Wheelchair Lifts Install and Service
Installing a wheelchair lift outdoors or in your home
Installing a wheelchair lift will require some preparation of the construction site. The unit will need to be secured to the floor in some way, and may also require additional support and securement depending on the type of installation (manufacturer-supplied enclosure or hoist-way application). Since the lift requires power, there will also be some electrical preparation required.
Installing an Outdoor Deck Lift
Generally, a vertical lift will need to be anchored to a reinforced concrete slab. The slab will need to be level, with a suggested thickness of six inches (which may vary by model). Companies like Savaria and Garaventa have free planning guides available on their websites that detail the specifications for the construction of the slab.
Professionally trained dealers in your area should ensure that your unit is installed to meet local code including safety standards. A deck lift should include a solid surface gate at the top landing. Gates that are not solid create a pinching hazard and should be avoided. Additional fascia may be required below the deck in order to eliminate other pinch points.
A gate on the platform may also be required depending on the size of the lift. Automatic locks on gates prevent the gate from opening when the unit is in motion or when it is not at the gated landing. When using a lift with a scooter or powered wheelchair, use caution and board it slowly. These small things are very important in the construction and installation of a safe home deck lift.
A deck lift can be used to access an existing porch or deck, but it can also be used to directly access the home. To install in this application, a new door opening can be created. A door opener and a interlock would be required to ensure that the door opens only when the lift is at the door landing. Installing a deck lift inside a garage may also work in your home, depending on the access available.
Enclosed Outdoor Vertical Lifts
For additional cost, there are lifts that include factory built enclosures. An enclosed vertical platform lift is a great option to keep the unit and the user dry and protected from the weather. Enclosures can be made from metal, glass or acrylic panels attached to steel and aluminum structures. The enclosure acts as a shaft-way for the unit to operate inside. Gates and doors are added for the entry/exit areas of the lift and automatic locks ensure the lift does not operate until the doors are closed. Automatic operators can be added to gates or doors so they can be opened with the touch of a button.
Silver Cross has a network of pre-qualified dealers and installers who can visit your home to assess what is involved in preparing your home for a vertical platform lift installation.
Vertical Platform Lifts—Hoist-way
Another way to make your home accessible is to install a vertical platform lift inside your home within a hoist-way or a shaft-way. This is similar to how a home elevator is installed, but a vertical platform lift can be less expensive to install than a home elevator.
A local lift dealer can assess your home to determine if a hoist-way can be built in your home. Some models such as the Savaria V-1504 hydraulic lift offers options to finish a vertical platform lift with materials that make it look more like a home elevator. Operation of the unit will not be automatic as it uses constant pressure buttons.
Installing a vertical platform lift inside a hoist-way has specific construction requirements. For example, the unit will need to be secured to a support wall that features 2 x 4 or 2 x 6 framing. A pit underneath the lift will be required, similar to the requirement of an elevator. The hoist-way needs to be square and plumb and the electrical must include a disconnect switch.
For a church, school or any other non-private home, a commercial lift is required. Silver Cross can help you locate a trained, pre-qualified commercial lift dealer in your area.
Maintenance of a Wheelchair Lift
Wheelchair lifts will operate for many years if they are well maintained. The owner’s guide provided when you purchased your unit or available on the manufacturer’s website should include the required regular maintenance schedule.
Like a car, a wheelchair lift is mechanical and parts may need lubrication or adjustments from time to time by a service technician. Some parts may also need to be replaced over time.
Manufacturers offer warranties of varying lengths of time, typically on defective parts. Dealers may offer labor warranties as well, and many dealers offer pre-paid maintenance contracts or emergency repair programs. Ask ahead of purchasing to see what the dealer and manufacturer offer. Do not expect your lift to operate perfectly year after year if you do not maintain it.
If your unit is installed somewhere it is exposed to salt water, you will need to take extra care to maintain it. You may need to service your lift more often in order to combat the effects of the salt corrosion. If you live where it is very cold in winter, your unit may fail to operate on extremely cold days. Be sure to clear away any snow under and around the lift.
Most manufacturers require any warranty repairs to be done by the dealer who originally installed your product. This dealer will have the drawings and specifications for your lift as well as the proper training to service it. Don’t forget to keep the dealer’s information on hand should you need service in the future.