Answers to Our Most Frequently Asked Questions
What are the key things to look for in a stairlift manufacturer?
It is hard for a first time buyer to evaluate the quality of a lift, so a key guide would be a manufacturer that is willing to submit their products to all the major approving and quality organizations. (UL, FDA, ASME, ISO). A manufacturer that backs up the person installing your lifts is key. There are also numerous logistical and support advantages to having a U.S. based manufacturer. U.S. lifts are typically sold as “Durable Medical Equipment” and therefore FDA regulated. Foreign lifts are often sold as “Convenience Devices” and are not legally obligated to stock spare parts when models change.
What are the key things to look for in a dealer and installer?
Quality stairlifts are very reliable, but they still require service and spare parts. A local dealer you can count on is critical. Will the same people who recommend a product, then install it and then back it up with years of service? In some cases, the first person you meet will be a commission-based sales person from a foreign company, the second will be an installation mechanic hired for this job – you may see neither of them if you have a problem in the future. Does the company do their own installations and service? What hours do they pick up the phone? Are stairlifts their main Business? Ask those questions.
Can I self install my chair lift?
Some stair lifts are sold over the Internet for self installation, but you must ask yourself questions related to tools, training, warranty, spare parts, ongoing service, as well as what happens if you make a mistake measuring or installing. It is easy for an individual unfamiliar with stairglide lifts to miss wall protrusions, doorway issues, etc. that may result in an Internet purchased lift not working in your home. Also how can you evaluate the quality of a product purchased this way. Many individuals find they end up spending more to undo some error. In some locations it is not even legal.
Can I rent a stairlift and save money?
Yes, but the cost of installation and then de-installation usually means a rental makes sense only if you are sure you will need the lift for just a few months. A better option may be a used lift if it is available.
Will Medicare or insurance cover the cost?
Unfortunately, this is not likely as Medicare considers this a “home modification” and does not cover it. Most insurance plans also do not cover it, but you can always ask your own provider.
Is the lift Tax Deductible?
You should ask your accountant, but a lift sold as “Durable Medical Equipment” can typically be deducted as a medical expense.
What happens if the electricity fails?
For this reason, a battery-driven lift is almost standard today. Bruno created the first such lift in 1992. These lifts plug into a standard wall outlet for recharging but can do multiple trips on the battery power alone. They have other advantages of being more quiet and providing a smoother ride.
Are Stairlifts safe?
Stairchairs are built with safety in mind and have an excellent safety and reliability record. There are many built-in safety features to stop the lift if it hits an obstruction. Most come with a seat belt. You are sitting in a seat slowly gong up your stairs on a rack and pinion gear driven track. For virtually everyone considering a stairlift, this is so much safer then climbing the stairs.
Is a stairlift the right solution in my situation?
The first person you talk to should not be simply focused on selling you a lift, but rather evaluating your options and situation. Can the individual transfer to a chair, are the stairs wide enough, weight and mobility issues, etc. A stairlift is not the right answer in every situation, but a free, no obligation in-home consultation usually is.
What if I have a spiral stairway, a door in the way, a short landing etc.
A straight stairway lift is the least expensive option, but there are many other options from curved rails, to rails that fold out of the way automatically, that may work in your situation. Do not assume you cannot put in a stair-lift simply because the one you saw at neighbor’s would not fit your stairs.
What do stairlifts cost?
You must look at three separate components. The price of the lift, the cost to install it properly & safely, and the cost of the manufacturer & dealer fully supporting your purchase over time. The least expensive option may appear to be buying a lift on the Internet and finding a handy individual to install it. But if this fails it may turn into the most expensive option. A new straight stair-lift with no special options or issues – properly installed – typically ranges from about $3,000 to over $4,000, with extra options adding additional cost. Curved lifts or double lifts, of course, all cost more. Although the cost is significant – the cost per use – or compared to the alternatives – may not be.
Should I buy a used lift to save money?
If one is available that is an option. But ask about the warranty and if replacement parts would still be available for this model and for how long. Much of the cost of a stairlift relates to the installation and support, so quality used lifts may only be 20% less than new lifts. It makes no sense to buy an older used lift only to discover the first time it has a problem you cannot get it fixed.
What should I expect from the person I talk to?
Your initial discussion, both over the phone and in-person should be focused on providing you all the information you need, rather than getting you to buy something. On the phone, if you can describe your stairway and the user, you should be able to get an accurate idea of the costs for your individual stairway. During a visit, you should be given information on the best options for your situation. You should never be pressured in any way or told there are “special prices” only if you “Buy Now”.