Climbing up and down stairs with a hand truck can often present a unique set of challenges for the operator that can vary greatly from day to day and job site to job site; do your homework and be prepared! Know the capabilities and limitations of your hand truck and how best to deal with challenges you may encounter on the job site!
Stairs can vary greatly between different locations around the world and even from job site to job site. There are interior and exterior stairs; and stairs made of wood, iron, steel, perforated steel, marble, stone, tile, etc. At a very basic level, characteristics they all share are a width, a rise (height), and a run (depth).
For newer construction, most stair dimensions are controlled by local building codes. Dimensions for stairs can vary significantly between regions and even within them. Many irregular sets of stairs are allowed to still be in use as "non-conforming" exceptions due to their age and construction pre-dating the current building code regulations.
What you can be assured is that at some point you will encounter irregular, non-uniform, broken, missing, or suspect steps and will be challenged to negotiate them with your hand truck and load. Not all stairs were created equal!
Today, many safety conscious medium to large organizations make a pre-delivery job site inspection part of their normal routine to ensure they are prepared for any eventuality they may have to face. While this is "best practice" and highly recommended, it is not always realistic for everyone, so what do you do?
With a PowerMate® dolly, you have a 40" or 101.6cm drive screw. This drive screw, when opened, separates the toe plate and load from the wheels, unlike hand trucks where the wheels and toe plate are fixed.
By opening the PowerMate® frame, the operator can create a larger "span", enabling the operator to skip a missing, suspect or broken step and help them negotiate a step having a rise up to 48" or 121.9cm!
With PowerMate® all steps do not have to be there or have a uniform rise and run. This unique ability to expand the machine's frame is a feature found on all PowerMate® stairclimber models. It is also what allows the PowerMate® to be used as a dock leveler, curb jumper, and tailgate lift by treating those moves as "one big step". PowerMate® is 4 machines in 1!
Remember, PowerMate® stair climbers come complete with non-marking wheels and a full-length bottom rubber guard to protect floors and stair constructed out of just about any kind of material. TIP: When your bottom rubber guard begins to show signs of wear, take 5 minutes, remove it from the bottom of the PowerMate® stair climber and reverse it. By using the other side of the guard you are effectively doubling the life of the guard.
Summary of Stair Climbing Tips
Review your route and formulate a plan to complete your move safely and efficiently.
If a step does not look as if it would hold your weight, it probably won't support your hand truck and load, so plan accordingly.
PowerMate® does not require contact with every step. If a step is broken or the tread is suspect or missing, plan to skip it or use a PowerMate® Step Extension. Remember the PowerMate® drive screw mechanism allows the operator to climb any one step up to 48" or 121.9cm.
Plan to place the wheels in the safest/most secure position on the stair tread. With PowerMate®, you have the option of anywhere on the stair tread from front to back.
PowerMate® shoe style wheel brakes not only reduce operator effort but create a larger surface and spread the weight of the machine and load over a larger area. This is a valuable option, especially when dealing with older steps.
With a little bit of planning, PowerMate® can assist you in safely negotiating just about any reasonable eventuality you may encounter on your job site!