Can The Gas Cylinders In Office Chairs Really Explode?

Gas cylinders used in office chairs do have the potential to explode if:

  • regular air is used in the cylinder instead of nitrogen
  • the chair is sourced from a country with lax safety standards
  • the cylinder experiences continual heavy impacts

However, fear not, you don’t have to walk into your office every morning scared for your life as the probability that the chair will explode is very small indeed. Even for poorly made models.

What causes gas cylinders in office chairs to explode?

In a standard office chair the gas cylinder consists of two parts.

The top part is known as the gas spring, and it holds pressurised nitrogen gas and oil to lubricate the moving parts. This part of the cylinder contains the ‘actuator’, or the switch that allows you to adjust the chair’s height.

On the bottom of the cylinder is the piston. This is the part that moves your office chair up or down.

It’s the manufacture of this cylinder that the most risk of the chair failing is introduced.

Image by Andranik Hakobyan on Canva Pro

Using regular air instead of nitrogen to cut costs

There are many reasons why nitrogen makes for an excellent pressurised gas. For office chairs the main one is that it maintains a constant  pressure that doesn’t change much over time. Secondly, it also helps to prevent oxidation and rust. 

Not all manufacturers follow the safety measures they’re supposed to and some companies may try to cut costs by pressurising their office chair cylinders with regular air instead of nitrogen. After all it’s abundant and cheap, so why not?

The problem here is that air contains oxygen, which is what causes metal to rust to occur over time. In an older chair, the pressurised cylinder may degrade to the point where there’s a sudden release of the pressurised gas.

Poor manufacturer quality control

In many parts of the world like Europe, North America, and some parts of Asia, governments enforce uncompromising safety and quality standards upon manufacturing industries.

However, should your office chair be assembled in a country where there are no such standards exist there is likely an increased risk the cylinder will fail.

Extensive abuse

Even if your office chair has the highest-quality gas cylinder installed onto it, it may still explode after a lot of abuse.

A quick search on Youtube will show you that these chairs will explode dramatically if you drop a heavy weight onto them. The same may happen if someone was to hit or puncture the gas canister deliberately.

Of course, the odds of someone deliberately sabotaging your chair this way is extremely low. Still, anyone who jumps up and down on an office chair with a gas cylinder increases the risk it will explode significantly.

Photo by Laura Davidson on Unsplash

How to identify a safe office chair

So, how does someone like you or I minimise or eliminate the risk of an exploding gas cylinder on an office chair?

Well you can start by being a well-informed buyer, and here are a few other things you should consider:

  1. Quality – The first thing to pay attention to is the overall quality of the office chair. If it comes from a reputable brand that follows strict quality and safety requirements, then you have very little need for concern. If it’s an unfamiliar brand read the label or brochure closely and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
  2. Safety – Even if you see that an office chair is of the highest quality, be sure to look closer at the safety standards that they abide by. Some manufacturers might be all style but no substance; they may have a beautiful looking chair but use inferior materials that wouldn’t pass a safety check.
  3. Price – If the cost of the chair is too good to be true, it probably is. Some sellers might offer chairs at a reasonable discount, but if that discount is too steep, there might be a negative reason for it. So, be cautious!

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