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Spot the First Signs of Elevator Problems

D&D Elevator on Wednesday, December 1, 2021 at 12:00:00 am 

Out of Order ElevatorWith 2022 soon upon us, as a building owner or manager, time to think about steps you can take for the coming year to keep your elevators safe and reliable for your tenants and their visitors. As with all mechanical systems, problems with elevators can suddenly develop and cause expensive emergency repairs, excessive downtimes, unhappy tenants, code violations, fines and possible legal liabilities. Keeping a regular eye and ear on your elevators, and recognizing the clues to developing problems, is the best way to mitigate this.

What Building Owners and Managers Can Do

A good New Year’s resolution would be to arrange for regularly-scheduled maintenance to keep your elevator systems “up to snuff.” But, problems can start to show up between scheduled service visits. Spotting the early signs of elevator problems and addressing them, before they become potentially expensive, disruptive and/or dangerous, can save you major headaches down the road. So, here are some things to look out for:

Problems You Can See That Require Immediate Service

Horizontal Scratches on the Doors
girls stuck in elevator
This is a sign that the doors are beginning to suffer from misalignment. Doors that are misaligned can cause a breakdown, and, worst-case, lead to passenger entrapment.

Change of Door Speed
If you see the doors slowing down or opening and closing erratically, it’s likely time for you to repair or replace the operator system to head off a total door system failure

Misleveled Stops
If you see your elevator beginning to stop just above or below a floor, this is a dangerous tripping hazard that will steadily grow worse and needs to be eliminated. Further, in New York City, it is a violation of DOB code that requires elevators to stop accurately and consistently within a finite limit of ½-inch above or below floor level. If yours is an older building, the cause likely is a now-obsolete Single Speed AC traction system that relies on mechanical brakes to stop the car and does so with decreasing accuracy as they wear. To remedy this, you should ASAP get the brakes serviced, or, better, upgrade your elevator to a modern VVVF (Variable Voltage-Variable Frequency) control system that employs electrical stops to always land the elevator at floor level within the required tolerance.

Problems You Can Hear That Require Immediate Service

Screeching, Thudding, Banging and Clanging
An elevator that isn’t running quietly is signaling mechanical issues that are on their way to creating problems. Such problems and their resulting sounds will surely get worse and could lead to higher repair costs and longer downtime if not addressed early, not to mention causing concern among passengers.

Problems You Can Feel That Require Immediate Service

If your elevator speeds up or slows down before it stops, or the speed keeps shifting after the cab reaches a floor, this is a strong indicator that the cables, pulleys, and hoisting motors are acting up and a breakdown lies ahead

repair elevatorSudden Jerking Rough stops and jerking signifies that something is amiss with the components that move your cab and that failure could be just around the corner. This is a potential cause for passenger injuries and an impending between-floors stop. It can also cause diminished use of the elevator by building occupants and complaints from alarmed riders. Allowing this to continue unchecked is a potentially major elevator problem in the making.

Unresponsive Buttons: Whether mechanical or heat-sensitive, when you become aware of buttons that are starting to respond erratically, it is time to replace them before they become completely inoperative, and create chaos and frustration among your building’s occupants and visitors. Note that the “close door” buttons still seen in many elevators have been purposely rendered unresponsive, after the 1990 Americans With Disabilities Act required riders with disabilities to always be given sufficient time to board the car.

Play It Safe – Always Be on the Lookout for Potential Problems

To minimize problems and keep your tenants happy, it is helpful to be vigilant to the above warning signs and other advance signals that preventative service is necessary. But one of the surest warnings of a major upcoming elevator problem is if constant breakdowns are requiring repeated service callbacks to keep your elevator running. If this is happening to you – or your elevator is more than 20 years old – it is time to consider a system upgrade or modernization.

Talk To Us – We Will Help!

For help evaluating your elevator system and the best course of action going forward, call our friendly team at (914) 347-4344 or email Support@DDElevator.com