Sunday, May 31, 2015

Elevator accident/death in Bloomington, IL

There was another elevator accident on 5/26/15 involving a facilities person or a maintenance mechanic in Bloomington, IL.  It is not clear to me if the person was an elevator mechanic or a building maintenance/facilities person at this point in time.  The result of the accident was death due to getting hit or crushed with the counter weights.

Last week I was at a 6 story building with 2 gear less traction elevators that went 400fpm and one was silent moving up and down and the other had a noisy roller guide.   In the world of elevators, 400fpm are not fast elevators.  When I was in the hoist way you just felt the elevator without the noisy roller guide pass you[silent as a mouse], there would not be time to react before getting hit by the elevator if you were in the wrong place at the wrong time and did not take the necessary precautions to enter the hoist way.  

If you have not reviewed the Elevator Industry Field Employees’ Safety Handbook lately please do.  If you do not have a copy of this hand book as the company you work for to get you one or buy one.

Available from - 

The books are $11.00.

People that are not considered elevator personnel should not be in an elevator hoist way unsupervised.  

Definition of elevator personnel – Person who have been trained the construction, maintenance, repair, inspection, or testing of equipment. Definition from ASME A17.1-2013/CSA B44-13

Again, if you do not qualify as elevator personnel you should not be in an elevator hoist way without the supervision of someone that does qualify as elevator personnel.

This is a terribly way to remind everyone in the elevator world of how dangerous our profession is and everyone needs to be careful when working in and around elevators.  Be safe!  We all want to see the Black Hawks win another Stanley Cup!

If you have any questions or would like information from Colley Elevator you can go to, email or call 630-766-7230.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

When is it time to modernize your elevator

When is it time to modernize your elevator

We often get questions from buildings asking “when should I modernize our elevator?”.  The buildings who ask these questions are often the buildings that have modernized their elevator or do not have problems.

As a building owner, manager or someone who lives in the building being on top of the major capital expenditures is very important.  Roofs, Windows, Boilers, etc are all large expenses that buildings see around the same time the elevator may need to be replaced.  An elevator should run fairly reliably for a building for 15-20 years after installation.  After 15-20 years depending on environment, usage and quality of equipment installed you may start seeing reliability issues with the elevator system.  Colley Elevator has elevator systems that have been installed for over 50 years that the buildings have not modernized the elevator systems, while we do not recommend retaining equipment this long the elevators still run fairly reliably.

I was at a building this week that had needed to engage their elevator company for an modernization much sooner than now.  This elevator was shut down when we came in and should have been going through this process years ago as it does take time to get materials and schedule the work.  

[The elevator controller shown here should have been replaced years ago] 

For buildings owners, managers and unit owners here are some tips for you

Item 1 – Find out how old your elevator components are and what condition they are in from your elevator maintenance company.   Have them give you a time line and costing of when the major components need to be replaced.

Item 2 – Meet with the elevator company rep to have them explain this information to you.  As elevator professionals we deal with the equipment every day, as someone who doesn’t deal with it every day it may be confusing and it is very expensive.  Have us come out and walk you through the process and point out the equipment.

Item 3 – Other trades are involved, get pricing on the fire alarm portion and the electrical portion of the work.   These are items that should be spelled out by your elevator company in their proposal.  Along with fire alarm and electrical you may need other trade work, the elevator company should help you with what you will need to do to comply with the building codes. 

Item 4 – Get an understanding of how long your elevator will be out of service.  Yes the elevator will be out of service for days, weeks or months.  This is one of the items that some elevator professionals leave out when talking about elevator modernization.

Item 5 – If your elevator company is confusing you or you do not feel comfortable with the elevator company you can hire an Elevator Consultant.   An elevator consultant should walk you through the process; review all the information that the elevator companies give you so you are comparing apples to apples.  You can interview the elevator consultants as well, as there are elevator companies that may be a better fit for your building, there are elevator consultants that have different strengths in different areas that would be more appealing to you as a decisions maker.

Item 6 – Budget for the project or pull the trigger.  If you are budgeting for the project remember to add 3%-5% a year as costs go up and codes do change that will make the project cost a bit more.

The goal for the building and the elevator company is to make sure you have a safe and reliable elevator.

If you have any questions or would like information from Colley Elevator you can go to, email or call 630-766-7230.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Elevator pit leakage/Water in elevator pit

As we see the April and May rains come every year we have a significant amount of water that enters into our elevator pits.  This water can cause a undesirable odor, deteriorate elevator equipment and get into the hydraulic fluid and contaminate it.

Items buildings can do to prevent or minimize water issues in elevator pits

1.    Make sure sump pumps are working in elevator pits
2.    Make sure pits are graded so water goes to sump pump/drain
3.    Seal pit to prevent water getting in
4. Have an elevator maintenance plan to alert you if you have water in the pit before it gets to a point where you have a significant issue.  Elevator maintenance plans that have someone go to your building once a quarter or twice a year may not be enough if you have a water issue that needs to be monitored. 

This picture shows one of the worst elevator pits I have seen.  This specific instance the water went through the cylinder glad packing and contaminated the hydraulic fluid.  Once this occurs there isn't much you can do as even if you replace the hydraulic fluid in the reservoir you will have water in the oil in the hydraulic line and the bottom of the cylinder.  The cost to get rid of 100% of the water is significant. 

This pit shows a building that had not had elevator maintenance for some time, you can see how high the water line in the pit is.
What a clean pit looks like

Alternative water detection devices 

SEES pit can plus -  The device below is from a company called SEES and would be something a building that has their sump pump fail or gets water regularly can look into with their elevator maintenance company.

*Audio, Visual and Silent Alarm System for Oil and Water detection
*Detects Water at 1/2”
*Adjustable Oil Level Sensors
*12 VDC Rechargeable Battery System (Comes with Smart Charger)
*Push to Test Buttons
*Form “C” Contacts, 1NO, 1NC
*Can Distinguish Between Oil and Water Signals
*Easy to Install
*Eliminate Costly and Damaging Oil Contamination
*Reduces Monthly Maintenance
*Can Connect Via Silent Alarm Relay Box to the Elevators Remote 
*Monitoring System (or low oil circuit in older controllers) 

Link -

Electrodyn Liquid intrusion detection - This is a device from Electrodyn who makes other elevator add on devices such as Fire Service panels.  This is a device that will detect water int he elevator pit and send the car to a floor and turn the elevator off.

Other news

Still have fund raising for Gregory Sabahar – On Easter evening he was involved with an elevator accident and died -

Chicago Elevator Association Boat Cruise/ EESF – 6/10/15 6pm – Money goes towards educating young people on elevator and escalator safety – Tickets $150.00 – – Mystick Blue Boat @ Navy Pier

If you have any questions or would like information from Colley Elevator you can go to, email or call 630-766-7230.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Elevator shut off valves

We recently had Maxton valve complete training for our mechanics and they brought a new product they are selling.  They introduced to us their new elevator hydraulic line shut off valve.

As many elevator personnel know you find all sorts of shut off valves in the elevator line.  Over the years there have been issues with certain brands and types of shut off valves in which some States have required the removal of these valves.

The new Maxton shut off valve is a more robust shut off valve compared to what is out there at this point in time.  

  • A shut off ball valve built, labeled and tested to comply with ASME A17.1/CSA B44 standards at a 5:1 safety factor (1000 psi max operating pressure)
  • A shut off ball valve designed for use in hydraulic elevators specifically
  • With interchangeable flange sizing of 2" & 2.5" grooved or threaded 
  • A unique locking handle design preventing accidental fluid loss 
  • Hard chrome plated carbon steel (2" Full Port) ball with blow out proof stem used across the line
WSP – Working Steam Pressure - A pressure rating specific to the media steam and expressed in P.S.I. 

WOG – Water Oil Gas - indicating maximum P.S.I. for the medias Water, Oil or Gaseous

Some of the older valves may not meet the requirements in the 17.1-2013[8.2.85].  

Note in code -  “Valves and fittings rated for a different system may be used in hydraulic elevator systems when substantiated in accordance with the elevator code.” 

[an old shut off valve I ran into in the City of Chicago]

At the end of the day we as elevator sales people, managers, technicians, inspectors and consultants need to be aware of what should be installed and what is not correct.  There are a lot of different shut off valves out there some which may need to be removed and some which can stay but there needs to be research and some calculations completed as there are two different rating systems for some of these valves[see below].

[This shut off valve has both WSP & WOG ratings indicated on it]

We are currently looking into the wording in the code to see what our ratings for old and new ball valves should be and will report on that at a later date. 

If you have any questions or would like information from Colley Elevator you can go to, email or call 630-766-7230.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Gregory Sabahar Memorial Fund

The elevator industry had an elevator accident that took the life on an elevator technician on Easter night 2015.  Gregory Sabahar is no longer with us as a result of this accident and there is a fund set up to give back to his family.  While no amount of money will bring him back it will help out his family with their loss.

If you have any questions or would like information from Colley Elevator you can go to, email or call 630-766-7230.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

State of Illinois elevator pit ladder information

We do another post about elevator pit ladders.  While everyone in the elevator business may be tired of pit ladders it is still the most popular topic out there and one of the items we as an elevator contract spend the most time on at the moment.  I have included some general information about pit ladders as well as some new information on making sure the pit ladder is by the unlocking device. 

As you may know all elevators require a pit ladder that complies with ASME A17.1 – 2007 section  All building are required to be compliant as of 1/1/15, as we know most buildings are not compliant.  From what I hear from the elevator inspectors that 90% of the elevators fail their inspections for their pit ladders.

[State of Illinois public act]

                                                        [Code requirements]
                                                         [Pit ladder graphic]

Ladders on opposite wall of unlocking device – If you have a pit ladder on the opposite wall of the unlocking device, this must be moved.  We at times do not look for this when doing our ladder surveys.  On the side of the pit wall closest to the unlocking device you must have your pit ladder, stop switch and pit light switch[if you have one].  I recently was at a building measuring for a Life Jacket safety device and the pit ladder was on the wrong side of the wall, this was a freight elevator with a deep pit and I was working with someone else to get measurements of the pit equipment.  When I was in the pit I had no way of unlocking the freight door from the pit. Be aware when installing pit ladders that it allows you to get out of the pit, but it is on the same side of the pit wall as the unlocking device.  Climbing the pit ladder to find the unlocking device 10’ away will allow you to get exercise but not out of the pit and may even create a more dangerous situation if you are leaning over trying to hit the unlocking device that is just out of reach on your tip toes with one hand on the ladder.

Putting the pit ladder on the unlocking device side of the hoist way have been a part of the code for a long time but we as an industry haven’t always followed them when putting our stop switches, pit ladders, pit lights in the hoist way.   I have been to newer buildings that the ladders and other devices are on the wrong walls.  At times there is a reason they are on the wrong wall[i.e. sump pump in the way of where the ladder should go], other times it is because it was convenient for the installer.

Variance process – At times it is very difficult to get a perfect solution for the elevator pit ladder as there are many other items that go in the elevator pit.  It is up to the elevator contractor and building owner to do as much as possible to comply with the requirements.  If you have exhausted all means, you can work with the municipality on a variance.

    [Variance request information from EIS, one of our inspection firms in the State of Illinois]

Working with existing environments – This pit ladder installation is a great utilization of the existing environment and making it as safe as possible for the user.  As you can see there are a lot of items that made this a challenging installation.   To get the ladder in by the unlocking device the mechanic had to squeeze a 9" ladder in between the hydraulic line and the sump pump line.  This mechanic made both of these lines highly visible so when the next person goes in the pit they do not hurt themselves or damage any of the equipment.  This ladder passed inspection even though it is not perfect it is as good as it will get with the environment. 

If you have not addressed your pit ladder situation in the State of Illinois[less Chicago] contact an elevator contractor to see what you need to do. 

Other State of Illinois mandated items - While we are concentrating on pit ladders don't forget that you must have elevator phones, door protection devices, emergency lights & alarm, pit stop switches, phase monitors[traction elevators] and a door restrictor[should have been completed by 1/1/14.

              [Information from Thompson Elevator, another inspection firm from Illinois]

If you have any questions or would like information from Colley Elevator you can go to, email or call 630-766-7230.