Sunday, August 30, 2015

Planning for elevator modernization & the cost of emergency repairs

I was recently at a building this week and found some elevator equipment from late 1950’s to early 1960’s.  The elevator door operator sounds like a draw bridge is opening and closing and they have had some reliability issues.  This particular building has not saved for modernization and the equipment is reaching 60+ years old.  The building just recently started a dialog with their long time service provider about replacing their equipment. 

[I haven't seen too many of these door operators still around]

This is another reminder to buildings they should budget to have their elevator updated the same they would budget for new drive ways, roofs, boilers, windows, etc.  After elevator equipment is 20-25 years old buildings should begin talking to their elevator company about what they will need to be replacing.   This can be a longer term plan, but a plan needs to be made.

Costs of an older elevator – Elevator modernization is an expensive proposition.  But if building owners add up the repair costs of their aging elevator system, they may be well on their way to the cost of a modernized elevator.  We complete emergency repairs on older elevator systems and they always tend to occur on Friday at 4pm[or other very inconvenient times].  Elevator repairs are expensive not to mention “the over time” component.  If your modernization costs $50,000.00, $100,000.00 or $200,000.00 paying for stop gap repairs of $5,000.00, $7,500.00, $17,000.00 adds up over the years.

                                        [Emergency repairs never completely finished]
                                              [Emergency repair never completed]

Take away – If your elevator is over 20-25 years old start talking to your elevator service provider about how much you will need to invest in the elevator system so you can begin saving for it.  Long term planning does take time but it is much easier than trying to pay for a very expensive equipment replacement all at once.

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

Saturday, August 22, 2015

What happens when demo contractors try and take an elevator out

We are getting involved with larger projects that the elevator is a small portion of the overall project.  During the last 5 years we have seen time and time again that a general contractor may opt to have their demolition company remove the elevator system.  This is a dangerous spot to put the demolition contractor as well as puts the building owner in a peculiar position.  All work inside the elevator shaft should be completed by elevator contractors and trained elevator personnel.

Case 1 – There was a building that I went to where the demo team removed the elevators but they forgot to secure the hoistway so there are fall hazards in a building that did not have power.  The fall hazard was about 50'.

Case 2 – There was a building that was going to have a demo contractor remove the freight elevator.  The bi parting doors are in the open position.  

Both of these scenarios are not safe and should not be completed.  If you are a general contractor or construction manager, an elevator company may be a bit more expensive than your demo team but they will be 100% safer.

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

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Proper elevator machine room access

Safe access to elevator equipment is very important in our trade.  It is very important as inspectors, office staff and field staff to let building owners know what is acceptable and not acceptable access to machine areas, pits, control areas, etc.

[This is a kids slide to get into the machine room, to get to the roof you had to climb up a wooden ladder that wasn't structurally sound]

A few items to look for when entering machine or control spaces

1.    A permanent and unobstructed means of access shall be provided to
a.    Machine rooms and control rooms
b.    Machinery spaces and control spaces outside the hoist way
c.    Machinery spaces and control spaces inside the hoist way that do not have means of access to the space as specified in
2.    Clear path not less than 18” shall be provided in the direction required for maintenance access
3.    Must be fire rated
4.    Access to other locations within the building of access to equipment not related to elevators through the machine space, machine room, control space or control rooms shall not be permitted – This means that if you have to walk through the elevator room to get to the air handling unit would not cut it.
5.    A permanent, fixed, noncombustible ladder or stair shall be provided where the floor of the room or space above or below the floor or roof which the means of access leads, or where the distance between floor levels in the room or space, is more than 8”.
6.    A permanent, noncombustible stair shall be provided where the floor of the room or the space above or below the floor or roof from which the means of access leads, or where the distance between floor levels in the machine space is 35” or more.  Vertical ladders with hand grips shall be permitted to be used in lieu of stairs for access to overhead machinery spaces, except those containing controllers and motor generators.
7.    Stairs shall have a maximum angle of 60 degrees
8.    The list goes on with similar requirements

If you are in question if your building’s machine space complies talk with your elevator professional.   If the particular elevator professional does not know someone at their office will know and can get them the information to get to you.

Older buildings – We run into older buildings on a regular basis where these requirements just will not happen as an air handler has been in the way of putting a proper stairway.  In this case it is up to the inspector and the elevator professional to come up with a safe solution.

What does this all mean?  This all means that your elevator professional requires safe and reasonable access to the equipment that needs to be maintained, repaired or replaced.  If you are a building owner that has been climbing over an object and moving through a confined space to climb up a wooden ladder attached to a hoistway wall[which may have been there for 80 years] to get to the elevator equipment and you are OK with it, doesn’t necessarily mean it is safe and reasonable to expect an elevator professional to do so.

We want to maintain your elevator equipment in a safe manner, we ask for your help as building owners and managers to help us do so.

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

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Elevator preparations during harsh weather

I signed on to a news aggregation site and I got a press release from a multi-national elevator company with some good ideas for building owners.  Please note that while I agree these are good ideas they are copied from another source.  What you should take away from this is to get together with your elevator company to have a plan in place so the right people know what to do when a situation comes up.  Emergency weather situations come flying up quickly so figure it out before hand and you could save yourself money and headaches.

Initial Preparations

A diagram showing the location of your elevators, car numbers and the elevator car phone number should be in your designated security area. In addition, you should have your elevator company’s emergency phone number available along with any required numerical designations.

Before any inclement weather happens, building and facility managers can start by inspecting the elevator machine room’s ventilation openings, windows and doors for possible rain leakage. If, during the inspection, water leakage is found, prevent water from reaching electrical panels by installing metal splash guards around ventilation openings and weather stripping around any machine room doors that open to the outdoors.

Before a Storm Hits

If a storm is near, there are steps that should be taken immediately to prevent damage to elevator equipment. The first step is to close all vents and openings at the top of the hoistway to prevent water from entering the elevator shaft. Next, barricade the machine room, and be sure that no occupants are left in buildings that are reliant on elevators for egress.

If buildings have elevators that are enclosed, managers should run each car to the center of the building, or to the top floor for two-story buildings. Elevators exposed to the outdoors should always be run to the floor below the top. After cars are parked appropriately, shut the elevator down with the keyed switch and close the doors to prevent unauthorized personnel from using the equipment. In addition, place the mainline disconnect in the "off" position to completely remove power from the elevator. Elevator personnel can provide assistance if a customer is unsure of what to do.

While parking elevators and preventing unauthorized use is important, preparing for power problems is a necessity. Managers should also familiarize themselves with their equipment’s emergency systems in case there is a need to exit passengers quickly. Ensure that the elevator has a surge protection system. If there is an emergency power generation system backup or an emergency return system for hydraulic, machine room-less or traction elevators make sure it is reliable. Finally ensure that emergency lighting and elevator communications are operable.


Before and After the Storm

Refrain from using an elevator at all due to the water or wind-driven water that can disable elevators and lead to dangerous passenger entrapments. As soon as the skies are officially clear, check for water on the control panels or in the machine room before restoring power. If water is found, don’t resume operation until the elevator service provider provides a thorough inspection.

Because weather conditions can be unpredictable, We recommend facility and building managers take these precautions and set up a process ahead of time in order to secure safety of the equipment and its occupants. Practice sessions should be conducted during low-demand hours of the elevator system and in the presence of a supervisor within the facility, or trained elevator technician.

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