Getting a wheelchair lift in your house is no easy feat; you must be prepared for all the changes having this lift will bring, and be armed with the knowledge to ensure that you get the right product to suit your purposes. This article highlights important points to note about wheelchair lifts for home use.
1. Use only for the intended purpose
It should go without saying, but wheelchair lifts are intended to do just that: hoist wheelchairs. They are not supposed to be used to carry freight or people who aren't in wheelchairs. If you have space and want a more general-purpose lift, a home elevator might be the product for you to install.
2. Get a pre-installation inspection
Both vertical (goes up and down) and inclined (goes around the stairwell) wheelchair lifts are made customised for your own needs, which is why they are relatively costly. Before making an order, therefore, be sure that a qualified technician from a renowned manufacturer has visited your home and taken all the important details down -- which side the gate should open, travel distance, size of lift, desired operating mechanism, etc.
3. Talk to your electrician
If you don't already have a heavy-duty socket in place to power the lift, your house may need re-wiring to create this socket. This may require a bit of work, depending on your current wiring system. It helps to bring in your own electrician to assess the wiring needs and have the socket in place by the time the manufacturer's installers come around with the lift.
4. Maintenance is intensive and compulsory
Like all electrical machinery with mechanical parts, wheelchair lifts have a very stringent maintenance schedule. You can perform some service tasks yourself to save money, but a professional inspection every six months is mandatory, and more often if the lift is used for more than ten cycles every day. Talk to the manufacturer (and read the manual) to find out a suitable maintenance checklist and keep to it.
You can use mild dishwashing or car-cleaning soap and water to wipe down the lift. Dry thoroughly with a clean microfiber cloth. Once dry, a light coating of manufacturer-recommended oil should be applied to moving parts. Cleaning and lubrication are crucial during bad weather, when dirt, salt, mud or snow gets into the lift. You can clean the wheelchair prior to loading to reduce the dirt.
5. Report any breakdowns
Remember that the lift carries a person, and if something goes wrong while they're in it, they could be at serious risk of injury. You can follow any unobtrusive troubleshooting tips (usually in the manual), but don't attempt any repairs outside your comfort zone. If you notice any trouble with your lift, contact the manufacturer before opening up connections and trying to fiddle with them.