Until you actually begin to consider buying a stairlift, the purchase of one might seem like a complicated business. In fact, by asking a few simple questions, you can find out all you need to know. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about stairlifts.
When should I consider buying a stairlift
Simply, when using the stairs has become a chore or if mobility difficulties prevent easy access. Many stairlift users are quite able to walk, sit or stand - but find a stairlift makes life easier.
Are stairlifts difficult to use
Some stairlifts are simpler to use than a television or a washing machine. Well-designed lifts operate with a single switch, use a self-charging DC battery pack and are largely maintenance-free. It's as easy as sitting in a chair and pressing a button.
What features should I look for in a quality stairlift
For safety, your stairlift should have DC battery power as opposed to direct AC; it should have a lockable swivel seat for ease of access; it should have safety sensors to detect obstructions, and British standards dictate that it should have electronic and mechanical brakes (an overspeed governor - OSG).
For comfort, your stairlift should have fold-away parts, a smooth start/stop motion and remote controls to 'call' or 'send' the lift.
I am afraid a stairlift will be an unsightly addition to my home.
Modern stairlifts are unobtrusive and thoughtfully designed. With their fold-away parts and whisper-quiet operation, they soon become an accepted part of your home's furniture.
I have difficulty bending my knees. Can I still use a stairlift
Perch or standing stairlifts allow the user to travel in an upright or half-sitting (perching) position, so they are ideal for people with joint-mobility difficulties.
I live with my husband and we both need the stairlift. What happens if he's upstairs and the lift is downstairs
A remote control (as with a TV) can be used to 'call' or 'send' the lift to where it is needed. In this way, numerous residents can use the same lift.
If I install a lift, will the stairs still be accessible to others
Provided the stairlift has folding arms, seat and footplate, it can be conveniently folded away to provide clear access for anyone who wants to use the stairs. For extra-narrow staircases, a slim stairlift design is available.
There is a turn in my staircase. Can I use a stairlift
Curved-rail stairlifts can be used, but they are complex and often very expensive. Alternatively, it is sometime possible to fit two straight stairlifts to accommodate a turn. If in doubt, contact a manufacturer and ask for a trained surveyor to measure your staircase for an individual quote (reputable companies will do this for free).
What happens if there's a power cut Will the stairlift work
The best stairlifts use DC battery packs, so even if the mains electricity is cut off, the lift will still function. This means that stair access is possible in the event of an emergency.
Will I have to install the lift myself
If you buy your stairlift from a reputable company, it is fitted in your home as part of the cost. This can be done quickly (sometimes in less than an hour) by trained installers, and guarantees the safety of your stairlift.
What do I do if something goes wrong with my stairlift
Good stairlifts are exceptionally reliable. Nevertheless, a quality model will be supplied with a comprehensive warranty that includes servicing, parts and maintenance. Should you have a problem, simply call the phone number you have been supplied with and an engineer will come to help.
Where can I buy a stairlift
Stairlifts are available through pharmacies, mobility shops and in some cases direct from the manufacturer. The Internet can provide contact details for these. Beware of buying stairlifts from classified ads or personals.