Guide to floor jack extension – Scissor, Hydraulics & More

Ever dealt with a flat on the road? You know the most important thing you need to deal with is the jack. From warehouse to industrial plant and our own garages, floor jacks are a common sight in many environments.

In many instances, the jack might be unable to reach the required height. Jack extensions are commonly used in such applications. This article will talk about them and show you a simplified approach to selecting a floor jack.

How Floor Jacks Work:

Jacks are usually divided into two main categories. Bottle jacks and floor jacks. The purpose of a bottle jack and a floor jack is the same. They both lift things that are too heavier for you and me to handle. The main difference is how!

The principle upon which the two operations are based is a little different.

In a Floor jack, the shaft is horizontal as compared to the bottle jack and it pushes the crank to lift the platform.

Bottle jacks have a vertical shaft so you’d need to apply a lot of force. In the case of Floor Jack, the effort required is low.

Generally, floor jacks are a little heavier as well. But with wheels to move them around, you won’t face many issues regarding their mobility.

Types of Floor Jacks:

We already know that while going to the hardware departmental store, you’d see different types of Jacks. When we talk about Floor Jacks, you have different options to choose from.

It’s really up to you to decide which you should choose. Here are a few types you’d come across in the market:

Scissor Jacks

Steel Scissor Lift Jack Kit, 1.5 Ton (3,000 lb) Capacity
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    We all have used scissors at least once in our daily life. It works the same way a scissor works so you can say that the makers didn’t spend too much time on the name.

    Unfortunately, you can’t rely on the quality of this jack because it usually works for lighter applications where the load isn’t very high as compared to bottle jacks.

    Hydraulic Jacks

    BIG RED Torin Hydraulic Trolley / Floor Jack 1.5 Ton (3,000 lb) Capacity
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      As the name suggests, these jacks used specialized hydraulics to operate. Just keep pumping the piston and the pressure in the cylinder lifts the platform. These are the simplest forms of jacks you’ll find on the market because they are convenient for the user.

      Farm Jacks

      Hi-Lift Jack HL484 48" Cast and Steel Jack
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        These are quite unorthodox in their use and you’d want to stay safe from them. Mostly used in farms, you won’t find that that easily in every hardware store because not many people are comfortable with the design.

        Bottle or Piston Jacks

        Grey Hydraulic Bottle Jack - 4 Ton Capacity
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          You’d find this jack most common these days because of its size and effectiveness. They work the same way as a hydraulic jack and since they are easier to handle, you’d want to keep one for your car.

          Jack Extensions

          BIG RED Steel Jack Stands: Double Locking, 2 Ton (4,000 lb) Capacity
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            Sometimes, you want to lift something higher than the limit of the jack. For that, people generally like to place an extension that increases the height.

            If you know what you are doing. Simply adding a wooden block or something similar would make a good extension.

            However, you should also think about going for an engineered option because of its safety and reliability.

            The Best Type of Jack for You

            Comparing the different types of jacks mentioned, it’s really up to you to decide which jack you’d prefer.

            If you like minimum effort and better working then hydraulic and bottle jacks are made for you but for simple purposes and day-to-day light usage, a scissor jack is a way to go.

            Sure, there are various options for you in the market. However, as a worker or an aspiring DIY enthusiast, you should know about the technical details to make an informed decision.

            Common Applications of Jacks

            There are a lot of different applications for jacks. You can be creative in any way you wish to because it depends on how you use your tools. A few ways how different jacks can be applied in daily life are:

            1. If you drive a car, you are likely to use a jack one way or the other. Either it is for changing a flat tire or just lifting your car to see the damage after hitting a high bump. Mostly scissor jacks or hydraulic jacks are used by car mechanics as well as the general public because they are easily available and simple to use
            2. At different construction sites where a load needs to be supported firmly for a certain time period, you will see construction workers using piston jacks or other hydraulic jacks
            3. At the household level, you can use simple jacks to support different appliances that are damaged.

            What to Consider when Buying a Floor Jack?

            Surely, you need to think first before buying a Floor Jack. A universal approach is to set your priorities and buy accordingly. Here are a few points that would certainly help you out in making the right choice:

            Stand Material

            This is one of the most important factors to consider when buying a jack. You would want a jack made of cast iron or a really tough grade of stainless steel.

            Power Source

            You have two choices in this case, automated or manual. The final choice only depends on the budget; they don’t have any difference except convenience.

            Maximum Lift Height

            Make sure you buy a jack that has a higher maximum height limit than the height you are buying for. Sometimes, plans can change so you need a versatile jack. If you have a jack and need to increase its height, try going for extensions.

            Working Orientation

            A farm jack can’t work in the same orientation as a hydraulic jack. So, make sure you know where and how that jack is supposed to work.

            Handle Length

            A bigger handle length means lesser effort, but it would increase the cost as well. So, it all comes down to cost when choosing a jack with a larger or smaller handle length.

            Capacity

            This is the most basic criteria when buying a jack. Make sure you choose a jack that has a higher load-bearing capacity than the purpose you are buying it for.

            When deciding on a jack you might question yourself, is a 2 ton or a 1.5-ton jack enough? For that, just make sure you are aware of the task you are going to perform.

            What size of a Jack do I need?

            As discussed before, the right type and capacity of the jack depend on your application. Now, there are a few points you need to keep in mind when choosing the size of a jack, such as:

            • What is the maximum load that the jack needs to hold?
            • How long do you need to support the load?
            • How much area do you have for placing the jack under the load?
            • How long should the arm of the jack be so that you can easily change it?

            These are all important questions and will determine the right size of jack you’ll need. By taking your time and making an informed decision, you can ensure your safety and save yourself from another trip to the market.

            How do you raise the height of a Floor Jack?

            There are multiple ways you can raise the height of a floor jack. Again, the jack type decides how it would raise the height of the floor jack.

            A generic way how the jack is capable of raising the height is just by using the mechanism by which the jack must be operated.

            Some jacks use lead screws while others require pumping for them to work. Some jacks are automated while in some cases you need to break a sweat to get the job done. The generic way you can raise the height of the Floor Jack is quite simple:

            • First, you need to place the jack under the load that you need to lift
            • Secondly, you just need to make sure that the whole space of the jack extension covers the bottom half of the platform to be lifted
            • The third step is where all the work is done, just start using the mechanism to change the height of the jack extension or the platform
            • Lastly, make sure to engage the lock so that the jack may not slip and you end up damaging the body itself

            Some Important Safety Tips

            • Make sure that you always engage the jack according to the manual given by the seller
            • You must wear a helmet if you are working under a car that is supported by a jack, you never know when the jack might give up
            • Make sure you buy a jack that has the strength in its material to hold off heavier loads, at least more than what you need it for
            • Always keep the lock of the jack engaged after you have reached a certain height. It’s always safer to use the jack for raising and shifting to jack stands.
            • In case of slipping or cracking of jack, don’t try to support the load yourself
            • Double-check the jack placement under the load before raising its height

            Conclusion

            Choosing a Floor Jack, you must make sure that your application does not overuse or over-exert the jack so that major issues can be avoided.

            Floor Jacks are a wonder of engineering whose applications out-number the main reasons why it was invented in the first place. 

            ABOUT THE AUTHOR

            Dean Alvarez, TireForge Head Author

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