Lou Wood has been volunteering with RT-AFF since 2012, and two years ago he recognized a need and seized the opportunity to help us by mastering a high-impact home modification: electric stair lifts. Lou put his technical expertise to work and learned how to repair and maintain stair lifts so we can safely put them back into use for homeowners in need.

Lou developed a process that ensures the donated stair lifts are in good working order and can be safely re-used, spending about 10 hours on each donated stair lift.

After we receive an offer for a stair lift donation, Lou’s first step is to meet the donors and view the condition and details of the unit. A test ride at the home of the donor is done to evaluate the unit for possible electrical or mechanical problems. If RT-AFF decides to accept the unit, the volunteers remove it and transport it to a storage area where Lou thoroughly tests and evaluates it. Lou assesses the stair lift’s functionality including inspecting and cleaning the track and examining the battery to determine its age and condition. He notes mechanical wear for later repair or replacement. Next, the covers are removed to reveal the motor and micro controllers – the brains of the system. Lou carefully cleans the electronics and documents the controller version. He inspects all the electrical components and wiring, looking for damaged or worn connections and to see if there is missing hardware or cable ties that keep all of the parts in place. The micro controller board is inspected for loose components, swollen capacitors or other electronic component deficiencies and the power supply is inspected and assessed for reuse or replacement. Lou inspects the seat posts and determines if the unit was subject to a manufacturer recall. If a recall needs to be taken care of Lou requests the parts from the manufacturer and makes the repairs.

To date we’ve received 20 donated stair lifts and 10 have been installed. Some stair lifts have been retired for parts so we can make the most out of each donated unit.

Stair lifts are an expensive but critical need for homeowners who are at risk of falling but want to stay in their longtime homes. Some homeowners we’ve helped weren’t able access to the only shower in their home because it was upstairs – a stair lift was a huge improvement to their quality of life. We are grateful to the stair lift donors, and to Lou Wood and the stair lift team, for helping us make stair lifts available to our neighbors in need. If you know someone who needs a stair lift, or if you know someone who has a stair lift to donate, please call us at 703-528-1999.

three homeowners on their stairlifts