If you’re the owner of a new stairlift—or if you’re thinking about purchasing or even renting a model—you’ve probably already given some thought to the sort of maintenance and upkeep you’ll need to perform.
When customers ask us for advice about keeping their stair lifts in top working order, we usually begin by suggesting they think of their stair lift just as they would any other piece of expensive machinery, such as an automobile, a lawn mower, or even a dishwasher.
As with those three examples, a stair lift is a complex machine with many moving parts. In order to keep it operating in the same manner it did when you first purchased it, and in order to keep it safe, you need to look after it on a regular basis.
The service techs we employ at PA Stair Lifts are more than capable of performing any sort of maintenance task, no matter how complicated or seemingly insignificant. But throughout the long life of your stair lift, you’ll save a fair bit of money if you get in the habit of servicing your machine on a regular basis.
Performing light maintenance and cleaning every few weeks is generally sufficient. We suggest simply adding the tasks to your regular housecleaning routine. That’s an easy way to turn regular upkeep into a habit.
Read Your Stairlift Installation Owner’s Manual
Let’s be honest: When most of us purchase a new piece of machinery or an electronic device of some sort, reading the owner’s manual from cover-to-cover isn’t often on the top of our priority list.
But you should consider the owner’s manual that comes with your stairlift installation an important read for a couple of reasons: It will tell you what sort of maintenance you can easily take care of yourself, and which tasks you should leave to a professional. The manual will also tell you how often you should bring in a professional to give your stair lift a thorough going-over.
And perhaps the most important tip: The owner’s manual will tell you specifically what not to do to your lift in order to keep yourself from voiding the manufacturer’s warranty.
Lubricate Your Rails
Your stair lift’s rails are easily one of the important pieces of your new machine. If you hope to keep your lift running smoothly for as long as possible, it’s crucial that the rails are kept clean.
We suggest giving them a good wipe roughly once a week with a dry cloth—never a damp cloth. You can do this by first running your stair lift to the top of the landing, and then wedging your dry cloth into the track at the very bottom. Use a screwdriver or similar tool to move the cloth up and down the track.
If you find the track to be especially dirty, spray it with a small touch of WD-40. However, if you do use WD-40, make sure you finish by adding a small coat of polish or lithium grease to the track’s side walls.
(Warning: Never spray grease or polish on the bottom surface of the track, as that will cause your lift’s rollers to slide dangerously.)
Tighten Your Nuts and Bolts
If your stairlift installation sees a lot of regular use, chances are good that at least some of the screws and bolts holding your lift together are already a bit looser than they should be. Not only can loose screws and bolts lead to a severely damaged rail, but they can also lead to a potentially dangerous fall. We think you’ll agree that neither of those two scenarios are particularly appealing.
There are two main locations on your lift where loose screws and bolts are most likely to occur: the area where the seat attaches to the track, and the various areas at which the track itself attaches to your staircase.
We suggest testing them all for potential looseness every couple weeks. But remember not to tighten them with all your might: If you tighten them excessively hard, you’ll be at risk for stripping the screws, which will make removal or future tightening difficult, or even impossible.
Keep Your Stairs and Rails Free of Dust, Dirt and Obstructions
Where the proper maintenance of your stair lift is concerned, there are certainly a lot of details to bear in mind. So it makes sense that you may not have considered the importance of also keeping clean the actual stairs on which your stair lift rides.
But make no mistake: Keeping your staircase free from obstructions and dirt of any sort can be just as important as maintaining the lift itself. A stair lift that bumps into an errant ball or a stack of books can easily be damaged. And dust that gathers naturally on your stairs, or even loose pet hair, can work its way into your lift’s machinery and gum up the works for good.
We suggest giving your staircase a good going-over, either with a strong vacuum cleaner or a rag, every time you clean or tighten up the lift itself. Pay extra attention to the areas around the track, which should always been kept clear of any debris.