If you have a staircase chair lift installed in your home, chances are it’s a lifeline for you or a member of your family. For the elderly and people with disabilities or mobility issues, two-story homes can be a nightmare without a working lift.
If your lift is broken, the first thing you should do is call the manufacturer to find out if it’s still under warranty. Never pay for a repair before checking. However, if the lift is no longer covered, you may find that the original manufacturer’s repair prices are not the best value. It’s always better to shop around to compare prices.
You’d be surprised at how often a broken chair lift is just a minor problem. In some cases, people simply don’t realize the key has been switched off. In other cases, a blown fuse is to blame. Before you call a repair service and pay $150 to $200 for the visit, make sure to check all switches and fuses. You may also want to try resetting the chair. Some chairs have devices that act as their own circuit breakers.
If you’ve tried all of that and the lift still doesn’t work, you may be experiencing one of the following common problems:
- Snapped springs - According to Dr. Neil Sterling of the Castle Comfort Group, if your chair has a swivel seat, you should check to make sure it is set in the traveling position using the seat paddles. If they won’t spring back up after the seat is in proper position, you’re likely dealing with snapped springs. That’s a problem that is going to require professional repair.
- Broken joystick - This is an easy problem to test. If the seat works using a wall-mounted switch or remote, you know the joystick is the problem. This also requires professional repair in most cases.
- Safety edges - Dr. Sterling advises lift owners to check all the built-in safety edge switches if there’s no other obvious reason the lift won’t work. This often causes the lift to move up but not down and vice versa. There are usually five switches, located on the carriage edges and the footplate.
- Track hinge out of position - This is a common problem after new flooring has been installed. First, make sure there is nothing obstructing the rail. If not, call in a professional to assess and repair the problem.
If you’re handy, or if you have a close friend or family member who can help, you might be able to do some or all of the repairs yourself. Spare parts are readily available online. However, make sure to check the terms of your warranty first. DIY repairs might void some or all of your warranty coverage.
In most cases, a technician will charge anywhere from $100 to $400 just to come out and asses the problem. Labor usually runs $50 to $100 an hour. From there, the cost depends on what’s wrong with the lift, the cost of any needed parts and the time it takes to complete the repair.
All totaled, a minor repair might cost $200 to $500, while a major repair could cost $1,000 to $1,500 or more. You can hire a chair lift manufacturer or an independent appliance repairman to do the work. Keep in mind that manufacturers are often more expensive. Be sure to compare prices and services before making your choice.
Many times, the manufacturer will also try to sell you an extended warranty or maintenance plan when they come out do repairs. These can be purchased even years after the lift was installed. The average four-year plan, which covers most but not all types of repairs, will run you anywhere from $1,000 to $2,000. If you’re considering one of these, use caution. They are not always a good value. Be particularly leery if the company tries to pressure you or use scare tactics.
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