulty gas spring doesn’t mean that the chair will eventually explode. The only issue you’re possibly going to experience from this is the chair sinking, But still, you just never know what may happen when the gas starts leaking and the cylinder doesn’t function properly any longer.

Replacing the gas spring will not only reduce the chances of an explosion happening but will also increase the longevity of your beloved chair. You can purchase a genuine replacement part from your chair’s official manufacturer.

Can Gaming Chairs Explode? Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the Chances of a Chair Exploding?

There are millions of office chairs out there you’ll hardly hear about any one of them exploding, well, except for the 3 incredibly rare cases. Therefore, the chances of a chair exploding are probably one in a million. Gaming chair explosions are also rare.

Do Office Chairs Have Compressed Air?

Few chairs in the market use compressed or pressurized air. The majority use pressurized nitrogen gas. As we’ve mentioned earlier, chairs that use pressurized air to activate the height adjustability mechanism are not safe and should therefore be avoided. That’s why it’s only recommended that the chair you buy is from a reputable brand.

How Much Weight Can an Office Chair Hold?

The weight limit of the majority of office and gaming chairs is 250 pounds. These chairs are mainly designed for the average-sized person. However, since there are no one-size-fits-all chairs, manufacturers also produce office chairs with a higher weight capacity specifically designed for big and tall people. Some heavy-duty office and gaming chairs can support users weighing between 300 lbs and 500 lbs.

What is the Life Expectancy of an Office Chair?

A standard office chair can last anywhere between 1 to 10 years. However, a sturdy ergonomic chair that is built with premium materials can last up to 10 years or more.

 Can an Office Chair Kill You?

An office chair can only kill you if it explodes while seated on it. But as we’ve established, the chances of a chair exploding are very low, so you don’t have to worry about your chair killing you one day.

Conclusion – Is It Possible?

Yes, an office chair can explode. It’s quite a rare occurrence. To avoid such an occurrence, make sure you only purchase the best office chair brand. You should also replace a faulty gas cylinder and ensure the chair does not undergo extensive abuse as this can increase the risk of exploding.

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