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Avoiding Common Elevator Mistakes

By: D&D Elevator

woman elevatorIn multi-story buildings, the elevators are a critical factor in determining the smooth operation, safety, utility and business viability of the property. Owners, both experienced and new to the game, often make costly elevator mistakes that can be prevented with understanding and strategic planning. So, as we enter the new year, let’s take a look at some of the most common mistakes that property owners make, and how to avoid them.

Top Elevator Mistakes


Trying to Do It Yourself “On the Cheap”

Building owners, and particularly new investors, often attempt to manage their property maintenance themselves or seek repairs only on an as-needed basis, from contractors offering bargain-basement rates. Such contractors are unfamiliar with your equipment and history, which can lead to substandard and incomplete work, compromised safety and future elevator problems. Most critically, it can turn out to be the most expensive way to go. 

Not Scheduling Regular MaintenanceMan waiting for elevator

Having your elevators serviced only if and when a problem suddenly occurs brings many disadvantages. Best practice is to keep your elevator up-time as high as possible by arranging for regularly-scheduled service. This helps you stay on top of things, by continuously monitoring performance, minimizing the frequency of emergency service calls, limiting inconvenience to tenants, and correcting issues before they lead to potentially dangerous situations and costly shutdowns. 

Waiting Too Long

For you as an owner, maintenance is a primary responsibility to your tenants, and you are required to ensure your property’s safety and health standards. If a renter reports an elevator problem, or any other problem involving comfort and safety, best is to respond to it quickly and professionally. Even before it is reported by tenants, if your elevators begin to act up, and you see, hear or feel obvious signs that something is going wrong, address this as expeditiously as possible. Waiting until it develops into a disruptive emergency can become needlessly costly in dollars and tenant dissatisfaction.

repair elevatorUsing Proprietary Equipment & Parts

Original equipment manufacturers (OEM’s), particularly those offering controllers and MRL (Machine-Room Less) systems, market their products as the best choice for elevator modernizations and new installations. But, going this route can be a meaningful mistake: in most cases, a more cost- and time-effective approach is to instead acquire equipment from non-proprietary or open-source suppliers, a concept known by some as “vendor neutrality.” Open source equipment and parts, because they are non-proprietary, tend to be significantly less expensive and much more quickly available in the event of emergency or other sudden need.

Avoiding Code Compliance and Ignoring Violations

Falling out of code compliance and avoiding settlement of elevator-related violations is a major mistake with potentially severe consequences, including the ongoing presence of dangerous conditions, possible legal liabilities, costly penalties and disruptive shut-downs by municipal authorities or equipment failure. It is vital to periodically check whether there are any “violation skeletons in the closet” – old violations that may have been forgotten or ignored – certain to resurface and become larger problems going forward if not resolved. 

The D&D Advantage

In the current hectic environment, and even during more ordinary times, the day-to-day complexities and distractions of operating a building can lead to elevator mistakes that could easily have been side-stepped with some strategic consideration. It is literally good business to pause and look at these and other errors to avoid, in the interest of safety, of saving money, time and reputation, and keeping tenants happy. Making the most of a maintenance partnership with D&D is a highly-productive way to accomplish this. Most importantly, in the event of a sudden breakdown, as your maintenance partner, D&D will know the particulars of your system and the parts and service needed to quickly get the elevator back into service.

Talk to Us – We Will Help

For help evaluating your elevator system and guidance in avoiding these and other mistakes, call our friendly team at (914) 347-4344 or email Support@DDElevator.com

Spot the First Signs of Elevator Problems

By: D&D Elevator

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

Care & Prepare for Winter!

By: D&D Elevator

Thermometer showing coldWith late Fall and Winter very soon upon us – bringing frigid temperatures and possible major storms – your elevators now require some focused extra attention. Make sure that your motor room is properly heated and that there are no broken windows or other outside air leaks – keeping the motor room from becoming unduly cold will help prevent solidification of vital fluids and potential failure of the system. But, there are numerous other possibly dangerous, disruptive and costly problems that the coming season can create for your elevator systems.

Inspection & Maintenance Are the Key

As a building owner or manager, it is always good business to be attentive to the condition and operation of your elevators. But this is especially true of the upcoming season, when harsh winter weather can severely compromise the performance and safety of your equipment. Best practice, therefore, before and during the season, is to have your systems inspected and proactively maintained, once a month, to head off such problems. Here are some particular areas on which to focus:

First & Foremost: Climate Control

Make sure your system is equipped to keep the machine room temperature between 60 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit, especially if yours is a traction elevator. If your system is hydraulic, consider having a tank heater added to keep the oil between 85 and 96 degrees, Temperatures below this range can change the viscosity of the oil and throw off leveling of the elevator.

Other Top Tips

  • Have the steel rails properly lubricated – during colder weather the lubrication dries out, which can cause noise that passengers find concerning
  • If you do not already have them, install battery back-up units to kick in during a power failure – if you do have them, make sure they are fully charged and operational
  • Have your system programmed to park cars in the middle or upper shaft where temperatures tend to be warmer – avoid having them park at the lobby or the basement level, especially if the area is subject to drafts and/or has a “cold floor”

The Importance of Clean Door Tracks

Elevator Door Tracks - Care Side Track - Hall Side Track Best practice here is to keep your elevator door tracks clean and functional year-round – on both the car and hall sides – as part of your regular maintenance program. But it is particularly important at this time of year, when clogging by pine needles from holiday trees, packed snow, ice, mud, salt and all manner of debris can severely aggravate the problem and create door-opening and closing issues. During the high-traffic holiday season, between maintenance visits, your building’s staff can “touch up” by:

  • Thoroughly vacuuming out the door tracks
  • Using stiff paint brushes to loosen and remove common track obstructions
  • Using a stiff nylon parts-cleaning brush for more stubborn obstructions

Prepare for Harsh Weather & Major Storms

FloodUnder more temperate weather conditions, winter storms can bring severe flooding to cause potentially dangerous problems. To best protect your elevators and passengers when such conditions are expected to or do occur:

Before the storm arrives

  • Check the condition of the pits and make sure that sump pumps are functional and not clogged 
  • In severe flooding areas, barricade the motor room to, best as possible, prevent entry by major amounts of water
  • Close any vents and openings atop the hoistway to keep water out of the shaft

During potential flood conditions

  • Position the cars at the top floors and shut down the system and power, making sure there are no remaining building occupants dependent on the elevators to vacate

D&D Will Help!

Regular preventative maintenance goes a long way toward avoiding trouble while saving unnecessary expense and inconvenience, especially during Winter. As always, D&D stands ready to assist with a maintenance program custom-designed for your building, and any seasonal difficulties you may encounter!

Call our friendly team at (914) 347-4344 or email Support@DDElevator.com