There is a growing, and worrying, trend for home stair lifts to be sold without any installation. The buyer is told that self-installation is easy and can be done by anyone with basic DIY skills. However, AMEA (Accessibility Equipment Manufacturer’s Association) and the British Healthcare Trades Association (BHTA) strongly advise against self-installation of a home stair lift. A reputable stair lift supplier will insist on doing the installation. Also, remember to ask about warranty and after sales service. A reputable dealer will offer both; look for a dealership that offers 24/7 telephone support so that you’ll get instant help when you need it. Here are some brief stair lift reviews of some leading makes.
The Summit Stair Lift: This is a low cost home stair lift. The company only makes straight stair lifts. The Summit chair lift is made to be a no-frills but reliable handicap stair lift. It uses technology that is now considered old-fashioned by most leading stair lift manufacturers; it uses a cable system rather than rack and pinion to drag the chair along the track, and the Summit stair lift is mains powered rather than battery powered. Other manufacturers switched to rack and pinion battery powered stair lifts because they give a smoother ride. You do get basic safety systems with the Summit stair lift such as a sensor on the footrest to detect obstacles, a seat belt and cable tensioning. Won’t you won’t get the more sophisticated safety features offered by other manufacturers. All in all, the Summit stair lift is for those on a small budget.
Other codes address "rail post support" safety. A rail post per code regulations is required to support a lateral load of 200 lbs. This is a poorly enforced area of the code and with many inspectors content with the bump test. If it doesn’t move too much when they bump it with their hip, the rail will pass inspection. Many rail posts are simply lagged or nailed to the rim joists and post which are mounted directly to the deck surface will simply not meet code. The tragedy is, there are systems available on the market that correctly address this problem. Simpson, USP and Deck-Loc have brackets which will meet code for rim joist attachment but there’s only one adjustable bracket system (discussed below) which will meet code for wood or composite stairs.
How does it work? The adjustable stair brackets are positioned on two 2x6’s -using a reusable spacing tool. The spacer is set using a chart which will give the exact setting for the rise and tread required for your project. Two screws are set in each bracket, attaching to the two 2x6’s. This forms a fully adjustable stringer which is then adjusted exactly to your stair requirements. Fixing screws are then inserted to lock the brackets in position. Two to three cuts total, top and bottom completes the stringer. Compared this to the dozens of cuts required for traditional construction. With this system, stairs can be built up to nine feet wide, using only the two outside stringers....no interior stringers required.
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