Wondering if there are potential problems with wheelchair ramps that you need to be aware of?

You’re in the right place. Wheelchair ramps are incredibly useful; they allow easy access to and from a home, as well as around a split-level garden or open-plan living area.

However, there are some problems with wheelchair ramps that can make them difficult – or even dangerous – to use.

Types Of Ramps

There are loads of different ramps available in the modern home adaptation market, and they fit neatly into two categories.

Permanent Ramps

Installing a permanent ramp is a fantastic solution if the ramp will be needed long-term. 

Concrete ramps are the most common permanent ramp. Using concrete to construct a ramp takes a while because waiting for the mixture to set before it’s usable is necessary. To create the ramp, fitters first put up wooden formwork to house the mixture in its correct shape whilst it cures.

And depending on the size of the ramp, this can take anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks!

Modular Ramps

Commonly made from aluminium, modular ramps are the IKEA furniture of the ramp world. 

Constructed from multiple sections, including handrails, footings and landings, these ramps are bolted together on-site and can be safely  – and speedily – installed on any landscape. Modular ramps fast became popular in recent years because they can be taken down, moved, and even have their layout adjusted with ease without damage to the surrounding area.

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Temporary Ramps

Temporary ramps are considerably lighter than permanent ramps and are, therefore, easily moved. And because of the reduction in expensive materials required to produce them, they’re also much cheaper. 

There are plenty of different styles to choose from, including suitcase ramps which fold in the middle and transform into a carryable case, and roll-up ramps which, as the name suggests, roll up for super simple storage.

Wheelchair ramps can also make moving from one level to another comfortable and safe for people who use a variety of walking aids and even parents and carers using pushchairs and prams. 

They can transform lives for people with reduced mobility, but if you’re thinking of investing in one, you might be wondering what problems with wheelchair ramps might arise.

The Wrong Incline

Maths plays a huge role in getting a wheelchair ramp right. And that’s because the steepness of the incline has to be spot-on to enable safe use.

Too steep, and a wheelchair user will find it laborious to ascend and frighteningly fast to descend. Too shallow, the ramp becomes very long, which isn’t practical for many properties as it can mean the ramp must include lots of turns to safely get from A to B.

The fix? Get a professional to measure up, design and construct your ramp. They’ll be able to do all of the calculations necessary to ensure your ramp is usable and, most importantly, safe. 

Misplaced Or Missing Handrails

Another one of the common problems with wheelchair ramps is to do with the handrails rather than the ramp platform.

Handrails are an essential part of a ramp. They keep anyone using the ramp – not just those with a reduced range of movement – safe from falling from the sides of the ramp and provide support for individuals needing to steady themselves as they ascend or descend. 

The handrails must support the weight of anyone who will be relying on them when using the ramp and be robust enough to weather bumps and knocks from wheelchairs and pushchairs. 

How to prevent handrail-related problems? With wheelchair ramps, handrails must be present and have been installed at the correct height. Too low, and they won’t provide support and could even become a trip hazard. Too high, and they won’t be able to prevent wheelchair wheels from slipping off the side. 

Ignoring Your Ramp

The third on our list of problems with wheelchair ramps is complacency. Often accidental.

Once your ramp is installed, it needs looking after. You will need to check it for damage or potential issues every so often to maintain its sturdiness. 

What possible problems with wheelchair ramps might you uncover? Well, concrete ramps can crack due to the freeze-thaw cycle of alternating temperatures, often causing weeds and moss to grow in the cracks, making the ramp surface slippery.

Small cracks like these can also lead to larger ones that can affect the integrity of the ramp and even render it unsafe to use.

When you’re checking over modular ramps, the signs of wear you’re looking for are very different because they’re constructed most commonly from metal. 

For modular ramps, it’s important to check each unit and the fittings connecting them regularly for loosening or wear and tear. This includes all bolts and screws, and handrails, too. Ensure the ramp surface is free from dirt and debris, and don’t forget to look at each point where two pieces of the platform meet. Raised edges, possibly caused by a shift in the ground below the ramp, can be a hazard.

You Can Easily Avoid Problems With Wheelchair Ramps 

So. You’ve decided which type of ramp meets your needs, bought it, had it fitted and can finally use it to enter and exit your house safely. 

Don’t ignore it! Ensure you do all you can to avoid the common problems with wheelchair ramps we’ve covered above. And the easiest way to do that? Contract a professional to install your wheelchair ramp in the first place. Not only will they ensure fast and expert service, you can instruct them to stay on top of maintenance so that you don’t have to worry about it.

This means your ramp will last a long time and provide safe passage to and from your home for many years.

Are you thinking of installing a ramp in a property? Do you need more information about simple home adaptations that make a big impact? See our website to find out more about the John Ford Group and what we do.