Saturday August 11, 2012

Harry & Harriet Homeowner Repair Their La-Z-Boy Sofa

Nearly 20 years ago, Rich and I purchased a La-Z-Boy recliner sofa and a pair of recliner chairs with swivel bases. They have held up remarkably well under heavy use from humans and cats. The upholstery still feels and looks good and the frames and mechanisms (with one exception) have been solid.

The sole exception has been the (stage)right foot rest on the couch: it has been having problems in closing for a few years. About 6 months ago, the problem became quite a bit more serious: I was unable to close that footrest, so getting up (particularly without disturbing kitties) became an awkward exercise.

After turning the couch up on its back to inspect it, we discovered that the "lift mechanism" was bent out of shape.

DSCN1350     DSCN1351

Using assorted tools (eg, clamps), Rich did his best to bend the metal back into alignment. However, this didn't really solve the problem, so we braced ourselves for an expensive repair.

Customer Service

However, when we phoned La-Z-Boy Customer Service, we got several pleasant surprises.
  1. The couch has a lifetime warranty for parts.
  2. They would be happy to send us replacement parts.
  3. For completeness, they would send replacement "lift mechanism" parts for the entire couch - not just the one part that was obviously bent.
  4. They would do this free of cost (shipping included).
  5. Have a nice day.

Then came the next surprise - the parts would take a couple of months to arrive because they would need to be specially manufactured, from parts that the plant did not have on hand. Given that this was all free of charge, we didn't quibble. In fact, we were very impressed with La-Z-Boy's attitude.

While we waited, I figured out a "gentle" way to close the footrest. This was a bit awkward, but it worked and didn't put undue stress on the lift mechanism.

We were told to expect the parts at the end of August. In fact, they arrived yesterday (August 10), in a large, heavy (58#) box, delivered by Fed Ex.

DSCN1455     Couch parts


The enclosed instructions were concise but well written: understandable, well-presented, and written in clear, idiomatic English. Actual photographs were used to illustrate the appropriate parts. Overall, the instructions were easy to follow, informative, and helpful.

As technical writers and editors, Rich and I tend to be very demanding about howtos, instructions, etc. More to the point, the couch mechanism is more than a little complicated; we were not looking forward to having to figure out how it worked, how to (dis)assemble it, etc.

Rich removed the seat backs and turned the couch upside down. We then started comparing the instructions to what we saw in the shipment and the couch itself. Once we thought we understood what we needed to do, we got started.

Rich gathered a set of 1/4"-drive tools (eg, Torx T-25 and T-30 tips and assorted handles) and a ratcheting 7/16" box wrench. This was definitely going to be simpler than taking apart a laptop computer!

We then re-read the instructions carefully, discussing the details. We had a few moments where we needed to think a bit (especially if the photograph showed a different arrangement or orientation than the pieces we had on hand).

While we were at it, we looked over the old mechanism, trying to figure out how and why it had failed. The mechanism is attached to the underside of the couch by four screws. One of these screws had fatigued and snapped at some point, allowing the mechanism to distort, bending some internal parts. To prevent a recurrence of this sort of failure, Rich added more screws on all four of the front mounting points.

With that out of the way, the dis-assembly process proved to be surprisingly simple (even when it wasn't all that easy :-). Remove four bolts. Lower the seat assembly, then slide it out and back. Remove four screws and two pins. Pull the lift mechanism up and out. Now you're working on something large but easy to turn and adjust as needed.

Remove the release cable, a bracket, some springs, and an interesting set of movable "arms". Remove eight pairs of bolts and nuts. Place the old mechanism nearby (for reference), then move the new mechanism into place.

Then, slowly and carefully, reverse all steps until... we bolted the seat back into the frame, connected the cable that opens the leg rest, turned the couch over, inserted the seat backs... and tried it out.

No more bent footrest. No difficulty opening or closing the mechanism. No injuries to either member of the amateur couch repair team. We're quite proud of ourselves and extremely pleased with La-Z-Boy.

In Summary:

  • With La-Z-Boy, a "Lifetime Guarantee" means just that!
  • Rich and I are sticklers for good documentation. La-Z-Boy's replacement instructions were some of the best we're ever used.
  • Did I mention the entire set of replacement parts - 58 lbs of complex, precision-built steel parts - was free of charge?
Should we ever need to replace living room couches and chairs, the La-Z-Boy store would be our first stop. We would not hesitate to recommend their products to others.

Harry & Harriet Homeowner Repair Their La-Z-Boy Sofa ( in category Trivial Pursuits ) - posted at Sat, 11 Aug, 14:32 Pacific | «e»

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