Sunday, January 29, 2017

Elevator hoist way & pit access – Elevator personnel only – State of Illinois

This is a reminder to everyone that the State of Illinois prohibits anyone that does not meet “Elevator Personnel” from accessing elevator hoist ways & pits.

[State of Illinois document - this is the law]

Elevator Personnel – A person having documented training or experience or both and be familiar with the operation and safety functions of the components and equipment. Training and experience may include recognizing the safety hazards and performing the procedures to which they are assigned in conformance with the requirements of the relevant building code.  As outlined in 17.1. 

If your building requires fire testing with devices in the hoist way, a plumber that needs access to the sump, a mason or any other trade that does not meet the requirement of “Elevator Personnel” they shall not have access to the hoist way. 

There have been several accidents and fatalities with non elevator personnel accessing elevator hoist ways.  Take the time to call your elevator service provider and have them assist you in getting in and out of the elevator hoist way safely.

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

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Poor elevator portfolio maintenance

We went to a building to do a takeoff on a elevator for modernization last week and at a College and saw some concerning items.  We as elevator contractors see great opportunity when going to a campus with many elevators.  We also see competitive pressures that drive us to be creative in bidding to get the maintenance agreement.   I found the following on this specific elevator.  The incumbent maintenance contractor has been at this campus for over 10 years.

Get this out of the machine room College!
No jumpers sign on the controllers.  This is a generally accepted good idea and a part of the elevator code. 
 Perhaps we didn't see the sign on the controller
 It has been many years since the head was wiped off
                               It has been many years since car top has been cleaned 

Good elevator maintenance practices will reduce shut downs, prolong equipment life, allow for easier future maintenance and increase the safety of the elevator equipment.  You will not make a immediate return by performing proper maintenance but in the long term there is a benefit for all parties.  

The problem with public bids is that usually the low price comes with the lowest level of service. So perhaps the building doesn't want to pay for a good maintenance program, perhaps the elevator contractor doesn't allow the time for the elevator mechanic to complete elevator maintenance, or perhaps the elevator mechanic is complacent and uses this group of buildings to pad time.  This idea is something the building owner, elevator contractor and elevator maintenance tech all need to have buy in for.  

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

Monday, January 9, 2017

Elevator Fireman's service phase I & II and automatic recall

We had a question from a building owner who modernized their elevator equipment on how fireman’s service operation functioned. All new elevators modernized or new construction will have fireman’s service and automatic recall.  I had intended on doing a very thorough post but non elevator life got in the way and I will revise the posting when I get a few moments.  But this is a good start.

Phase I – Fireman’s recall phase I is a key switch located in the lobby of a building, it could be in the hall button fixture or mounted in the door frame.  This key switch when activated will call the elevator to the main floor[where the key switch is] and the doors will open.  This is meant to be used by emergency service personnel only.

Phase II – The phase II key switch is in the elevator and is for the emergency personnel to operate the elevator without any interruption. 

Automatic recall – Automatic recall is when a fire recall device(s)[most of the times they are smoke detectors but the City of Chicago allows[ed] sprinkler flow switches] go off, the elevator will go to the main landing or alternate landing depending on which device goes off.  If a device on the 3rd landing goes off[assuming it is not the main landing] the elevator will go to the main landing[most times the 1st floor or lobby] and the doors will open and not allow operation of the elevator.  If a device goes off on the main landing the elevator will go to an alternate floor and the doors would open and not allow operation.  The purpose of this feature is to send the elevator away from the fire floor for everyone’s safety.

Exercising requirements – The elevator code requires FEO[Fire Fighters Emergency Operation] to be “exercised” once each month and documented.  If your elevator company isn’t coming once a month the building must have someone trained in this exercise.  

Phase I Bypass/Reset/Old Chicago – There are a few different phase I switches. 

Bypass – When turned to bypass it will bypass the smoke detectors that are active.  This was removed in the 2000 code and replaced with Reset.

Reset – 2000 and after elevator code has Reset, this will reset the controller but not allow the elevator to run if there are active smokes.

Old Chicago – This was an On/Off switch only

Phase II changes

            Pre 2004 code – key switches accessible to anyone in the elevator car station

            2004 to current – Fireman’s service panel behind locked door

If you are curious about the operation of FEO call you elevator company have them explain it to you or have them come show you how it works.

Credit – for some images used

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

Monday, January 2, 2017

Importance of elevator data tags

This seems like a fairly straight forward item, “it is important to have the correct data tags on elevator equipment”.  This is the 2nd experience I have had in the last few months where I have run into the incorrect information on devices which may have caused unnecessary issues with the elevator system.

Experience #1 - The most recent experience was at a school we are modernizing.  The elevator had been shut down for a long period of time.  I went to get the voltage off the disconnect and saw they had small wires so I assumed it was 480vac.  I needed the motor information as well, the power unit did not have a motor tag so I looked for a controller tag and found the tag below.

Well I got the information on the motor horse power but this didn’t make sense.  It is a 208 controller with 480VAC voltage. 

I looked in the starter cabinet and found the tag below.

Perhaps the transformer dropped the voltage down at the starter to the controller but the amps are labeled incorrectly.  What else is incorrect on the control system?  This reminded me of a project we did with the same package company which everything was mislabeled,  motor was wrong size, Oh yeah the floor to floor travel was wrong too.

Experience #2 – I got a call from a electrical engineer about an elevator that had an elevator on single phase with a converter to simulate 3 phase.  This elevator had been shut down for a month after running for 11 years.  He told me about this system and something didn’t make sense.  If the elevator was running for 11 years with no issues I don’t know how the elevator system was the problem.   I went to the building and looked at the disconnect, metered the disconnect, and identified the label on the disconnect was wrong.  The elevator was correct, the converter was correct, the disconnect label was wrong.  Previous to everyone’s involvement the elevator service company installed a solid state starter on the elevator that is fed by single phase w/3 phase converter and it didn’t work.  The building hired an engineer who didn’t meter the disconnect and spent time trying to figure out why the elevator was ordered wrong.  The elevator had run 11 years prior.  Due to incorrect labeling it was out of service over a month, lots of speculation why, not sure if the elevator is running because I never heard from the engineer after I pointed this out to him.   In this case the right solution may have been to put the mechanical starter back on.  And/or get the electrician who installed the phase converter in the same room with the elevator company.  This should have taken a few days, not a month.  

Take away - Everyone makes mistakes, controller companies, electricians, elevator companies and even myself.  If you have a wrong label, correct it by getting the correct information where it needs to go.  While you may know the label is wrong, the next person may not.  DO NOT TRUST LABELS, DO NOT TRUST WHAT SOMEONE WROTE ON THE CONTROLLER, DO THE DILIGENCE TO DOUBLE CHECK.  MEASURE TWICE CUT ONE.

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