Electric Standing Desk Won’t Work: Here’s Why (+With Solutions)

Cables that don’t fit properly are just one of the reasons an electric standing desk won’t go up. A physical obstruction might also be the reason why your standing desk won’t go up. From too much friction to a power cord that doesn’t fit properly, there are multiple reasons your standing desk can be stuck. This article covers the main reasons your standing desk won’t go up or down.

Key Takeaways:

  • Electric standing desks don’t work when cables don’t fit properly and this is one of the most common causes.
  • A high-weight load may stop the desk from going up or down.
  • Obstructing objects that create even minimum friction further prevents standing desk adjustability.

Reasons why your standing desk won’t go up and how to fix them

Standing desks are reliably built with premium products and materials, however, they can still have issues if the manufacturer’s guidelines aren’t followed.

1. Loss of power

Electric sit stand desks need power to go up or down. All of the height adjustability features are lost when there’s no power.


Standing desks that don’t go up and down but are still on may have a lost power problem. This is particularly seen in the standing desk’s memory settings which may be lost during a temporary power outage.


Your standing desk loses power for reasons such as accidental unplugging, temporary power outages, or due to a faulty outlet. Lost power problems can be identified when the desk’s control box is on but when it won’t adjust to your height. You need to save your desired elevations for the heights and lowest position (standing and sitting) again after a power outage as lost power prompts some desks into a reset mode. For a guide on how to program standing desks, read this tutorial.

If you don’t have access to a power point then you could consider a manual standing desk. However, there are differences between manual and electric standing desks to consider besides the availability of electricity.

2. There may be an Obstruction

Built in safety features are often responsible for a stuck standing desk whenever there’s an obstruction in the way.


The standing desk is plugged in and there’s noise coming from the motors when you press the up or down buttons yet the sit-stand desk doesn’t move. This is an indication of an obstruction.


Height adjustable desk troubleshooting for obstructions involves checking and removing the obstruction and attempting a manual reset. Obstructions come in many forms such as a stuck cable, mobile pedestals that are in the way, or an office chair that prevents adjustments. Most modern desks have a collision detection feature that stops adjustments when there’s an obstruction.

3. The Legs are not even

Some standing desk problems are specific to the first use when the desk hasn’t been properly assembled. Your desk might not go up when you press the up arrow or down when you press the down arrow for the first time after assembly when they are not even.


The desk’s legs need to be even so that the desktop is in a flat position. Some of the reasons for uneven legs include an uneven floor, improper desktop-to-frame assembly, power cables that aren’t securely connected, or control box cases that run in different directions.


Start by checking if the desk’s legs sit on uneven surfaces, such as carpets. If your floor is flat, continue by checking the level of the desktop. A smartphone-level app can help establish if the desktop is not perfectly flat. Multi-motor standing desks may have one motor for each leg which might be the reason one works without synchronization with the other motor. A complete reset is needed for the desk to correctly define its base elevation.

4. The duty cycle of a digital controller Is Out

Each electrical device has a duty cycle that limits the amount of time a digital control can be active fore before it goes into a temporary rest mode.


Your sit stand desk might not adjust up or down even if there’s no obstruction while plugged in. You might have adjusted it up and down too many times. A duty cycle refers to the number of times you can adjust the desktop up and down before a mandatory rest period.


Make sure you read your owner’s manual to learn more about your standing desk’s cycle time resting period. The desk’s manufacturer informs you about the duration of the resting stage after your desk’s cycle time resting period. Alternatively, make sure you save your desired elevation settings in the presets of your digital controller to have a perfect standing and sitting position with just a few clicks instead of moving the desktop up and down too many times.

5. The Cables are not fitted properly

The control box recognizes the elevation of your height-adjustable desk and it helps you find the right elevation levels. It fails to properly recognize the elevation of the height-adjustable desk when its cables aren’t properly fitted.


Your standing desk might not move even when it seems everything is assembled correctly. Its control box might not even turn on.


You need to check no desk cables are loose. Control box cables, motor cables, or even the main power cables can be loose. You need to check all of these cables fit properly to diagnose the problem. For a guide on the best cable management practises, read our article on standing desk cabling tips.

6. The Upper container stop is activated

A standing desk won’t go up to its maximum height if there’s a user-defined upper container stop limit. This is an advanced safety feature the user creates and which doesn’t come as standard out of the box.


A maximum limit can be set for the desk’s standing position as well as for its sitting position. You might have set a maximum elevation of 120cm to avoid collision with objects such as mounted shelves.


While you might have forgotten about the upper container stop over long periods, you need to change these limits according to the indications in your owner’s manual.

7. There is too much weight

The desktop and other electrical equipment of your height-adjustable table or desk come with a maximum load. Most desks show this limit in the specifications sheet and it’s important to understand the weight capacity of your standing desk.


Safety features that prevent weight overload automatically turn off the adjustment functions of a standing desk under a very high load. This prevents electric motor failure.


Make sure you reduce the weight on the desktop to avoid standing desk issues with height adjustability. For example, a desktop with a 140kg maximum load should only be loaded with equipment that weighs up to 140kg.

8. Outdated firmware/software

Some types of electric height adjustable desks come with upgradable software. They can store software and update it as needed.


Old firmware on electric sit stand desks might limit the functions of a standing desk.


Make sure to check the software update process of your standing desk’s manufacturer. Software updates are typically made through the USB port of your height-adjustable desk.

4 Reasons why your standing desk won’t go down and How to fix them

An adjustable standing desk may go up without also going down. Troubleshooting this problem is slightly similar to a standing desk that doesn’t go up. You should be mindful that the correct height for your standing desk should be well within its limits.

1. Object obstruction

The collision detection feature of a sit-stand desk may prevent it to go up, but it also prevents it to go down. Detecting an object such as an office chair or even a child hiding under the home office standing desk prevents a desk from forcing motors to go down.


The main reason for a sit-stand desk not to go down is an object detected by its anti-collision sensor. A keyboard tray might be pushing against an office chair which prevents it from lowering further. Other objects that obstruct the desktop include stuck power cables or a surge protector that’s stopping the desktop from going down without friction.


A standing desk that’s working properly needs to be free of any physical obstruction. Make sure to also check cables as even minimum friction may stop the desk from going down to a sitting position as a safety measure that protects its electric motors.

2. Weight loading

A standing desk that has been loaded with office supplies and computer equipment is a desk that’s not going down to its lowest point. The motors detect the extra weight and temporarily stop working.


A sit-stand desk has a maximum load capacity of 100kg to 140kg. Adding equipment that weighs more than this maximum limit prompts the desk to stop adjusting down to protect its motors.


While the standing desk may seem temporarily unplugged, it’s its software that protects the motors from going down under a very heavy load. Make sure you reduce the weight on the desk and do a manual reset to resume normal adjustability according to its lifting capacity.

3. The Control box cycles are out

Continuous adjustment for that perfect sitting position eventually prompts the standing desk to take a pause. This is a safety measure put in place by the control box cycle to allow a short rest period not to overload the motors.


The height-adjustable desk doesn’t adjust anymore when you adjust the height too many times in a short period. This may make it look like the standing desk is broken. The control box cycle requires a short pause for cooling down before the desk can be adjusted again.


A healthy work environment doesn’t need to be complicated, You can save your preferred sitting position to avoid spending too much time clicking the control box to find the perfect seated working position.

4. Lower container stop

A lower container stop might prevent your standing desk from going down to 60cm. A standing desk can be prevented from going all the way down through a lower container stop.


You’re pushing the down button on your control box only for the desk to be stuck and not go all the way down. This is a sign of a user-defined lower container stop.


Make sure you remove the lower container stop from the control boxes or perform a full factory reset to go back to the default factory settings of your standing desk.

What You should do if your standing desk stops working

Here are some of the basic steps to consider when your standing desk isn’t working.

  1. Step 1: Remove all objects that might be blocking the desk.
  2. Step 2: Check that all cables fit properly and are secure.
  3. Step 3: Unplug the sit stand desk and wait up to a minute before plugging it back in.
  4. Step 4: – Make sure your standing desk’s legs are even.
  5. Step 5: Check the desk’s maximum load capacity isn’t overlooked.

When you should reset your standing desk

Height adjustable desk troubleshooting is required when the adjustable desk doesn’t go up or down. Make sure you check for possible obstruction or the maximum load on the desk before going into the rest mode.

Do standing desk motors break?

Standing desk motors break all the time if they aren’t used according to the indications of the manufacturer. Not respecting the maximum lifting capacity of the desk is one of the main reasons its motors break.

How to reset the motor on your standing desk

The new standing desk culture at the office sometimes allows multiple users to work on a single desk. However, a desk

  1. Step 1: Check the owner’s manual for reset directions. Manual reset directions are different from one brand to another. Ideal situations allow you to check your owner’s manual in the height adjustable desk troubleshooting chapter on how to go into the reset mode.
  2. Step 2: Try pressing the down button if you don’t have an owner’s manual. Many standing desks can be restarted when you press and hold the down arrow button. Make sure the desk goes all the way down. You may need to press the down button again to confirm the rest.
  3. Step 3: Try pressing and holding both the down button and the up bottom for at least 10 seconds for a full reset. Other types of adjustable desks such as those made by Ikea enter the rest mode when you press and hold the up and down arrow buttons between 10 and 30 seconds.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I reset my UpDown standing desk?

You need to press the down button on your control box until the desk is at its lowest point to perform an UpDown sit stand desk reset.

How do I reset my Desky standing desk?

Press and hold the down button until the desk reaches its lowest point. You need to press and hold the button again for at least 10 seconds to perform a full reset.

How do I reset my Omnidesk standing desk?

Omnidesk standing desks need to be lowered to their lowest point. Once here, you need to press the down button again for the desk to rise and lower itself again to restart.

How do I reset my Everdesk standing desk?

You need to find the reset function in the menu of your controller. Turn it anti-clockwise to find the rest function in the menu.


A sit stand desk that won’t go up or down is a desk trapped in its most recent height adjustment. Typical reasons why an electric desk doesn’t go up or down include a type of physical obstruction, cables that aren’t fitted properly, uneven legs, and upper, and lower container stops. You can fix physical problems by leveling the desk properly and by checking for obstructions. Most software-related issues can be fixed by performing a full desk reset. If all else fails, it could be the standing desk life span has come about (generally 5-10 years) and a new desk may be worth considering.

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