A boom lift, sometimes called a cherry picker or bucket lift, is a piece of machinery that can lift users anywhere from 10 to as much as 200 feet in the air. These tools are invaluable for construction and outdoor work of all kinds, such as solar panel installation, basic roof repairs and high-ceiling fixture replacement. Though it might seem like boom lifts are only suited for use by construction professionals, it is very possible for the average person to rent and safely use them.

Height workers with help of cherry picker are working.
credit: roman023/iStock/GettyImages
How to Use a Boom Lift

How to Rent a Boom Lift

Determining the specific needs of your project will play a large role in deciding the sort of boom lift you rent. In general, small, at-home jobs are possible with a boom lift that maxes out at around 20 feet. If you will be working on anything higher, such as a tall tree, consider hiring a professional.

There are two types of boom lifts. The first, telescoping boom lifts, use arms that continue to extend as height demand increases. These are best for jobs requiring a great deal of altitude. The second type, articulated boom lifts, are best for jobs in small or tight spaces.

Boom lifts can be powered by hydraulics, gasoline or electricity. If you are working indoors, you might consider an electric or hybrid lift for safety reasons. Many boom lifts powered by fuel use diesel and are better suited for outdoor projects.

Contact your local hardware or machine rental store to determine whether they have a boom lift available with the specifications you need. Many stores will rent these machines out on a day-by-day basis to individuals. Some locations may require that the customer has insurance.

Using a Boom Lift

Once you have arranged for the rental of your boom lift, you will need to move it to your project site. Many boom lifts, particularly smaller ones, allow for towing behind a large truck. Consult with the rental facility before you make arrangements in case your available towing equipment is not adequate for the machine you are renting.

Before getting started, you should speak to someone at the rental facility and request a walk-through of how to use the boom lift. In addition, read any safety instructions or manuals that are available with your rental. Conduct an inspection of both the lift and the surrounding area before you do any work to make sure that all connections are tight, any hydraulic tubes are connected and that all components are in good working order. Check to be sure there are no children, pets or unaware bystanders in your work area.

Follow manufacturer's guidelines when it comes to how much weight can be on the boom lift. Never overload the lift, as this can pose a serious safety concern. Additionally, do not move the lift when it is raised. Before relocating the machine, always return the lift to its lowered position. Set the brakes before you begin to use the lift.

Don't use a boom lift outdoors during bad weather. In addition, take care not to use electric boom lifts indoors during thunderstorms, as power surges can damage the machine and harm its user. Never work near power lines, transformers or other electrical sources.

Do not use a boom lift on uneven terrain, such as bumpy ground or hills. You should also refrain from leaning the lift on anything, such as a guardrail or tree. Even though an object seems sturdy, it may not be designed to bear the weight of something like a boom lift. If the support were to give way, you could fall from a great height, causing serious injury.

Once you have powered on the boom lift as per its instructions, step carefully onto the lift platform. If possible, use a harness to clip yourself to the side rails for safety. Before raising the lift, drive the machine to the location of your job site. Then, set the brake, raise the lift and get to work.

When you have finished your work, lower the lift and remove the brake before driving the machine to a new location. Carefully remove your harness and power off the boom lift according to manufacturer instructions. Take care when disembarking from a lift, which may still be high off the ground in its ready position.