Monday, December 31, 2018

Year in review Colley Elevator Blog – 2019 Elevator Blog

I would like to say thank you for everyone that has been a part of Colley Elevators 2018, we had a great year!  We have eclipsed out 110th year as an independent elevator company which is something that everyone past and present should be proud of.  Day to day we battle machines, multinational corporations & strive to educate building owners that there are good independent elevator contractor options.

This year we saw our maintenance portfolio grow from 1300 elevators to over 1500.  We started an Instagram account with over 340 followers.  We completed over 75 modernization and new construction projects. We added 2 service/modernization teams.  My term as NAEC president was completed.  We have quite a few new team members getting good experience under their belts.  We had a lot of growth over all as a company.  I am proud to be a part of this group of people who are carrying the Colley Elevator torch to year 111.  I often say from the person who answers the phone to the elevator technician who executes and everyone in between, it takes a team to complete everything we do as a company.  I get excited each time our warranty period ends and a building signs a maintenance agreement for the elevator we turned over.  That is telling me we are doing a great job from start to finish that the building wants to have a long term relationship with Colley.

Learning should be an everyday event for everyone. The main goal of the blog is to provide education and information to colleagues, building owners, consultants and elevator riders.  We had 46 blog posts, over 2,500 unique views in December[25% above last year] over 24,000 unique views this year, 73,968 since we began in March of 2014.

1/1/18 – Year in review Colley Elevator Blog – 2018 Elevator Blog
1/7/18 - Colley Elevator’s end of year get together
1/14/18 – Hydraulic freight elevator modernization
1/21/18 – NAEC Board of Directors mid year meeting
1/28/18 – Elevator modernization – Village of Carpentersville
2/4/18 – Elevator worker fatalities – Texas & New York
2/11/18 – Elevator maintenance – Building owner cooperation/exterminator
2/18/18 – Rockstar Energy – Elevator World – Craig Zomchek Profile
2/25/18 – CAI HOA Conference – Rosemont, IL
3/3/18 – Elevator modernization Downers Grove Park District – Downers Grove, IL
3/10/18 – Hydraulic elevator cylinder replacement – What we found underground
3/18/18 – Chicago elevator maintenance – Good looking work
3/25/18 – Old elevator controllers – ready for replacement
4/1/18 – City of Chicago Firefighters emergency operation elevator mandate
4/8/18 – Elevator industry consolidation
4/15/18 – Traction elevator modernization – long overdue
4/22/18 – NAEC Spring Conference – Carlsbad California
4/29/18 – Elevator constructor fatality – Columbus, Ohio
5/6/18 – IAEC[International Association of Elevator Consultants] Annual forum
5/13/18 – Proprietary elevator controls Vs. Non-proprietary controls
5/19/18 – Chicago Elevator Association[CEA] – Night at the Races
5/27/18 – Hydraulic elevator modernization – Arlington Heights, IL
6/3/18 – Chicago elevator maintenance, service, modernization & new construction
6/10/18 – Associa Cares – Casino Night 6/8/18
6/17/18 – Water damage in elevator pits
7/1/18 – Hot weather and elevator problems
7/8/18 – Are MRL [Machine room less] elevators dangerous?
7/22/18 – Anatomy of a hydraulic elevator – Borehole elevator cylinder
7/29/18 - Anatomy of a hydraulic elevator – Hole less hydraulic
8/5/18 – Chicago Elevator Association Golf Outing – Quest for the Chicago Cup
8/12/18 - Anatomy of a hydraulic elevator – Cantilever hydraulic elevator
8/20/18 – Traction freight elevator modernization
8/26/18 – GAL Chicago area office opens
9/3/18 – Traction elevator machine room modernization – Chicago, IL
9/9/18 – City of Chicago elevator code requirement/update
9/16/18 – Elevato rhydraluic power unit/pump motor valve replacement – Skokie, IL
9/23/18 – Elevator code changes – A17.1 2016
9/30/18 – NAEC 69th annual convention – Atlantic City
10/7/18 – Hydraulic elevator modernization needed – Skokie, IL
10/13/18 – Elevator door operator & cylinder – Evanston, IL
10/27/18 – How long should and elevator valve last?
11/4/18 – Elevator cylinder failure – deterioration of cylinder metal
11/18/18 – Elevator indpedent service – Get that couch in!
12/9/18 – Elevator fireman’s emergency operation
12/16/18 – Elevator equipment failure – exceeding life expectancy
12/23/18 – Elevator hydraulic fluid filtration/new/valve
12/31/18 - Year in review Colley Elevator Blog – 2019 Elevator Blog

I would like to thank everyone who has taken their time to read this blog.  I will be a broken record from last year; find your passion and when you look back on the year you will see how much you have grown professionally, personally and socially.  Trade in your selfish for a little selflessness, it will feel good and you will probably make someone proud they know you.  Life is the longest thing we will do but it is also the most fragile thing we have, do good things, be proud and have a great 2019!

If you have any questions or would like additional information feel free to contact me at or 630-766-7230 ext. 107.

Also check us out on Instagram @Colleyelevator see what we have been up to.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Elevator hydraulic fluid filtration/new/valve

We take care of over 1200 hydraulic elevators and we spend a lot of time working on valves.  It is always a good reminder to talk about oil care from time to time as it dramatically affects the operation and longevity of the elevator’s control valve.  The valve is one of the more critical systems on your hydraulic elevator system.   

Unlike automobiles we do not change the elevator’s hydraulic fluid every 3,000 to 5,000 miles.  Often the hydraulic fluid can be in an elevator for 20-30 years unless you have a proactive contractor to educate the building and recommend oil care.

 [Hydraulic fluid removed from a tank, note the sludge and sediment] 

 [After a proper tank cleaning]

 [What we found on the bottom of one tank]

 [What we found on the bottom of another tank]

Filtering of hydraulic fluid & cleaning the tank – Elevator hydraulic fluid should be filtered every 3 to 7 years dependent on usage & environment.  High usage or dirty environment will cause a buildup of sentiment from the air and break down of the pump and/or valve.  When hydraulic fluid is filtered it should be removed, the tank cleaned oil put back in.  There will be a loss of the original composition of the oil over time which can be combated with the installation of additive to help restore some of the fluids original characteristics.

New hydraulic fluid – Hydraulic fluid should be replaced every 5 to 10 years, again, dependent on usage and environment. 

New vs old fluid – Sometime in the last 10 years the way hydraulic fluid was produced has change, which means that new fluid is not the same as the fluid that was produced 30 years ago.  Just like most other advancements we make things cheaper but not necessarily better.  The oil industry also changed the way they grade the composition to compliment change in hydraulic fluid composition.

When oil gets too hot – When hydraulic fluid gets too hot it gets burnt.  Overheating or burning creates sentiment in the oil which some people consider contamination.  It is a good idea if you burn out a motor or if you hydraulic fluid has been over heated to have it replaced.  The overheating of the oil also changes the characteristics of the fluid.

When water is introduced to hydraulic fluid – When water is introduced to a closed system it is very difficult to remove.  There are a variety of ways to remove the water from the system, none of them are quick.  You should always replace what you can and put a water dissipation system in place.

Filtration bags – Some valve manufactures make a filtration bag system to help purify hydraulic fluid.  This is a great system but someone needs to pay attention to the bag, as time goes by the bag collects debris.  If the bag is left in too long, it will break and spread all the debris it has collected as well as parts of the bag.  The bag and debris will get stuck in the valve and the elevator system will not work correctly.  The issue with the bag is that it needs to be monitored and in order to monitor it someone needs to remove the tank lid and check it.  We have walked into more than a few buildings where a bag had been on for years and it created an issue because no one clearly identified this as a check point.  I.E. Large sign saying “check the bag” or “remove the bag on XX/XX/XX”.

Valves – Valves can last a very long time.  Leading valve manufacures recommend replacement of their valves after 10-15 years, again dependent on usage and environment. Manufacturers suggest that after 3 to 5 years components need to be proactively replaced.

If you have any questions or would like additional information feel free to contact me at or 630-766-7230 ext. 107.

Also check us out on Instagram @Colleyelevator see what we have been up to.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Elevator equipment failure – exceeding life expectancy

EWe spend a lot of time talking to some building owners about how long their equipment will last and when it should be replaced.  Unfortunately some building owners do not get this information from their contractors, do not pay attention or their current contractor does not let them know about the longevity of their existing equipment.

When we have a problem building it typically runs in a cycle.

-       Significant issue/event that effects reliability
o   Elevator down time 1-2 days
o   Resolution
o   Clean run time of 3 to 4 months
-       Significant issue/event
o   Elevator down time 2-3 days
o   Resolution
o   Clean run time of 2 to 3 months
-       Significant issue/event
o   Elevator down time 4-5 days
o   Resolution
o   Clean run time of 1 to 2 months

I hope you see a pattern.  We begin seeing the earmarks of a control system breaking down and our resolution time being longer than the previous times and our duration of clean run time is less in between.  Catch the pattern early enough so you do not put your building in a precarious position.

If your elevator system is beginning to show a pattern that includes your time between significant failures is decreasing and your clean run time is decreasing.  You are past the discovery stage of planning and should be taking action to replace the equipment.

[This equipment is 22 years old but not supported by OEM]

How long should my elevator equipment last? – Todays elevator equipment should give you good operation for 15-20 years depending on environment & usage.   If your equipment is reaching or past 15-20 years have your elevator contract let you know their thoughts on how long it should last and what are the expections on reliability.

[Fewer and fewer people know how to fix controllers like these]

What if I don’t like what my elevator contractor is telling me? – I have many conversations with building owners that do not like being told they need to plan for equipment replacement.  I can speak from the company I work for.  We do not want to spend 3 days trying to repair your elevator either.  If you don’t like what you are hearing from your current elevator contractor get a second opinion or find someone who has the domain knowledge on obsolete Westinghouse equipment that uses tooth picks and crazy glue to keep the elevator running.  But! Be aware of your obligation as a building owner to be responsible and accountable for the conveyance users safety.

[Finger prints here tell me there has been a problem before]

How long does it take to get replacement equipment?  I’m glad you asked.  Everything elevator related typically takes 4-8 weeks for engineering and delivery.  This is not like the hot water heater you can pick up from Home Depot the same day.  Planning is very important.  Be responsible, plan ahead.

If you have any questions or would like additional information feel free to contact me at or 630-766-7230 ext. 107.

Also check us out on Instagram @Colleyelevator see what we have been up to.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Elevator Fireman’s Emergency Operation testing – Too busy

Fireman’s Emergency Operation Phase I & II should be tested monthly per A17.1 any recently edition. – Firefighters’ Emergency Operation – All elevators provided with firefighters’ emergency operation shall be subjected monthly, by authorized personnel, to Phase I recall by use of the key switch, and a minimum of one-floor operation on Phase II, except in jurisdictions enforcing the NBCC.  Deficiencies shall be corrected.  A record of findings shall be available to elevator personnel and the authority having jurisdiction.

During a visit to complete the engineering on a 4 car modernization I discovered 2 pieces of paper 10 years a part which tells a story of how our elevator industry is changing[not for the better]. The first document shows between 2007-2010 FEO was being tested each month.  The second document shows that it hasn’t been tested in 2018.  Disclosure - This is not a building Colley Elevator currently maintains, we are completing the modernization, it is currently being maintained by a OEM.

[This sheet looks wonderful!] 

[The elevator inspector was nice enough to test is in October and circle expectations]

We are seeing more rules and codes written to increase safety and as an industry in general we are not taking the time or given the time to complete the items that once where being completed.  This all goes back to the theory

1.    Building owner must pay a company a reasonable rate for elevator service
2.    Company must give elevator personnel time to complete required tasks
3.    Elevator personnel, if given the time, must complete their tasks

If one of the three are out of sync with their responsibilities and obligations we will not have safe elevators.  In this case exercising FEO takes about 5 minutes on a one car or two car building.

If you have any questions or would like additional information feel free to contact me at or 630-766-7230 ext. 107.

Also check us out on Instagram @Colleyelevator see what we have been up to.