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How to Make Home Wheelchair Accessible

how to make your home wheelchair accessible

You can improve the accessibility of your home with minor modifications. Many updates do not require drastic changes to your home’s appearance. Make sure you cover all the areas that need modification with this wheelchair accessibility through this checklist.

Steps to Make a Home Wheelchair Friendly

A wheelchair-friendly home allows a person in a wheelchair to go through their daily routine as efficiently as possible. You can hire someone to make these changes or take a DIY approach, depending on your level of home improvement skills.

steps to make home wheelchair accessible

Applying universal design principles to your home will ensure everyone, including wheelchair users, can use the home for years to come. As the name suggests, universal design principles create spaces for everyone, regardless of height, ability or age. Universal design can help people to remain in their homes even as they age.

The major areas that need changes include doorways, corridors, stairs, kitchens and bathrooms. Focusing on these places maximizes the mobility around the home for the wheelchair user and others. For all these areas, always measure the alterations to ensure they meet recommended guidelines for accessibility.

Making your home more accessible increases safety and livability. Just a few changes to the design will be valuable investments in yourself and your home.

How to Make Doorways Wheelchair Friendly

Making your doorways more accessible may require you to expand the space. Doorways need to be wide enough to ensure ample space for a wheelchair to maneuver through openings. Some codes require 34-inch-wide exterior doors and 32-inch-wide interior doors. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires doorways to have a minimum of 32 inches of width with the door open. Always check with your local building regulations before beginning any remodeling projects.

Standard doorway widths may not fulfill minimum accessibility requirements. For example, while the International Residential Code mandates 36-inch-wide by 80-inch-tall opening for the main entry door, these measurements do not apply to the back or side doors. Commonly found exterior doors measure anywhere between 28 inches and 32 inches. You may need to widen the back or side door of your home.

Inside the home, standard doors for hallways, bedrooms and bathrooms measure 34 inches wide. However, half-bath doors generally are much narrower, with a distance between 25 and 30 inches wide. Small doorways will need widening because their existing width is too small for a wheelchair to maneuver through them.

If you need to resize the door openings, you will have to remove the existing frame as well as the door. When cutting a new doorway, add two inches to the door width you want to add to account for the size of the frame. For example, if you need to install 32-inch-wide doors, cut the opening to 34 inches wide.

When widening doorways, also look at the new doors you will install and their hardware. The ADA outlines requirements to make businesses and public places fully accessible to all. Included in these guidelines are instructions for doors and doorways. Doors should not have hardware that requires twisting or firm gripping. Replace doorknobs with handles that a person can open single-handedly. For example, lever handles are easier to open than knobs.

Thresholds across doorways need to have a rounded surface to allow a wheelchair to smoothly pass over them. Do not build thresholds higher than 1/2-inch to adhere to ADA regulations. The exception to this rule is for sliding glass doors leading to the outside, which may have a maximum height of 3/4-inch for the threshold.

Widening doorways makes your home more accessible, but you will need to make additional modifications throughout the rest of the home, especially for multi-story buildings that may require wheelchair access to upper floor bedrooms and other spaces.

How to Make the Whole Home Wheelchair Friendly

To make the rest of the home accessible, you must examine hallway widths and how you will get people and goods to the second floor. Check the lighting levels throughout the home in all rooms. Do not allow light to cast shadows along corridors or in the moving spaces of rooms. Exchange incandescent light bulbs with energy-efficient LED lights. These lights will last longer and offer more light while using less electricity, so you can choose higher wattages for increased brightness in darker areas.

Universal design principles recommend corridors measure at least 36 inches wide. Keep the floor clear of obstacles and do not allow any furnishings to impede movement. This means tables and bookcases must still allow for at least three feet of maneuverable space on the floor along the entire length of every corridor or hallway.

To facilitate the movement of wheelchair wheels over the flooring, replace all carpeting and throw rugs that could bunch and catch wheels with smoother options. Hardwood floors, ceramic tile, laminate flooring or vinyl can make using a wheelchair easier through the home. Reassess the flooring throughout the home, not just in the hallways. Bedrooms, living rooms, bathrooms, kitchens and corridors all need smooth flooring.

In addition to moving throughout each floor of the home, you also must consider means to move between levels. Home elevators fit into almost any home design and provide a safe, convenient way to move in a wheelchair to another level. Dumbwaiters raise items between floors, making daily chores easier.

home elevators for wheelchairs

1. Home Elevators for Wheelchairs

Home elevators offer several benefits over other means of changing floors. Unlike stair lifts, elevators can fit inside an easily hidden closet. They also have numerous customization options, while you cannot alter the appearance of stair lifts. Because anyone can use an elevator, adding one increases the value of the home; however, a stair lift does not raise your home’s value. Stair lifts also impede progress up the stairway for those who choose to walk.

You have three choices for the drive system of your elevator, depending on the availability of space. All three systems — cable drum, hydraulic and MRL overhead cable drum — offer similar safety features such as an overrun switch, emergency battery lowering and a self-diagnostic processor.

The differences between these drive systems include the amount of space the motor requires and how far the elevator can move. Cable drum systems take up the least amount of space and operate the quietest. MRL overhead cable drums have the smallest space between floors, making them ideal for split-level homes or those with half-stories. Hydraulic systems from Inclinator use much less fluid than competitors. All three elevator types have similar speeds of 40-feet per minute and reach up to six stories.

To customize the elevator, you choose from five cab styles and 18 cab configurations, including the gate type and the number of openings. These gates are safety features, holding the occupant securely inside until the elevator reaches the desired floor.

A home elevator enhances mobility for those who use wheelchairs as well as everyone else in the home. Unlike stair lifts, home elevators provide a more universal accessibility option for all people.

2. Dumbwaiters

Carrying food, laundry or other goods throughout the home becomes easier with dumbwaiters. Our residential models from Inclinator support up to 120 pounds and make as many as four stops. A dumbwaiter runs off your home’s electricity using a standard 120-volt power source, and you can choose the style of the exterior door to match the décor of the home.

Dumbwaiters have a fascinating history that highlights these appliances’ usefulness. These devices originated as hand-powered lifts to move merchandise, ore and similar goods from basements and mines to upper levels. Later, these lifts migrated to the homes of the wealthy where they moved food from the kitchen to dining areas. They served the same purpose in restaurants where they silently brought food to the level of patrons, giving them their outdated name of dumbwaiters.

Though many have forgotten the origin of the name, the dumbwaiter still performs the same task in homes today. Instead of using manual power, though, electricity automatically moves the loads between floors. While older versions had weight limits based on what the user could hoist, today’s dumbwaiters can carry up to 120 pounds in homes, and even more for commercial models.

Install a dumbwaiter between the basement and kitchen to bring groceries up. You can use it to move dirty clothes from an upper floor bathroom down to the laundry room. Once washed, dried and folded, you can move the cleaned towels and clothes back upstairs via the dumbwaiter.

A dumbwaiter allows a person in a wheelchair to move items between floors without needing to worry about trying to balance them on their lap. These devices also make moving things between floors safer for those who use the stairs. Children and others will have less chance of tripping if they have both hands free to hold the stair rail instead of carrying things in their arms.

How to Make Home Entrances Wheelchair Accessible

You must do more than just make the exterior door accessible when it comes to making the front wheelchair friendly. You need to have a way to get from the driveway to the front, side and back doors either walking, from a wheelchair or using any type of mobility aid.

Ensure footpaths are flat and smooth the entire extent and have a width to accommodate wheelchairs. Replace gravel or paving stone walkways with smooth concrete or continuous outdoor tiles. You will also need a way to reach the door since most homes have a door built higher than the front lawn.

While you can build a ramp, you must use the lowest slope possible and make it at least 36 inches wide to accommodate a wheelchair. Depending on the rise the ramp needs to make, it could be extremely long. A more space-saving option is adding a wheelchair lift.

Select a wheelchair lift based on the vertical distance it needs to cover. For instance, our Inclinator Serenity standard model has lifting heights of 28, 52, 72 and 105 inches. The premium version offers lift heights of 52, 72 and 105 inches. Like our elevators, these lifts have several features to ensure their continued reliability and safety.

Both models have an emergency stop that includes an alarm to alert others that the user needs assistance. Additionally, the ramps on both models fold up automatically to hold the user safely inside. The premium model automatically detects objects under the lift and stop the device from descending.

How to Make Bathrooms and Kitchens Wheelchair Friendly

The hardest working places in the home are the kitchen and bathroom. Making these rooms wheelchair friendly may cost the least and be the easiest because accessories to adapt these spaces are not expensive and are readily available.

bathroom upgrades for wheelchair accessibility

Inside the bathroom, install grab bars for the tub, shower and toilet. The bars will likely require you to reinforce the walls because they must hold at least 250 pounds, regardless of the weight of the user. Though bathrooms, especially half baths, are small rooms, ensure at least a 30-by-48-inch clear space on the floor for a wheelchair to move around in.

Depending on the wheelchair user’s level of mobility, consider a roll-in shower that allows the user to get inside the shower stall from their chair. A handheld showerhead makes it easier to bathe when seated.

Raise the toilet seat and lower the sink to improve accessibility. If the sink uses knobs, replace them with easy-to-use handles that do not require gripping strength to turn. Don’t forget to make similar changes to the kitchen sink. While focusing on plumbing, lower the water heater temperature to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature saves energy while preventing scald burns, especially in children or those who cannot quickly move away from the water stream.

In the kitchen, allow for multiple users by lowering several work surfaces to allow for those in a wheelchair to use them, but leave other working areas for standing users. Have at least one sink in the kitchen at a working height for someone in a wheelchair. Consider a side-by-side refrigerator-freezer unit to allow for access to both sides while seated. Choose a stovetop with controls on the front for easier use.

Making a home wheelchair accessible also makes it easier for everyone to move through it. With additions such as home elevators and dumbwaiters, you will also increase the home’s value. Greater value for a home that adapts to everyone’s needs is a combination that benefits all those in the home.

inclinator can help make home wheelchair accessible

Find the Components You Need to Improve Mobility at Home

Specialty components, such as elevators and dumbwaiters, require finding knowledgeable dealers who stock quality brands. If you want to incorporate an Inclinator elevator, lift or dumbwaiter into your home, find a dealer near you. For a multi-story home, safe and reliable lift systems that help with the mobility of people and items should be priorities for making your home wheelchair friendly.

How to Choose a Home Elevator: A Buyer’s Guide for Homeowners

home elevator buyers guide

Once you decide to buy a home elevator, you can choose from several options for styles, locations and features. Making the right selections for your lifestyle and home will give you the best return on your investment while giving your living space a safe, secure means of transportation between floors.

How to Choose a Home Elevator: Step-By-Step Guide

how to choose a home elevator

The steps to choosing a home elevator include examining your home, lifestyle and needs. You must make several decisions about features and operations. Fortunately, you are not alone in this process. When you go to a dealer for a home elevator, you can learn about how various technical components work and make a better choice on which of these suits your home and available space.

choose a location for your home elevator

1. Choose a Location in the Home

Where you install the elevator in your home will be a critical choice. You need it to be convenient for use while allowing for space to hide the drive equipment. If possible, try to install the device near the stairs in your home to allow for two people going to another floor to meet near each other, even if one takes the elevator and the other takes the stairs.

Areas near the stairs often are ideal for installing home elevators, anyway, thanks to the reinforced structure around the stairs and additional free space available. You may need an adjacent room next to the elevator to house the lifting equipment, depending on the model you select.

Where you enter and exit the elevator are also important factors when thinking about the site. Because you can choose where you locate the gates, you can pick a place where you enter and exit the elevator from opposite sides or even at 90-degree angles.

Good locations for elevators in the home include from the garage to the living area, from the living area to an upper hall near a bedroom or inside lower level halls to upper levels. The layout of your home and where you most often travel through it will help you find a location that provides the most convenient means of moving between floors.

Once you know where you will install the elevator, your work continues with customizing the cab and operating system. Not all brands offer you the same choices for tailoring the design to your tastes.

choose a cab style for your home elevator

2. Choose a Cab Style

With five different cab styles, Inclinator elevators give you multiple interior options to match your home’s décor and your personal preferences. You won’t get these same options from other companies. Talk to your local Inclinator dealer about your cab style choices.

The 100 cab comes standard on Inclinator elevators. These cabs can be up to 15 square feet or larger depending on local building codes. The plain white walls of this cab give you the chance to paint or adorn them as desired. A commercial-grade laminate floor with a neutral-colored wood grain finish ensures a good grip for wheelchair wheels and a flat surface. A white ceiling helps this cab model to feel brighter by aiding light reflection from the fixtures you choose for the top of the space.

If you would like to upgrade the interior of the cab to a luxurious hardwood interior on the walls and ceiling, choose the 200 cab model. You will still enjoy the simple coloring of the same laminate flooring used in the 100 model, but the walls and ceilings have real wood. We have many kinds of wood available for the wall finish options. You will choose the wood type during the customization step for the cab.

Just like the 200 cab, the 300 model includes hardwood walls and ceiling. The difference between the two is the addition of decorative molding on the 300. Inside the 300 cab, you will find picture frame molding in the bottom half, chair railing around the middle, baseboard on the bottom and crown molding at the top. These trim additions enhance the appearance of the wood walls with texture.

With the 400 cab, you have various panel options to have in the wood walls and ceiling. Unlike the 100 and 200 cars, which use a standard commercial laminate flooring, the cabs with model numbers 300, 400 and 500 give you the option to choose an unfinished base that allows you to use the same floor covering in your home at the bottom of the elevator. You can also replace some of the wall panels with acrylic, allowing you to see out of the elevator.

The most luxurious model, the 500 cab, features a modern aesthetic with its aluminum frame and acrylic ceiling. You have options for the frame color, including white, black and silver. Clear panels on all sides allow for the greatest amount of visibility from inside this elevator cab.

While the cab options give you customization for the interior, all offer similar standard safety features — handrail, ceiling lights, gates compliant with 2016 ASME code, interlocks to prevent access to the well while the elevator moves and emergency battery backup to lower the elevator to the lowest level in power outages. You also have the option to include a phone in the cab or automatic door opening.

customize the cab for your home elevator

3. Customize the Cab

You can customize several features in the interior of the cab — handrail, flooring, ceiling, walls, light fixtures and control panels. Adapting these to your preferences will improve how well the cab fits into your home’s style.

First, choose whether you want the standard or a custom handrail. The basic design is a flat wooden handle. We include a bar inside the elevator for safety, but you can choose a more appealing design if the flat wood does not appeal to you. Other options include rounded handrails made of metal. You have three choices for finishes — stainless, bronze and brass. Texturing ensures each of these is easy to grip.

Next, choose the flooring. Our standard floor is laminate with a faux-wood finish. You can choose the wood the floor resembles. Options include walnut, cherry, oak and maple. For some cab models, you can also get unfinished oak wood or choose to leave the floor unfinished to have your home’s flooring extend into the elevator.

The ceiling options depend on the type of cab you pick. For the 100 cab, the ceiling has a white color that comes standard. Other cabs, 200, 300 and 400, provide you the option of choosing to leave the top white or have it match the finish of the walls. The 500 can has a clear dome of acrylic on the ceiling for improved lighting and view.

The wall finishes also depend on your cab selection. Models 200, 300 and 400 give you a choice of various woods for the walls inside the cab:

  • Alder
  • Cherry
  • Dark Oak
  • Medium oak
  • Red Oak
  • Mahogany
  • Maple
  • Walnut

If you have a 400 model, you must also find the configuration of the panels you prefer. Choose between raised or recessed panels. Also, for the walls, you have two main options — one panel over a second or a pair over two others of the same width. Both choices have crown molding. For the ceiling, you can select one, two or four panels.

In addition to the style of the cab’s interior, you can also choose the colors of the lights and panel, which are among the electrical component decisions you will need to make.

4. Choose the Electrical Components

While you have a pair of LED lights as standard inside the elevator, you may have as many as four lights. The finishes for the lights include white in the center and on the circular frame or white in the middle with a bronze exterior.

choose the electrical components for your home elevator

You can select electrical panel styles that include color and whether you want a flush or raised panel. The color options are brushed brass, stainless and oil rubbed bronze. You have these same choices for the hall stations.

If desired, you can incorporate an automatic gate or door openers into the elevator. For those who experience difficulty opening the gate on their own, automated operation will make using the elevator more accessible. The automatic door feature also benefits those who prefer the added convenience of not needing to have a free hand when getting into or off the elevator after opening the gate.

Another electrical option you have is a telephone incorporated into the wall of the elevator. You would use this to call in an emergency while inside. It does require an analog phone line to function.

choose the elevator gates and operators for your home elevator

5. Choose Elevator Gates and Operators

You get the choice of accordion or scissor gates for the elevator and manual or automatic operation.

The accordion gates have panels that completely cover the interior of the elevator. You can choose clear or bronze acrylic panels if you prefer to see through the door. Other panel options are vinyl or hardwood in a variety of colors and designs. You may also select the finish of the aluminum frame — silver, gold or bronze. This gate style is the only one that has automation as an option.

Scissor gates have a classic appearance and open manually. You may choose silver aluminum or oil-rubbed bronze for the finish of these openings. The design of these gates showcases the distinctive scissor-looking hinges that allow the gate to fold to one side.

If you select an accordion gate, you may also choose to install an automatic gate operator. We also will install automatic door openers for the doors that cover the entrances to the elevator shaft at each level. These move the gate or door open automatically when needed, making the elevator easier to use and more convenient.

6. Choose a Drive System

The drive system is one of the most technical choices you will need to make for your home elevator. Your local Inclinator dealer can help you decide which is best for your home. You want to make certain you have enough space to operate the drive system. Carefully measure the available space to be sure you have the correct measurements to reference when making your choice.

Also, determine the maximum amount of travel distance you need. While all three drive systems can accommodate six separate landings, the machine-roomless (MRL) cable drum system has a travel distance of 40 feet, while cable drum and hydraulic systems can move 50 feet up.

The machine-roomless cable drum system has the mechanism installed at the top of the shaft. You do not need a separate room for the drive system. If you have more height available, you may prefer this option. It also has the smallest required distance between floors, so you can install this to reach half-floors or loft areas of your split-level home.

If you don’t have as much space for the elevator shaft but do have a separate room for the lift equipment, consider hydraulic or cable drum elevators. Inclinator’s hydraulic home elevator requires less fluid for the system than other brands do. The cable drum system offers the versatility for a smaller 500-pound capacity elevator with 12 square feet of cab space. This smaller space requires 6 inches of pit depth compared to 10 inches for 1,000-pound capacity elevators.

Regardless of the drive system you choose, you will get a microprocessor that reliably tells you if anything is wrong with the system as well as what is wrong. Additionally, these three drive mechanisms offer redundant safety features to keep the operation going even in an emergency. Emergency lighting and a separate battery to lower the elevator to the ground slowly both activate in a power loss. The hoisting mechanism uses a robust monorail system that lifts the supporting base under the lift.

Inclinator elevators offer these safety features to keep anyone who uses the elevator protected in emergencies that cause power outages.

find an authorized inclinator dealer

7. Find an Authorized Dealer of the Manufacturer

Once you’ve made your choices, contact an authorized Inclinator dealer. You can readily find one near you with our dealer locator. When you find a dealer near you, you will also find people who can help you make the best choices for your home elevator and get it in your home for greater mobility.

Common FAQs on Home Elevators

common FAQs about home elevators

If you aren’t sure whether a home elevator is for you, you probably still have some questions. Getting answers to these will help you make an informed decision. Researching information about home elevators puts you in an excellent position to also make quality choices when customizing your device. Here are some common concerns people have about home elevator systems.

1. How Much Do Home Elevators Cost?

The average cost for home elevator installation in the United States is $40,000. This amount depends heavily on where you live, local installation costs, taxes, type of drive system, size of the elevator, extra work for retrofitting and custom options.

While the costs may increase as you choose more custom options, this home elevator will likely be the only one you want for your home. It could also increase your home’s value, giving you a return on what you spend to install the elevator. Make the most of your investment by selecting choices that make it as comfortable and useful as possible.

2. What Safety Features Do Home Elevators Have?

Not all home elevators adhere to safety standards outlined in the ASME A17.1-2016 code. This code remains voluntary in many parts of the country, but the guidelines ensure the safe construction of home elevators. At Inclinator, we regularly review our safety features and design to ensure we stay in compliance with these standards for the security of anyone who uses our products.

Home elevators have many safety features inside to protect the rider. Inclinator installs emergency features such as lighting and battery-powered lowering. To prevent doors at landings from opening if the elevator is on another floor, we install interlocks on the doors, which block access to the empty well to protect others in the home while someone uses the elevator.

Our elevators have a switch inside that prevents the system from moving if you have the gate open. This action reduces the chances of someone getting caught by a moving cab. Additionally, if the power shuts off, the elevator does not stop between floors. A backup battery lowers it to the ground and emergency lights come on.

For those who stand while riding the elevator, we install a handrail in all our cabs. This railing helps to keep the rider steady throughout the ride.

Always ask about the safety features of an elevator before deciding on a brand for your home because not all manufacturers offer the same safety options for their products.

3. How Much Space Do I Need for a Home Elevator?

The amount of space you need for your home elevator depends on the drive system. For example, cable drum systems require space in the shaft as well as another room for the equipment. The same is true of hydraulic elevators. MRL elevators do not need a separate room, but they require extra space at the top of the shaft.

Our cabs have a standard 15 square foot size, but you can also opt for a smaller 12 square foot cab if you choose a cable drum system. Because elevators will need space for the pit, cab and machinery, talk to a dealer for information about specifics for the model and drive system you want.

4. How Many Floors Can a Home Elevator Travel?

The number of floors a home elevator can reach depends significantly on the brand. Inclinator models can access six levels, but not all brands can. If you have a tall home, ask about the total travel distance the elevator can reach.

5. Does a Home Elevator Add Resale Value to My House?

With a population that continues to grow older, the United States is the perfect place to build a home elevator as an investment. If you plan to sell your home in the future, having a home elevator adds to its value, especially since homebuyers may have aging family members, want to grow old in the home or have a personal need for extra accessibility.

While stair lifts generally do nothing for your home’s value, a home elevator can increase your home’s resale value by 10%, making this decision a valuable investment in your future.

find an authorized inclinator dealer

Take the Next Step in Choosing a Home Elevator

You can continue to live in your home, regardless of your mobility level, by adding accessibility features, such as an elevator. A home elevator is safe and reliable and can raise your home’s value while improving your ability to move throughout the house. Now you know how to choose a home elevator, you need to find out where to get one.

Whether you know exactly what you want or need some help choosing, an Inclinator dealer can help you get the elevator that will fit your home and needs. Find your nearest Inclinator dealer to start the process of getting an elevator in your home.

Aging in Place Home Improvement Ideas

Growing old in your home has become a dream for many Americans. With the Baby Boomers creeping past retirement age, lots of people are looking for ways they or their parents can modify their homes in order to grow older there.

Aging at home has countless advantages. People feel comfortable in the houses where they raised their families. They may feel scared of moving to a place where they won’t know other people. A home may hold treasured memories of spouses who have passed away. It can also offer comforting familiarity to someone entering the early stages of memory loss.

Aging in place does require some advanced planning. When you take steps such as installing a wheelchair lift, home dumbwaiters or a home elevator, it can become less daunting.

7 Aging in Place Home Improvement Ideas

Set up your home to anticipate issues you or your loved one may face while growing older. Installing new appliances and removing items that lack long-term practicality will make aging in place much easier. We recommend the following seven home improvement ideas to transform your house.

1. Place Grab Bars

Many older adults develop mobility issues. Installing grab bars in parts of the house that pose the highest risk to low-mobility individuals can reduce the chances of an accident. Grab bars are metal bars attached to the wall, strategically positioned in places where you might need extra support. You may want to install grab bars:

  • On either side of the toilet
  • In the shower
  • Next to your bed

Make sure to use sturdy grab bars that can support the weight of whoever will use them. Most grab bars can hold up to 250 pounds. If you need something with more capacity, you may have to look into specially made bars.

Anyone can install grab bars, though it does demand a precise approach. The bars should be at the right height for the person they’re meant to help, so ask that person to remain nearby when you install so that you can take measurements. Screw the bars into wall studs so that they won’t pop out.

2. Use Outdoor Ramps or a Wheelchair Lift

Many homes require you to climb at least one or two stairs to get to the front door. As you age, this process becomes more difficult, and not just for people in wheelchairs. Older adults may struggle with their balance, which makes navigating stairs difficult. You have two choices to address this problem:

  • Outdoor ramp: If you do not currently use a wheelchair, this installation may be your best option, as you can still navigate an outdoor ramp if you do get a wheelchair later. Unless you have experience with carpentry or contracting, you’ll likely need to employ a contractor to get this work done.
  • Wheelchair lift: A residential wheelchair lift works like the one you would install in a van. It raises and lowers a wheelchair so that you can get from the ground to the porch and wheel yourself in the door. This solution requires professional installation.

3. Install a Home Elevator

As you age, navigating stairs becomes more difficult. Many older adults who do not require the use of a wheelchair may still suffer from balance issues. Diabetes and other conditions common among older adults can impair feet and legs, which makes stair usage more difficult. If you have a multi-story home, consider installing a home elevator.

Home elevators offer a practical, affordable solution to being unable to go up or down stairs. An elevator installed with your customized options will allow you to stay in your home for a longer time and alleviate worries about falling down the stairs or being unable to get down from a higher floor. When you get your elevator installed, look for these features:

  • Handrails inside the cab
  • Simple and intuitive operating panel
  • LED ceiling lights

If you have specific design requests, you can even choose a company that will allow you to have a professional designer customize the final look of the inside of the cab. This investment will even pay off by raising the resale value of your house.

4. Change Flooring

You may love the gorgeous high-pile carpet you had installed in your living room a decade ago. But as you age, you need to adjust your flooring to meet your mobility requirements. If you use a walker, for instance, plush carpeting will impede your ability to get across the room. Those in wheelchairs may prefer no carpeting at all. You should discuss your special requirements with a flooring professional who can recommend solutions specific to your situation and home layout.

Other ideas for redoing your floors include the following:

  • Make flooring contrast when the height of the surface changes between rooms as a signal that it goes up or down.
  • Install gentle up and down ramps from each room to ease the surface transition.
  • Put a firm pad beneath any carpeting.
  • Pick a carpet that’s less than a half-inch high.
  • For rooms without carpet, install non-glare, smooth surfaces that also resist slips.

5. Update Lighting

As you get older, your eyesight often gets worse. You may have trouble seeing objects both close and far away. Adjusting your light can assist you with this problem. You’ll want more and stronger lighting. Some areas you should concentrate on include:

  • Task lighting: Improve the lighting where you perform tasks, such as in your garage or kitchen, to decrease the odds of hurting yourself while you work.
  • Stairs: Add lights on stairs to aid you with getting up and down, which becomes harder when you have balance issues or problems with feet or leg function.
  • Closets: If you don’t have overhead lights in your closets, add them so that you can see what you’re looking for.

In addition to improving your lighting, you want to make it accessible. Those who use wheelchairs may want to move light switches down. May older adults find their fine motor skills declining, so swapping out light switches for pads or dimmers may make it easier to turn lights on and off. In addition, adding more light switches, such as one on either side of a room, means you won’t have to cross over a room just to turn out a light.

6. Incorporate a Home Dumbwaiter

Carrying groceries up your stairs becomes more challenging as you age. You could hurt a hip or end up in the hospital if you fall on the stairs while trying to bring food from your car to your kitchen. Installing a home dumbwaiter will give you a new way to complete this task. Dumbwaiters are essentially small elevators that you can send from floor to floor carrying inanimate objects. You can get them with automated controls and to match your home interior to make floor-to-floor transportation a breeze.

7. Install Arthritis-Friendly Knobs

Many individuals over the age of 65 suffer from arthritis, which can make it difficult to grasp things in their hands. Arthritis-friendly knobs have levels you only have to push down to enter. Replace knobs throughout the home, including ones for closets and front doors.

These changes to your home will make aging in place much easier. Do you need assistance with a home elevator or dumbwaiter installation? If so, contact us to set up an appointment, or find a dealer near you.

Do I Need Annual Home Elevator Maintenance?

As more and more people choose to enjoy the convenience of an elevator in their home, they also start asking the same question: Do they need annual home elevator maintenance?

The short answer to that question is yes. The better you take care of your elevator, the longer it will last, and annual maintenance plays a role in that preventative care. Is it possible to skip an annual? Yes, but we wouldn’t put it off for too long. Elevators are complex machines, and all complex machines require attentiveness. We’ve put together a guide to determine when you should get maintenance, and we’ve also outlined the benefits of this service.

How Often Do Home Elevators Need Maintenance?

Generally speaking, the more maintenance you perform on your elevator, the better. The best way to ensure these machines continue to run smoothly is to address small problems before they turn into big ones, and if you go for more than a year without home elevator maintenance, you may find yourself dealing with some big problems.

How often you should get maintenance for your home elevator depends on a number of factors, such as:

  • Model: What type of elevator you installed may impact how often your elevator requires maintenance. Depending on the type, it could even require more frequent inspections than annually. You may have parts that need more vigilant attention. Consult with the company that installed your elevator to find out their recommendation. We always talk to our customers about maintenance needs when we install a home elevator.
  • Contract: You may have a contract with the installation company that designates a certain number of inspections. If so, you should take advantage of those opportunities and get the service. That’s one less thing you’ll have to think about if inspections are already scheduled to occur.
  • Location: Does your town have any regulations regarding home elevator usage and inspection? Some municipalities put these regulations in place as a precaution to ensure homeowners take proper care of their elevators and don’t run into long-term troubles. You should contact your local city government to inquire about any inspection regulations. You should do so when you have your elevator installed as well to discuss any permits or fees that might be required.

Benefits of Regular Home Elevator Maintenance

Why should you get regular maintenance for your home elevator? It’s really a matter of preservation for your investment. The more attention you give the elevator’s upkeep, the longer it will last and the more efficiently it will run. You likely see similar results for other appliances or tools. When you question whether you should get your annual inspection, keep the following five advantages of regular maintenance in mind:

  1. Save money: Repairing a snagged wire or replacing a small component won’t cost a lot of money, but if that snagged wire snaps or the component breaks, it could cause serious damage to the rest of the elevator, which will take a lot of money to fix. By addressing small matters when they come up, you can decrease the likelihood of a serious issue arising with your elevator and save yourself those expenses.
  2. Gain peace of mind: Your family uses your elevator every day. You want to keep them safe, and knowing that your elevator has been examined, inspected and given a thumbs up will give you reassurance. Regular elevator maintenance is insurance against worrying about whether all your parts are up to date or your cables are worn.
  3. Form a habit: You don’t think twice about scheduling your annual car inspection because it’s a habit. It’s something you do every year, and it has become second nature. Getting regular elevator maintenance can become a habit too. In fact, you may even want to schedule it the same month as your car inspections so you have a reminder that it’s that time of year.
  4. Trust an expert: If you use a home elevator maintenance checklist, you can take care of a number of small items yourself. For instance, you can find scratches in a ceiling or a burnt-out light. But you may need assistance to identify the more serious issues. Finding an expert you trust to perform an inspection also gives you someone to call if your elevator exhibits a problem. Knowing and trusting your elevator mechanic will set you up for a better experience overall.
  5. Learn more about your elevator: Many people who get elevators in their homes are fascinated by mechanical gadgets. Practicing annual elevator maintenance will give you a chance to indulge this side of your personality. You might even find yourself looking forward to it!

Are you interested in learning more about home elevator maintenance? Or have you been thinking about getting a home elevator and want to know your options? Contact us today by filling out our online form or finding a dealer near you. We look forward to helping you!

Home Elevator Maintenance Checklist

Do you have an elevator in your home? To ensure it continues to run properly, you need to practice home elevator maintenance just as you would for a car. Think of it as preventative care. If you can spot a problem with the elevator early, you can address it, and it won’t grow into a bigger issue. So how do you know what you should be looking for?

Proper Maintenance Checklist From Home Elevator Professionals

We’ve put together a checklist you can follow to ensure you give every part of the elevator proper care. Set aside time to do this inspection regularly, and work methodically through each piece of the checklist.

Inside the Cab

Complete these five steps inside the cab:

  1. Test and replace any burned-out indicator lights.
  2. Look over the walls, handrails and ceiling of the cab and note any damage, such as scratches or cracks.
  3. Examine the deceleration, acceleration and leveling accuracy of the cab while it’s in motion, if anything it out of whack, it may require some adjustments.
  4. Test the door restrictor. If it isn’t working the right way, you should find an elevator specialist to make some small repairs.
  5. Watch the door open and close. Does it bounce or slam? It should go back and forth smoothly.

Did you note anything you couldn’t fix yourself? Start a running list of issues with the elevator. At the end of your checklist, you may need to call in a professional to assist you, and it will help if you can tell them exactly what the problems are.

Outside the Cab

Use these three steps to check the outside of the cab:

  1. Look over the lights and hall stations, swapping out any that aren’t working.
  2. Examine the clearances and the door panel.
  3. Test the Phase 1 firefighters’ service to ensure it works.

Drive System

Before you begin these three steps for the drive system, get anything that isn’t supposed to be in the machine room out. Next:

  1. Measure your oil levels, adding some if they’re low.
  2. Search electrical components to see if they have overheated or failed.
  3. Look for leaks, vibration or wear on other components, and lubricate them if needed.

The drive system may require professional assistance if you note anything wrong. While you can probably change out lights and add oil yourself, more complex issues should be handled by someone with experience because you might make the problem worse if you handle it yourself.

Top of Cab

The top of the cab requires a patient examination. Complete these six steps in order:

  1. Dust off anything that may have accumulated on the top of the cab.
  2. Inspect the function of the inspection station and stop switch.
  3. Look over all the components within your view, including leveling devices and rollers.
  4. Examine the door operator to make sure it functions correctly.
  5. Search for signs of wear on the traveling cables. Test connections to make sure they work.
  6. Look carefully for evidence of rodents or vandalism in the hoistway. This step is also a good time to ensure fire safety in the space.

Pit

Finally, your last stop should be checking out the pit using the following six steps:

  1. Check for leaks.
  2. Search for corrosion on the spring buffers, and check that they align properly.
  3. Inspect switches, safeties, rollers and all other visible components for wear.
  4. Examine the travel cable for pinches or snags.
  5. Test the GFI outlet, stop switch and lights.
  6. Finish by looking at the sump pump and making that it’s functioning correctly.

How to Find a Home Elevator Maintenance Expert

After your self-check, you may need someone to help you with repairs or take a second look at a component. Contact us to discuss your needs or find your local Inclinator dealer.

Home Elevator vs. Stair Lift

home elevator living room

Many homes have more than one level, and most of them require climbing up and down the stairs to access those levels. Unfortunately, not everyone can manage this movement. Whether your home includes someone in a wheelchair or you have an aging parent who has difficulty navigating stairs on their own, you need an alternative to assist your loved one with moving from floor to floor.

The good news is, you have options. Home elevators and stair lifts both provide vital assistance to people who cannot climb stairs. Which one offers a better fit for your household? Let’s explore the possibilities.

Pros of a Home Elevator

  • Flexible installation locations throughout your home
  • Complete configuration and design customization
  • Safest and most improved home mobility
  • Increase in home value

Home elevators offer many benefits. They prove a convenient way for residents who use wheelchairs or experience difficulty walking to move between the floors of your home and are intuitive to operate. Our home elevators can accommodate up to six levels, making the journey to the attic or basement much faster for those with limited mobility.

Here are some of the biggest advantages of choosing a home elevator over a stair lift.

1. Flexible Installation Locations

You can put your home elevator practically anywhere in the house — you’re not limited to a single area. Imagine the possibilities. You could have the elevator in the back of your home, where guests can’t see it, or make it the focal point of the entryway. You may decide to place it near the bedroom of the person who most needs its services. Stair lifts, by contrast, can only be placed in one area of the home — on the stairs.

2. Customizable Configuration and Design

Stair lifts can be difficult to disguise within a home’s aesthetic and often draw unwarranted attention. You can customize the design of your elevator to meet your decor preferences. Do you love modern? Traditional? Even something with a little country flair is fair game when you get to pick the design. You’ll even have options for the configuration that powers your system, such as:

  • Cable drum
  • MRL overhead cable drum
  • Hydraulic

3. Safe and Improved Home Mobility

Elevators give those with limited mobility a chance to do things independently. They can get into and out of the elevator by themselves, unlike with a stair lift, where they may require assistance. Elevators are safe spaces, too. Handrails give people something to lean on. They don’t have to balance in a moving chair that could stop or start unexpectedly. With an elevator, they can take control of their movement — which many people appreciate.

4. Increases Home Resale Value

Home improvements often increase the resale value of a home. An elevator is an especially valuable addition because it makes the house accessible to more people. When you pay for an elevator in your home, you’re making an investment in the future. Not only will the resale value of your home rise, but you’ll also attract more people interested in your house because of that versatility.

5. Safety and Reliability

Today’s home elevators include a variety of safety features, helping you move around your home with ease and peace of mind. Additional safety features like space guards can ensure safety, especially for children who may use a home elevator. A phone inside the elevator, an emergency stop, lights and more help keep everyone safe. By riding an elevator, guests and family members can avoid falls on a staircase and access your home safely.

Cons of Stair Lifts

  • Difficult to conceal and sticks out in your home’s design
  • Limited to no customization to match your home
  • Does not add to home resale value
  • Bulky equipment that takes up staircase space

Stair lifts provide another option for those with limited mobility get around the house. However, unlike elevators, stair lifts come with several drawbacks. Their limited range and single-rider design are a few of the more apparent efficiencies of stair lifts. Here are some of the other cons of installing a stair lift.

Difficult to Conceal

Everyone can see stair lifts and they are often not the most attractive addition. There’s no cover or drape that you can put over it. Visitors and guests will instantly see the bulky lift — there are few options on the market for disguising stair lifts.

Few Design Options

With an elevator, you can choose the cab style, the design and the types of materials used. Stair lifts are far less easy to customize. Essentially all chair lifts have the same design. You may not even have a choice of color, depending on where you get your lift.

Does Not Increase Home Resale Value

Stair lifts are not a highly desirable feature in a home, so they won’t raise the resale price of your house. You won’t get back the money you put into installing the stair lift. In fact, you may even limit the number of potential buyers. If someone doesn’t want a stair lift in their home, they’ll have to pay to have it removed, which is a high initial cost. They’ll likely look at other houses instead.

Takes up Stair Space

Many homes have relatively narrow stairways. Some also have steep stairways. Just getting up and down these stairwells under normal circumstances can feel challenging. When you add a stair lift, you narrow the existing space even more. The addition of a stair lift can make residents and guests feel like they have to squeeze themselves around the lift just to get up and down the stairs.

That lack of space can also make it more difficult to do everyday tasks such as bringing in groceries or moving something from one floor to the other. The chair on the stair lift will get in the way. If the staircase is narrow enough, lifts can potentially create safety hazards if people must dramatically maneuver around them.

Shop Home Elevators

If you’re trying to decide between a stair lift and a home elevator, the answer is probably clear to you now. You can receive more value, enjoy more versatility and get more return from a home elevator. And with so many options to choose from, you’re sure to find something that fits your house perfectly.

Are you ready to begin shopping? We have a selection of home elevators to suit your unique needs. Our dedicated team can discuss the best options for your home based on size, style and budget. Get in touch with us today by calling 800-343-9007 or contact your local dealer to get started. We look forward to helping you.


Updated: 12/06/2019