In the Chicago land area we have had some very cold days which have caused some buildings to have issues with their elevator system. I would like to take time to remind building owners that it is their responsibility to keep a heated machine room. When the elevator machine or elevator shaft gets cold it turns the hydraulic fluid thicker or more viscous. This means it takes more energy than usual to move the hydraulic fluid from the power unit to the cylinder and move the elevator up and down. The elevator's valve is set up for normal room temperature not extreme cold or heat. If the oil is too cold or too hot it will affect the elevators ability to level. When an elevator service technician goes to the building after we get a call on a -3 degree day we get to the building and find that the elevator is not leveling. We can run the car to heat up the oil and then the elevator will begin leveling and operating properly. This is not a permanent solution as the next day after a evening of elevator inactivity and the oil gets cold the same issues will arise.
The following items should be addressed
1. Elevator technician should notify the building of the situation and the importance of keeping the elevator room warm.
2. If the hoistway walls have exposure to the elements keep the elevator at the lowest landing so more oil is in the elevator room then in the cylinder.
3. Get heat to the machine room
a. Portable heater for temporary heat
b. Hydraulic tank heater[can cost $500.00 to $1,000.00] - The heating element goes into the hydraulic tank and will maintain an constant temperature. There will need to be a 110vac outlet available adjacent to the elevator machine to plug into.
[Nylube tank heater - www.nylube.com]
Older elevator hydraulic systems with older valves will have an especially hard time with the cold weather so it is very important that the elevator hoist way and machine room is properly heated to avoid any issues with leveling or shut downs. The elevator technician can keep coming back to the building to run the elevator to warm it up, however, it is expensive for the building owner and frustrating[for the building and elevator tech] so working towards a permanent solution for the building should be the goal.