When you own a house, there are plenty of opportunities for a good old-fashioned DIY project. Installing a stairlift is not one of them. Unsafe installations not only damage the stairlift, which can lead to breakdowns, but can also cause accidents and compromise the safety of the user. The Accessibility Equipment Manufacturers Association (AEMA) has taken a strong stance against self-installations and DIY stairlifts, publishing a position paper that highlights some of the dangers. Above all, before getting a stairlift, you should be sure that it can be installed:
- In a safe manner
- In a manner that ensures operational safety
- In conformance with local codes and regulations
Even if you have a background in carpentry or electrical work, it’s not guaranteed that you’ll be able to safely install a stairlift. A safe installation requires very specific training and an understanding of the product. While many people are capable of installing a stairlift, attempting to complete the job without the proper training and experience is like building a house without blueprints.
The Drawbacks of a DIY Stairlift
As mentioned above, “DIY” installations often compromise the integrity of the stairlift, both endangering the user and potentially risking the safety of others using the staircase. Without quality checks and definitive safety standards, there’s no telling if the stairlifts core components are intact and the risk of dangerous accidents involving your DIY stairlift go up exponentially.
In addition to safety concerns related to their core components (like the overspeed governor and the emergency break), DIY stairlifts come with the added risk of an imperfect fit. Stairlifts bought from online retailers, Craigslist or other third parties might not fit your staircase properly. Most stairlifts are designed for a certain side of the staircase, so if you try to install a right-hand stairlift on the left side of your stairs, it won’t fit right; even worse, the chair will wind up swiveling the wrong way at the top of the stairs, leaving the user in a very dangerous position, facing down the stairs.
No Technical Support
When installing a stairlift, you might need some technical support to make sure that you’re on the right track. Unfortunately, if you aren’t licensed and trained to work on their product, most stairlift companies will not provide technical support due to the liability risks. You’ll be stuck with (at best) an installation manual that gives you just the basics and contains no troubleshooting or guidance on what to do if things go wrong during installation.
If you’re buying a reconditioned stairlift or receive one from a friend or relative, you might think that a self-install is the only option. However, some companies (like Stannah) offer re-installation service, pending a thorough quality check of the stairlift. If purchased directly from the company, a refurbished stairlift usually comes with the added benefit of an extended warranty. If not, an additional service contract can be purchased following installation. These options are not available for DIY stairlifts.
Lose Access to Stairlift Service
A consistent provider for service is important, as most companies typically recommend getting your stairlift serviced annually at a minimum. This becomes increasingly important as your stairlift ages and, considering that second-hand stairlifts often come with high mileage, it’s a good idea to establish a consistent source for service from the get-go. But, if you install your stairlift on your own, it is unlikely that a reputable company will want to work on it, due to the liability risks mentioned earlier.
Benefits of a Professional Installation
Professional training and skills ensure safe installations and come with the added benefit of a full customer walk-through, so that you’ll know how to operate your stairlift safely. A professional installation not only guarantees that your stairlift will be fitted to your stairs properly, you also get the added benefit and peace-of-mind that comes with expert aftercare and support from a reputable company.
That means that you can ride your stairlift with confidence, knowing that it was installed to the manufacturer’s standards; it also means that you get their full support after the fact. Whether you buy a stairlift from a trusted dealer or directly from Stannah, you’ll have access to operational troubleshooting and call out service. If you purchase a stairlift from us in one of our direct service areas, you’ll also get the benefit of Stannah’s market-leading warranty.
DIY stairlifts might seem like a logical shortcut – a good way to save a few bucks, while also flexing your technical muscles. But, the cost is far greater than any online retailer or second-hand salesman will tell you. When you buy from Stannah, you’ll have our skills and experience at your disposal. Why risk your safety unnecessarily?
Let us help you glide up stairs in comfort and safety, so you can carry on enjoying life in the home you love.