Monday, 16 May 2011

Stair Lifts Explained - Do You Need One?

In homes that have more than one floor, and where there are people who are elderly or people who maybe have some health issues, and thus find climbing up and down stairs difficult, are where stair lifts are of great help. Stair lifts are a fairly useful invention. It was an American from Pennsylvania who designed and built the first stair lift in 1920. His idea was to have a chair that could carry his ailing friends up and down stairs.

Today, stair lifts have become quite common. There are two types of basic stair lifts that are manufactured and sold. One stair lift is a platform on which a person can stand, or place a chair on it for a person to sit, and the platform travels up a rail that is fixed on the stairs. The other, and more popular type, is a chair that is fixed on a carriage that travels up and down the stairs on a rail.

The stair lift uses electricity, and there are cables that are pulled and released by a motor that pulls the stair lift up the stairs. The stair lift has wheels that travel on a rail. Stair lifts run on AC or DC current. The DC-type stair lifts cost more as they use batteries to provide power to the motors of the stair lift, and thus require a charger to charge the batteries. The normal electricity that is supplied in homes operates the motors of an AC-type stair lifts.

Imagine a winch hooked to a platform that rests on wheels, and the wheels in turn are placed on a rail. The rail is fitted on an incline. When the winch is operated, the motor pulls the cable, which in turn pulls the platform up the rail. To make the platform go down the rail the cable is released slowly. This is the basic principle by which a stair lift works.

stairs in houses don't always go straight up to the next floor. There may be a landing, and then the stairs continue to the upper floor. The stairs can also have a curve in them. Today, stair lifts are available to cater for all these requirements.

All that is required is to tell the company from where the stairs lift is to be purchased about the type of stairs in the home. They will then send a person who will measure the stairs, and then tell you how much the stair lift is going to cost. Once the sale is agreed upon, they will come and fit the stair lift. stair lifts have warranties and after sale service.

Stair lifts are a convenience, and especially useful in homes where there are ailing people who have difficulty in travelling up and down the stairs. In cases where changing the house or extending the house to construct an extra room for the ailing person is not an option, then the convenient option is to get a stair lift. Stair lifts today have come a long way. The seat on the stair lift can be rotated, and they also have sensors. All these have been built to provide convenience and safety for the user. All it takes is a push of a button to operate them, and they are extremely safe and convenient. They can also be used to carry loads up and down stairs, just like carrying a laundry basket.

stair lifts are easily available. At times stair lifts are a necessity and not a luxury.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Fixings Squeaking Stairs in Older Homes

Oh yes the common problem of squeaking stairs in an older house. This could become very frustrating and annoying as you walk up and down the stairs. There seems to be one or two stair treads that are always squeaking. That annoying sound as you walk as softly as you can on your way down to the kitchen in the middle of the night to grab a quick snack.

The number one cause of squeaking stairs is when the nails used to fasten the stair tread to the stair strainers has worked its way loose. Over time as the lumber shrinks in the stair treads and the stairs stringers. You will start to develop a separation or a gap between the stair tread and the stair strainer.

The stair stringer can shrink as much as 3/8 of an inch in just a few years. I was building a home and went to measure the stair stringer that was 11 1/2 inches wide originally. Then I measured it after two months outside in the summer sun it now measured 11 1/16". I was amazed that the lumber could shrink that much in such a short period of time.

As the stair stringer shrinks it starts to pull away from the plywood or hardwood stair tread. As it starts to separate from the stair tread the nail will stay in its original position until the stair tread starts to put pressure on the nail eventually lifting it up a little bit higher than its original position.

As you step on the stair tread the squeaking sound you hear is the nail rubbing against the stair tread. There are a few ways to fix a squeaking stair tread. If you have access to under the stairway you can apply some adhesive along with a 10 inch 2 x 4 under the stair tread and attach it to the stair stringer.

First apply adhesive to two sides of the 2 x 4. The adhesive will be used to glue the stair tread to the stair stringer. You can use screws to screw the new 2 x 4 onto the side of the stair stringer.

If you cannot access the underside of the stairs and you have carpeting you can actually locate the stair stringer and drive a 2 inch screw through the carpeting in to the stair stringer. This will pull the stair tread down and will not allow it to rub up against the nail making that awful sound of a squeaking stair case.

If you have a finished wood stair tread you will not be able to screw through it into the stair stringer without damaging the finish on tread itself. It will be easier to access the stair stringer from below somehow and apply the 2 x 4 with the adhesive to stop the stair squeak.

You can apply these methods to as many stair treads that are squeaking without taking apart the entire staircase and rebuilding it.