Can Office Chairs Explode?

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Last updatedLast updated: April 11, 2021
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Offices usually have ergonomic chairs that are designed for comfort and allow you to sit in one place for extended hours without feeling fatigued. If that is the case, then how can office chairs explode?

The notoriety of office chairs as explosives started after YouTuber PewDiePie made a video on exploding chairs. The first person to experience this was a Chinese woman who was dying her hair, sitting on a computer chair that exploded and ended up seriously injuring the woman.

So, technically office chairs can potentially explode. However, it is a rare occurrence. The reason why this may happen is owed to the gas cylinders that are present in the height adjustment feature of office chairs. These gas cylinders are prone to explosion, but the manufacturing protocols and regulations ensure that this does not happen.

No matter how rare an event, the knowledge of it makes us worry that what if someday, while we’re engrossed in work, the chair under us just explodes! To put your mind to ease, this article will discuss the functioning of the perpetrator in the discussion, i.e., the gas cylinders in office chairs and why office chairs explode.

How Do Pneumatic Cylinders Work?

Can Office Chairs Explode?The main culprit behind office chair explosions is the pneumatic gas cylinder, so let’s see what exactly happens that makes it explode. This cylinder is located inside the rod that makes the base of an office chair. It is present in most ergonomic, gaming, and traditional office chairs. Its main purpose is that of adjustment.

Since ergonomic and gaming chairs are all about comfort, they allow customization that helps you find the best angle for sitting. This customization comes in the form of a height adjustment mechanism that allows users to adjust the height of the seat according to their desk or gaming table. Considering the technicalities, the gas cylinder exerts pressure to allow this adjustment, and when the canister is compressed, there is energy produced that can at times be an onset of an explosion.

Let’s consider in detail how office chairs and the pneumatic cylinders inside them actually work.

We don’t really pay much attention to the science behind our actions when we are adjusting a chair to find the best position. The pneumatic system, functioning beneath the plastic rod at the base of the chair, contains springs that are coiled together with the aid of compressed nitrogen gas. The gas allows the pressure that creates enough power to lift or lower the weight of the chair. This part of a chair requires lubrication that allows fluid adjustments. Now let’s really get into the real science that details the inner workings of a pneumatic cylinder.

  1. First, there is the presence of nitrogen gas that is inside the pneumatic cylinder. This gas allows pressure for adjustment, so when you press the height modification lever, this gas activates the springs’ coils inside the cylinder.
  2. Then, there is resultant energy disbursed by the previous action. This energy creates heat inside the cylinder that happens due to friction between the spring coils. Here, we consider the role of lubrication. Lubricants prevent the cylinder from getting overheated from the heat energy.
  3. Finally, the lever pushes the pressurized interior of the cylinder, enabling users to adjust the height of the chair.

We normally remain unaware of the functioning of the gas cylinder because we do not directly interact with it. All we do is manipulate the lever to move the chair’s seat up and down. However, this can also be potentially dangerous because we don’t pay attention to when the gas cylinder requires replacement or lubrication.

Are They Dangerous?

The word explosion itself is scary since it is associated with destruction. It literally means violently shattering or loud combustion resulting from high pressure. A common feature of explosions is that the force shatters and scatters things in all directions, causing not just the explosive material but also the surrounding items and people considerable damage.

All potentially explosive items are dangerous, which is why we are told to be careful near gas cylinders. However, when it comes to the explosion of chairs, they do not tend to explode unless they have an explosive interior.

The stories about exploding office chairs circulating social media have scared people to use gaming and office chairs, to the extent that they are afraid of even chairs that tend to collapse under the weight of items placed on them. This fear cannot be called completely irrational. However, there are some things you can do to ease your worry and start trusting office chairs again.

Overloading a chair can cause it to collapse. So you should abide by the instructions that come with the chair when you purchase it and refrain from placing too much weight on it.

Coming on to the danger of office chairs, be assured that they are not inherently dangerous. The gas cylinders, on the other hand, can be potentially dangerous if they explode.

An office chair explosion can be a dangerous event, especially if there are people present in the room, or worse, sitting on the chair. Such explosions send small fragments, including dangerous screws and bolts, flying in all directions. When these items hit a person with full force, they can cause serious injuries.

What Are the Reasons For Office Chair Explosions?

You should also consider other reasons that might be the cause for office chairs to explode:

  • Defective Models or Hazardous Pieces: Sometimes, manufacturers can be responsible for hazardous pieces or models of office chairs. They can make faulty chairs for cost-cutting reasons that end up being extremely dangerous for users.
  • Using Regular Air in Gas Cylinders:This is one of the biggest cost-cutting tactics that are used by manufacturers. This dishonesty is a violation of safety measures that all companies are to abide by, and not doing so can result in serious repercussions for buyers. Using regular air for pressurizing office chairs causes the interior of the cylinder to get rusty from constant friction. Over time, the rust can damage the cylinder, causing leakage of gas that eventually leads to an explosion.
  • Lack of Safety Standards:Other times, the safety standards imposed on manufacturers are inadequate. These standards are to be imposed by the government, and when the quality and safety specifications are compromised, the production becomes a little cheaper. You may save some money buying an office chair from these manufacturers, but the risk of the explosion will not be worth the discount.
  • User Abuse or Carelessness:Sometimes, it is not the manufacturer’s fault, but the user’s own carelessness. Extensive abuse of the chair can cause the cylinder to explode no matter how good the quality. When heavyweight is placed on the chair, it damages the cylinder. Other times there can be direct damage to the gas canister that can lead to an explosion.
Be careful not to let your kids jump on your office chair.

How to Avoid Explosions?

Now that you know the reasons for the office chair gas cylinder explosions, you can be more careful while using the chair. You can look out for signs of damages or faults in your office chair. There are some things you can do to avoid any harmful incidents. The best way to avoid explosions is to look for an office or gaming chair with certain features and make sure the chair you decide to buy checks all the boxes.

Buy Chairs from Reputable Brands

As we discussed, one of the main reasons why office chairs explode is due to manufacturing faults, whereby certain companies use cost-saving shortcuts to produce cheap office chairs.

Luckily, there are several manufacturers who value their integrity and customers’ safety and therefore make safe chairs that are tested against the quality standards. You can buy superior quality office chairs that also have massage features to keep you relaxed throughout the day.

Don’t let the fear of exploding chairs keep you from buying a new office chair because if you get it from a reputable brand, you will not have to worry about this issue. If you are looking for a new comfortable chair for your office, you can consider this ergonomic home office chair by BackMassage that offers lumbar support and reclining features.

If you are a gamer and spend endless hours in your gaming chair, the exploding chair stories would have surely scared you off from spending too much time in your gaming chair. Well, if you want to continue your passion, you can find some safe and high-quality gaming chairs that have massage features to keep your muscles relaxed even after long hours of gaming.

For such users who have retired their old gaming chairs after the whole exploding chairs fiasco, you can get the expert-recommended KILLABEE Massage Gaming Chair.

Pay Attention to Safety Specifications and Quality

Can Office Chairs Explode?Make sure to read the brochure that comes with the chair before buying. Check whether the company abides by the quality and safety standards of production. Another good way to check for quality is price. If you are unsure whether you can tell the quality of a chair or not, you can compare the prices of office chairs and stray clear of the cheapest ones. You can read reviews and expert recommendations online before making your purchase.

Check the Height Adjustment Function

Since the height adjustment mechanism is what causes office chairs to explode, it is safe to see how the chair is manufactured and what adjustment mechanism it uses. Even though most chairs use gas cylinders, not all of them are unsafe. If you are still unsure, you can look for chairs that do not use a pressurized gas cylinder for height adjustment. You can buy accent chairs to avoid using office chairs with potentially explosive gas cylinders.

Final Thoughts

The purpose of this article was to assure you that there are safe office chairs that you can buy. We cannot ignore the fact that some office chairs can explode, but it is worth noting that these are the cheapest ones and that the odds of an office chair explosion are extremely narrow.

Hopefully, this article will help you avoid falling into the trap of buying a poorly manufactured office or gaming chair. You can incorporate the careful behaviors of using an ergonomic office chair that we have listed above, and they will help you maintain the durability of your chair. If you are looking for safe, ergonomic office chairs to avoid buying cheap quality ones, Forbes has shortlisted some of the best office chairs here!

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