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How Do Stair Lifts Work?

Stair lifts provide a safe and easy way to get up and down the stairs.

A stair lift is a safe and affordable way for seniors with limited mobility to navigate between the floor levels of their home. It provides convenience and can restore independence for those who stopped using the stairs. To help you get a better idea of how stair lifts work, we highlight some of the basic features and controls that enable the lift to operate and provide info about how they operate.

Stair Lifts are Easy to Operate 

While there are some differences between makes and models, all of our lifts have simple controls and robust safety features. All stairlifts have a simple switch that controls their movement. The lift travels up or down the stairway when the rider pushes and holds the switch. The chair will beep once, and stop automatically when the stairlift reaches the end of the track. If you release the switch at any point along the way the lift will start beeping and stop immediately. All of the stair lifts that we sell and install are equipped with a seatbelt.

How to Safely get onto the Chair

Getting onto the chair of the stair lift is like sitting on any other type of chair but there a few things you'll want to pay attention to at the bottom and top landings to ensure you can sit down safely:

Bottom Landing

  • Ensure armrests and seat are folded down and locked into place
  • When getting ready to sit down, make sure you hands can reach the armrests and the back of your knees are touching the front of the seat
  • When seated, manually fold the footrest down with your hand or foot -- If limited mobility prevents the user from manually folding the footrest down, a power folding footrest option is suggested

Top Landing

  • The armrests, seat and footrest should be folded down 
  • Push the seat lever to swivel the chair 90 degrees so that it locks into place away from the stairs so that you can safely sit down
  • Fasten seat belt and then swivel seat back into place for your safe ride down

Stair lifts attach to your stairs, not the wall:

A common assumption of those interested in a stair lift is that the stair lift causes damage to the wall. However, a stair lift will not cause damage to the walls because the rail is attached to the treads of the stairs, not the walls. The rail is held into place by support brackets that are screwed in and placed evenly apart from each other. The screws can go through carpet or any type of surfaces such as concrete, metal or tile.

Lifeway Mobility technician installing stair lift rail onto stair treads

Stair Lift Controls

Remote Controls

Bruno stairlift remote control

All stairlifts installed by Lifeway come with a pair of remote controls, which allows a user to call or send the chair from the top or bottom of the stairs. The controls are a convenient way for a caregiver to control the seat’s motion if the rider needs assistance. The remote control also allows users to use the lift as a dumbwaiter by placing packages or a clothes basket on the seat and using the remote to send them up or down.

Seat Controls

The chair in the picture is from the popular Bruno Elite stairlift seat. The black switch at the end of the right armrest controls the lift. Rock the switch one way and the seat will travel up the stairs. Rock it the opposite way and the chair will head for the lower landing.

Swivel Seat Feature for Safe Exit at Top of the Stairs:

The offset swivel seat feature allows for a safe exit from the chair lift at the top of the staircase. As the video to the right demonstrates, the seat swivels away from the stairs while the footrest remains in place. The swiveling action places the rider’s feet safely on the top landing allowing the rider to stand safely.

How Are Stair Lifts Powered?

Learn from Bruno's Mr. Stairlift:

Looking for more information about stair lifts? Checkout the Lifeway Mobility ultimate stair lift guide to learn about the pricing, options, the types of lifts offered, and more!

Contact us to set up your free stair lift consultation!

Additional Stairlift Resources

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