Stairlifts have grown in popularity as more senior citizens strive to age in place.
If you or a loved one are considering adding a stairlift, it is important that you do not purchase one that you will max out each time you use the unit.
Buying a stairlift that is not suitable for your weight can be a frustrating and costly mistake.
Is There A Weight Limit For Stairlifts?
Depending on the brand, stairlifts can carry up to 350 pounds up and down the stairs. Certain stairlifts can have lower weight limits between 250-300 pounds. If at all possible, get a unit that is oversized for the weight of the primary user.
Hire a Professional
Unless you are a very skilled carpenter, you want to hire a professional to install your stairlift.
The mounting of these units, both to the floor and wall, must be precise to avoid the risk of failure at the mounting points or binding along the track.
Sadly, many who do try to DIY their own stairlift end up having to call a professional in the midst of the project.
Not only will this cost more (as they’ll have to fix your mistakes as well as install the lift) but you may not be able to get help until you fit into their schedule.
This delay can leave your stairs nearly impassable.
If you are starting to have trouble with the stairs and want to get an estimate for a stairlift, get it installed before you have to.
Should you suffer an illness or an injury that makes it impossible for you to get up the stairs, you may find that going home will be extremely hazardous and uncomfortable.
Having it and not needing it will not make it harder to get up and down your stairs. Needing it and not having it can make daily living extremely difficult.
Worse, you may be cut off from half of your home until the installers can get to you.
Get Your Stairlift Serviced
Once you get your stairlift installed, make sure you set up a regular maintenance schedule, preferably with your installer.
There are aspects of your chairlift that you can probably manage on your own, such as checking the charge of your batteries.
However, maintaining the track and the chair structure will likely require you the help of a skilled professional.
Keeping the track dust free may sound simple, but any improper treatment of the track can lead to
- dust and grit clogging the mechanism
- moisture build-up and corrosion
- electrical problems within the track mechanism
Vacuuming your steps may be enough to keep the carpet clean, but it could lead to static which may damage the components that monitor the speed and travel of the chair.
A stairlift is a large investment. Adding a maintenance contract will protect that investment.
Monitor the Unit Each Time You Use It
Make sure you use the unit in the presence of the installer so you know what is “normal” for the stairlift.
Pay attention to sounds that the unit makes, how long the process takes, and any lights that come up on the display.
Take the time to review the manual with the installer so you know of any impending problems.
Like any habit, using a stairlift will take time to get used to. If you generally like to carry your phone and a water bottle from one floor of the house to another, see if your stairlift manufacturer offers a pocket you can use to stash these items.
You don’t want to be halfway up the stairs and drop your phone or spill water on the unit. Do your best to keep your hands free so you can pay attention to the unit for any odd noises or jerky motions.
As soon as you notice a problem, reach out to your maintenance person. They can let you know if the unit is suffering a malfunction or just needs a cleaning.
They can also let you know if the installer has to come back out. Address these issues before you are stranded halfway up the stairs.
In addition to regular maintenance, make sure you set a calendar appointment with yourself to get your batteries checked.
Most stairlift units are powered by an Absorbent Glass Mat battery. These batteries do have a long life but will need to be replaced after 3 years at a minimum, though they may last longer.
If you must have a stairlift to manage the tasks of daily living, ask your maintenance professional about any spare parts you should keep in your home.
Guard the Unit
A stairlift can be a unique jungle gym for a child. If your grandchildren are coming over, shut the unit off.
It should never be treated as a toy or used to carry multiple folks up and down the stairs. Pay careful attention to the weight limit of your unit and don’t let anyone overload it.
If you have pets, talk to your installer about the best way to protect the unit both from pet hair and from little paws getting in the way.
Your cat may hide while the installers are in the house, but your dog could be very curious about this new addition. You may need to add gates to keep your pets away from the unit at all times.
A stairlift can be the key to maintaining your independence. Don’t push it or wait to install it when you have to have it.
Get your home assessed now for any adaptations that will need to be made for a stairlift to be installed.
Consider also upgrading your bathroom and shower space for ease of use.