Troubleshooting Power Recliners

With an average of 7500 hits per month since 2012, this is the most viewed article about power recliner issues on the internet for a good reason; the information is good and helpful.

Power recliners have become very popular. Most retailers have them on the floor in various shapes and sizes, and most share the same electrical components. Many things can cause these to stop working such as Power surges, electrical storms, overload, and the mechanism cutting the wiring. If your recliner has stopped working, there are a few things you should check before calling your retailer’s Customer Service line only to wait a week before someone is dispatched to your home

1- If the recliner stops working when it is in the open position, an in-line plug may have come loose. Simple solution here: 80% of my service calls have been resolved within 5 minutes by doing this. There are a few connections where the wires can come loose because they join together like a drop cord. If you can lay on the floor with a flash light, trace the wiring that goes around the base to make sure all the connections are tight – even the connections at the back that plug into the motor. Sometimes the movement of the mechanism will cause tension on the electrical wires and pull them apart. If you find one that was loose- reconnect it and wrap the connectors with black electrical tape to prevent this from happening again.

                 1.1- Reset it if necessary. I have recommended this many times while talking to someone on the phone, and it has worked. If someone who is larger than the chair is rated for uses it, or if it is opened and closed many times in a row… the motor can shut down from overload. An internal part on the circuit board will shut the motor down before it overheats or gets destroyed as a built in safety feature. Check this first: Some older model recliners will have a small hole between the Open and Close buttons where you can insert the end of a paper clip to perform a reset. If the plugs are all connected (see above) and nothing seems to be out of place, you can try a “hard reset” by unplugging the power for 2 minutes. The transformer will have an electric charge for quite a while after it is unplugged since their purpose is to hold that charge after stepping down the voltage to keep a consistent operating wattage. Unplugging it for 10 seconds will NOT be enough. Be patient and wait the 2 minutes even though it seems excessive. Check your owner’s manual to see if there are any reset options if all else has failed. A reset has worked for many people after they checked everything else.

2- Always plug these into a surge protector. This should be the first thing you do when you bring it home, but if you haven’t done it yet, then do it now before a very minor power surge kills your frail transformer. Using a surge protector is cheap insurance. The transformer (a little black box that connects to the power cord) steps the voltage down from your home’s 110/220 AC outlet down to low voltage DC current. An electrical storm or simple power surge can fry the transformer. Most have a small green light that should be on. If it is not, then your motor is not getting power. Once you verify the outlet is OK (plug in a table lamp to check it), you will need to order or replace the transformer; not the motor. If you have a sofa that has a transformer for each side, and one side works, simply swap transformers to verify that one is bad. If so, they are available on and all you need to do is search for “power recliner parts”. It is a simple plug, and anyone can fix this. Make sure to compare the on-line picture with the part you are replacing to get the correct cord plug. There is a link for these under the Parts tab on this site.

3- When it stops working in the midst of closing: the mechanism is like a pair of scissors, and can cut the wire into. Sometimes this will cause sparks. It can be fixed by first locating the cut on the wire underneath. Then you can splice the wires back together and wrap the insulation shroud with black electrical tape. Make sure you use zip ties to secure the wire to the frame and away from the mechanism so it does not happen again. This is a low voltage system, so do not worry about splicing the wire if it has been cut. A splice will not cause a fire or a short if done correctly.

If you follow these tips, you may save $100 in labor plus parts by repairing it yourself. A furniture repair tech will most most likely charge for an inspection, and then for ordering parts along with installation on the next visit. You can find a link in the Repair Parts tab to get the pricing for each item shown below (lift motor, wiring, transformer, and remote ).

Warning about purchasing parts: Check around by doing a search. The prices vary greatly. Some sites that seem to specialize in recliners and repairs are a huge RIPOFF. I have seen a La-Z-Boy wand (hand remote) on a site for $88 plus shipping. The same remote on Amazon was almost half price. A simple 2- button switch on the same site was $55, but should not be more than $25. These are Chinese parts that cost less than $5 when purchased in bulk, and can be found for reasonable prices if you look. I like Amazon’s pricing, Customer Service and their guarantee. E-Bay is another good source.

If you are not a Do-It-Yourselfer: Remember that most retailers will offer a 12 month warranty which covers parts and labor. The manufacturer may offer a longer warranty on parts beyond that. Call your retailer’s Customer Service Department to see if you can get it repaired for free if all else fails. Most retailers will send a technician for no charge if the item is under 18 months old and you pressure them to service their product. The manufacturers usually do not have their own service departments or field techs. They will refer you back to a local retailer who carries their product.

Here is an additional video for service technicians, or anyone who has a voltage meter. Each component can be tested to find out exactly which part is not functioning correctly.

Below is a quick video on how to replace a motor… an easy DIY.

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