Eliminate Elevator Failures – Many elevator failures result from poor maintenance

February 2017

Elevators are taken for granted. Yet they are essential to condo living.

For anyone above the second floor, elevators are the only way to travel from their home to the lobby or parking area of their building. Elevators are essential for deliveries and maintenance workers.

Elevators are in constant use so will always require ongoing maintenance. The proactive approach is to have a yearly inspection plus a monthly check. Monthly checks allow a technician to identify a problem, and repair or replace parts as necessary, before it results in a failure of the elevator.

Elevators contain many moving parts. Even the smallest of part failures can take an elevator out of commission thus creating problems.

Nenad Barba of Rooney, Irving & Associates elevator consultants explains that “regular maintenance is essential to identifying minor problems and keeping elevators in operation at all times. Ensuring that elevators remain in good working order and do not fail is the ultimate goal. This requires repair or replacement of minor component failures before they cause an elevator to fail.”

Elevator maintenance is intended to identify signs of wear and tear before such problems cause an elevator to break down.

The average elevator can last about 20 years. An upgrade is often required after about ten years.

Over time an elevator can become unreliable. It may fail to stop on the selected floor or stop on floors not selected. Doors may not open and close smoothly. Its ride may be jumpy. It may not stop level with the floor. An elevator may stop moving or doors fail to open, perhaps with people trapped inside.

Even with proper maintenance an elevator may require an overhaul in order to reduce down time. Elevator down time does increase as elevators age.

A monthly check includes riding in the elevator while looking for anything that may be a problem. Newer equipment includes a monitor that may identify problems not yet visible or noticeable. Technicians may rely on resident comments to identify intermittent problems. Minor failures are repaired, or equipment replaced, before they cause the elevator to shut down.

After about ten years it may be appropriate to modernize elevators. This entails bringing it up to current code, much of which may require improvements in life safety features. After about 15 years it is time to prepare for elevator replacement sometime after the 20 year mark.

As more parts of the elevator wear out and can no longer be repaired it may be time to consider a complete replacement. For high-rise condo buildings elevators can cost $150,000+ each for a complete replacement. Ensuring sufficient funds are available, identifying consultants, preparing specs, soliciting bids and selecting a contractor is likely to take more than a year. After a contractor is selected, there may be a delay of six months or more for parts to be delivered and scheduling. Replacing four or five elevators in a high-rise condo building can take more than a year.

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