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Page Reviewed / Updated – January 04, 2021

Aging adults or younger people with physical mobility challenges can remain in their homes thanks to the availability of stair lifts. These devices allow homeowners to travel up stairs safely and comfortably, whether inside their home or outside. A stair lift is a simple mechanism made with a track for a chair to travel on and a motorized gear that moves the lift up and down. Once installed, owners need to familiarize themselves with how to maintain a residential stair lift.

Read this informative guide to learn about the parts of a stair lift and how regular maintenance helps to keep it running.

Stair Lift Maintenance and Warranties

All stair lifts have common parts and materials that require maintenance. Regular inspection and maintenance keep a stair lift operational and extend its life. Stair lifts may look complicated, but they don’t actually have many components. Besides the track, chair and motor, other smaller parts that provide safety and comfort, such as the seat belt, controller and footrest, only need dusting.

How Stair Lift Maintenance Affects the Warranty

The larger pieces of a chair lift and the mechanical parts that need regular maintenance are more essential to its operation. Each stair lift company offers a warranty with several layers of coverage. During the initial warranty period, lift companies cover parts, labor, the rail and motor, and the gearbox. However, the warranty period and type of repairs are limited.

Maintaining a stair lift is not only important for safe and comfortable operation, it could mean the difference between coverage for warranty repairs or repairs not covered due to misuse. Many companies specify basic maintenance and conditions to receive the benefits of the warranty. One standard condition required by almost all lift companies is installation by an authorized installer. Do-it-yourself installations void the warranty. Here are the other standard requirements for warranty validity:

  • No misuse or abuse of the stair lift – This would include allowing children to play on it, loading the chair with more weight than the lift is designed to carry or any other use not intended for the lift.
  • Third-party or unauthorized alterations – Any modification made to the lift after installation by an unauthorized installer voids the warranty.
  • Proper maintenance – The most important responsibility for the homeowner is maintenance to keep the lift safe and the warranty in place. Each lift comes with a manual outlining regular maintenance and typically includes a service log to record the services performed.

Stair lift owners need to keep track of when they purchased the lift and remember to schedule an authorized service technician to do a one-year checkup. This ensures the lift is safe and likely keeps the warranty active. This one-year service includes a comprehensive check of all the major systems and any tune-ups or repairs that may need attention.

Regular Stair Lift Maintenance

Between yearly checks, the stair lift owner is responsible for performing regular inspections and maintenance on the operational parts of the lift. Lift users need to read the instruction manual for information on upkeep and specific care for the brand and type of lift purchased.

Outside stair lifts require the same maintenance as indoor lifts with additional service required for outdoor mechanisms. Each lift has a manual with detailed information about the battery and moving parts. Keeping the unit in good shape extends the life of the lift.

  • Clean the lift track – Begin by disabling the device, removing the key and then inspecting the track for any obstructions or dirt. Use a duster or damp cloth to wipe the track at least once a week.
  • Lubricate the track – Once every three months, grease the track with approved lubricants to prevent problems with movement deterioration. A track that grinds or rubs loudly needs lubrication to prevent the metal and wheels from being damaged.*
  • Check moving parts – Items such as the cable, locking mechanism, swivel seat, arms and footrest may wobble if loose. Check for connections, screws and bolts that are need tightening.
  • Lubricate trailing cable – Some stair lifts have a trailing cable. Keep this cable out of the path of staircase users and check it for cracks, deterioration or damage. Lubricate this type of cable with talcum powder.
  • Batteries – Be sure to charge the battery completely, keeping the battery charger in a safe, dry location. Most batteries last from one to two years before needing replacement.
  • Wheels – Squeaking or grinding wheels means they could be cracked and not rotating freely. Inspect the wheels monthly for any signs of wear.

*Outside stair lifts require different lubrication products than indoor lifts.

Signs a Stair Lift Needs Maintenance

Monitor your stair lift to detect problems before they render the lift inoperable. Listen for and pay attention to the following signs of problems:

  • A bumpy ride, rough movement, jerky operation
  • Slow start or hesitation upon use
  • Unusual noises
  • Beeping, indicating an error code or low battery
  • Error codes on the device’s display panel

Any of these observations means it’s time to call a technician to inspect the lift and make any required repairs. While these issues may seem minor, an expert technician can correct unseen problems the user may not notice.

Professional dealers help to ensure proper installation and prompt service when a repair is needed. Still, it’s up to the homeowner to take care of the stair lift and keep it operational through regular maintenance and timely reporting of any problems to the company or dealer.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Stair Lift Maintenance

What cleaners should I use to clean my stair lift?

None. A slightly damp dust rag, cloth or feather duster is the only thing needed to wipe the components of the stair lift.

How often does the track need to be lubricated?

The track lasts longer if it’s lubricated every three months. Always use an approved lubricant or call a service technician to perform this important maintenance.

If I go out of town, should I unplug the stair lift and disconnect the battery?

Leave the lift plugged in but turned off. This keeps the battery charged for your return.

What do I do if my stair lift stops working?

Troubleshoot the lift by turning the power off and on, check the key switch, look for any obstructions on the stairs, check for error codes and be sure the swivel seat is properly snapped into place.

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