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A Stair Lift Can Increase Mobility at Home

stair liftMany Americans experience limited mobility due to age or disability. Climbing and descending stairs may become a challenge, restricting people to the lower levels of their homes. However, many people do not want to leave the homes where they have lived for years and created memories with their families. Installing a home stair lift can help you or a loved one with limited mobility move around freely and enjoy every room of your home.

A stair lift can be attached to either a straight or curved staircase to allow you or a family member to travel to the upper floors of your home. A stair lift attaches to a rail that is connected to the staircase (not the wall) to allow for a smooth ride between floors. A stair lift can negotiate sharp turns and landings between multiple floors. The seat and footrest fold up when not in use so that other family members can easily walk up and down the stairs.

Stair lifts are easy to operate and are powered with rechargeable batteries, so they will continue to work even if there is a power outage. The batteries typically last two to three years. Stair lifts also include standard safety features, such as seatbelts, brakes, footrest sensors, and overspeed governors.

Indy Stair Lifts can design and install a custom stair lift for your home. Whether you have a straight or curved staircase and want to travel between two or more floors, we can design and professionally install a stair lift that will help you or a loved one move safely and comfortably throughout your home.

Elevator Safety Features

elevator shaftElevators are built with several redundant safety features to protect riders.

Cable-driven elevators have multiple (four to eight) ropes to support the weight of the car and passengers. The cables consist of several lengths of steel material wound around each other. One cable is capable of supporting the weight of the elevator car and the counterweight. The extra ropes ensure that even if one cable snaps, the elevator will not free fall.

Even if all the ropes were to snap, or if the sheave system they were wound around released them, the elevator car would probably not free fall to the bottom of the shaft. Cable-driven elevators have safeties, a built-in braking system that grabs onto the rail if the elevator moves through the shaft too quickly. Safeties are activated by a governor, which is built around a sheave at the top of the elevator shaft. The governor rope loops around the governor sheave and another sheave at the bottom of the shaft. The rope is connected to the elevator car and moves when the car ascends or descends. When the car speeds up, so does the governor.

The sheave has two hooked flyweights, or weighted metal arms, that are held in place by a high-tension spring. If the elevator car falls too fast, the centrifugal force pushes the flyweights out and forces them to catch on ratchets, which stops the governor. A movable actuator arm attached to a lever linkage connects the governor ropes to the elevator car. If the governor sheave locks itself, the governor ropes jerk the actuator arm up, which moves the lever linkage, which then applies the brakes.

In other designs, a wedge-shaped safety sits in a stationary wedge guide. When the wedge moves up, the slanted surface of the guide pushes it into the guide rail, which applies the brakes.

Elevators have electromagnetic brakes that engage when the car stops and keep the brakes in the open position. If the elevator loses power, the brakes will clamp shut. Elevators also have automatic braking systems at both ends of the shaft that will engage if the car moves too far in either direction.

If all of these safety features fail and the elevator falls down the shaft, a heavy-duty shock absorber system, usually a piston mounted on an oil-filled cylinder, will act like a cushion to soften the landing.

Elevator Maintenance Requirements

elevatorsThe Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) have worked together to establish elevator maintenance requirements in order to ensure proper functioning and safety. Periodic elevator maintenance is required, and certain maintenance and records need to be maintained for an elevator to be certified by state governments.

OSHA and the ASME require periodic inspection of elevators as part of a preventive maintenance program. Inspection records must be reviewed by state inspectors before an elevator receives a permit to be operated. The elevator mechanic must clean, adjust, and lubricate the components that control the operation and speed of the elevator. Maintenance must be done at least every six months, but it may be done once a month for elevators that have heavy use.

The elevator mechanic must test the elevator’s electrical equipment using equipment such as pressure gauges, multi-meters, amp-meters, and other devices. The mechanic must test the electrical wiring, control boxes, electrical circuits, and operating controls and record the findings. The elevator’s speed must also be checked, and the emergency telephone must be working properly.

All aspects of the elevator’s operation that can be hazardous to individuals, such as door operation, floor-to-floor travel, acceleration, deceleration, and emergency and safety equipment, must be evaluated. Any problems must be repaired immediately.

In addition to federal regulations, some states and cities have additional requirements related to elevator safety and maintenance standards. Some also require licensing or certification for elevator mechanics and repair technicians.

Important Factors to Consider When Choosing a Stair Lift

stair lift photoIf you or a loved one suffers from mobility problems, getting up or down stairs can be a challenge. A home stair lift could be the solution.

Stair lifts can be either straight or curved, depending on the type of staircase in your home. Straight stair lifts go in a straight line up staircases without landings, bends, or curves. Curved stair lifts can go around bends and corners and change direction. Models can cost several thousand dollars, depending on the type of staircase and features included in the stair lift you choose.

Stair lifts attach to stair treads, not the wall, which makes them sturdy. Some companies offer weatherproof stair lifts for outdoor steps.

It is important to consider the characteristics of the person who will be using the stair lift when making a selection. If the person has trouble bending his or her knees, standing, or perch, stair lifts are a good option. These are also useful on narrow staircases. For a heavy person, lifts with wide seats and heavier weight capacities are available. Choosing a stair lift with soft starts and stops is important if the person suffers from lower back pain. This feature should be electronically controlled, since mechanical soft starts do not work as well. Locking swivel seats make it easy to step directly from the lift to the landing.

Most stair lifts have seats, armrests, and footplates that fold up, which minimizes the amount of space that the stair lift takes up when not in use. This is important if other people need to walk up and down the stairs.

The stair lift you choose should have several essential safety features, such as a seatbelt, brake, and footrest sensor. It should have an overspeed governor to prevent it from going out of control when descending the stairs. Safety surfaces can stop the stair lift if it collides with an object on the staircase.

The model you choose should have a push-button or rocker-switch control on the armrest. A call-send unit will allow the user to send the chair from one floor to another. Avoid radio frequency remote controls, since they are subject to outside interference. Most stair lifts are electric, but some companies offer battery-powered options that are quieter and smoother and work even if the power goes out. On-board diagnostics show the stair lift’s operating status and can help trouble shoot problems.

Installing a stair lift can dramatically improve the mobility and independence of you or a loved one. Nationwide Lifts can help you weigh your options and choose the one that is best for your home.

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