Most consumers embarking on a stairlift search in Dallas tend to start with the same basic questions. These core questions need to be understood so that a person can determine for themselves if a stairlift is a good option or even a viable option at all. Finding answers can be tough and information is often scattered around the internet. With this stair lift guide, we hope to educate and decrease the learning curve on making a great stair lift decision.
The short answer is typically stairlift costs are not paid for by either Medicare or Medicaid. Motorized mobility devices such as stair lifts are somewhat deemed a luxury by many Government and State Agencies. There may be certain waiver programs available in your area that you may be eligible for, but typically these programs are geared towards children with disabilities. I have occasionally heard of stairlifts and like equipment getting approved by Medicare, but generally it was the result of a coding and processing error that allowed the product to be approved by mistake. I would not rely on Medicare or Medicaid to be the funding source for your stairlift needs.
Similar to Medicare or Medicaid, even high-end private insurance policies generally have no provisions for stair lifts or patient lifting equipment. We have recently seen a situation in which an insurance customer was even provided a letter from his national insurance carrier stating that he was approved for a stairlift. As the evaluation process developed, it was determined that while the customer was technically approved for the chairlift, that the insurance company themselves had no way of coding or processing the transaction. They could not provide any information as to the amount or even the eventual success of getting the stairlift paid for. They eventually recommended the customer pay out of pocket up front and then request for special consideration and reimbursement. The customer was not able to pay himself and thus was not able to purchase the lift.
There is a wide range of pricing on stairlifts that will be determined by your unique situation and staircase design. A standard straight rail stairlift that is a base model from a reputable company will start about $3,000 and could increase to $6,000 depending on the options selected. If your staircase happens to have any turns or bends in its design, then you are jumping into the world of custom curved rail stair lifts with prices that will start around $10,000 and could be as high as $25,000 depending on the number of turns and track length. In certain staircases, you may be able to put in multiple straight rail chairlifts for a price that is less than producing one custom curved stair lift.
While typically not the first question asked by a customer, this is probably the most important stairlift question to understand if you are to have an enjoyable chair lift experience. In the internet age in which we live, it is very easy for a company in another state to appear as if they are local. They can get a local area code assigned as their phone number and then simply rent a Post Office box to provide them with a “physical address” for their website. At the end of the day, you think you are calling someone in your neighborhood, when in reality they may be in another country. If you eventually purchase a stairlift from that company, they will actually need to find an installer in your area. Typically this means they would be looking to hire a local handyman or a variety of other unlicensed laborers to install the lift. Consumers don’t typically realize that stair lifts are regulated under elevator codes and in many areas require licensed elevator technicians to do the installations and get inspections. Why would you let an untrained, unlicensed person who has never put in a stairlift get there first installation experience in your home?
Expanding on this same scenario where a random handyman was paid for the day to come install your stairlift; who is actually going to repair the lift if a maintenance issue should arise? The handyman will not have any interest in coming back for free or even honoring the product warranty. This person is not a dealer, cannot order parts, and has limited product knowledge to even diagnose the issue. If you call the manufacturer or online company you purchased from, they will tell you to call the installer. Unfortunately the customer is stuck with a broken lift and no help locally. Even the local, reputable stairlift dealers will not be able to help you as they likely don’t carry or work with the online brand you previously purchased.
There are two different business models at play here. Local dealers generally only carry reputable brands of stair lifts as they know the dealer will be responsible for any future repair and maintenance. They also have a local market reputation to uphold and customers to answer to on a face to face basis. The companies who sell stairlifts on TV or online only, are often selling their own specific brand, which is often manufactured overseas. They have no local ties or reason to honor their commitment to the customers once they have collected your payment. I ask that every potential stairlift customer understand which scenario and business model they are hoping to be involved with.
A standard straight rail stairlift should take approximately 3-4 hours to properly install. A custom curved rail stairlift should also take about half a day. There are very few scenarios in which a stairlift installation should take longer than this. I have heard stories of multiple day installations, but that is more an aspect of an untrained installer doing a bad job.
The install itself typically has no mounting to the wall or any other structural areas of your home outside of the stair treads. The feet of stairlifts are anchored to the stair treads with several lag screws and will leave holes if the lift is removed. If you have carpet, these holes are generally covered up and hidden by the carpet threads and no one knows there was previously a lift in that spot. Hardwood stairs will have holes that will need to be filled and stained to blend in with the original flooring.
Should you need a stairlift removed from your home, it is generally best to have the original licensed stairlift installers do the work. This will ensure that the chair lift warranty will remain in place and follow the lift should you want to relocate or sell the product later.
Warranties are an important consideration when investing in a stairlift. Replacing a motor or circuit board can each run $1,000 if not covered under the manufacturer’s parts warranty. These parts warranties will typically range from 2-5 years depending on the brand and model.
Manufacturer’s warranties should not just be a marketing tool to sell products. Companies claiming a 10 year warranty but having no intentions of backing it up is completely useless. Reputable, local dealers will honor warranties of products they sold or else they wouldn’t be a dealer anymore for that particular brand. When you don’t know much about the online company you are purchasing from, you can’t be sure how of if they will even honor the warranty they claim to have. Do your homework.
An important consideration to keep in mind is that the product warranty typically does not cover labor charges for any repair technician. Some dealers may throw in a labor warranty to coincide with the manufacturer’s parts warranty and that service is incredibly valuable. Certified repair technicians can run $100 per hour plus whatever parts they need not covered under warranty. Be sure you compare apples to apples with warranties. You generally would be better off in the long run paying more for a brand with a better more reliable warranty, than skimping on the purchase up front.
The answer to this question will entirely depend on who you buy from. A dealer like 101 Mobility of Dallas often repurchases stairlifts that they installed originally for a customer. When purchasing used chairlifts from a dealer, you should likely know the history of the lift and the remaining manufacturer’s warranty should remain intact. That dealer will also be able to get you the additional parts you should need to modify the rail for your staircase as well as provide an experienced technician to perform the installation. So the answer is “yes” it can be a good idea under the right circumstances.
Now consider a scenario in which you see a used stairlift advertisement on Craigslist for only $1,500 when the unit typically retails for $3,300. At first glance it seems like a good deal. The current owner has uninstalled it and doesn’t know much about the unit specifically. The fact that it was uninstalled by the individual has already voided any remaining warranty. Hopefully they didn’t lose or break any parts when they took it out, but they nor you will know this until later. When you finally get it home you realize that the length of rails you have does not match what you actually need and yes you do in fact need to buy some extra parts. Stairlift manufacturers will not and cannot sell parts to people who are not dealers and dealers are not allowed to drop ship or sell only parts to customers. Now the customer must bring in a dealer for installation and also to buy the additional parts that were missing originally. An additional $1,000- 1,500 is now being spent for this service bringing the likely total spend to $3,000. The customer has nearly spent the same amount of money as buying a new unit, wasted a lot of time, and the unit is still several years old with no warranty. Not such a good deal at this point. Unfortunately this scenario plays out regularly for people who think they are finding a bargain and hoping to save some money by doing the work themselves.
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