Monday, December 26, 2016

Finishing touches – Chicago elevator maintenance

As an elevator contractor/mechanic it is difficult to get to all of our customers, fix their elevators, replace required parts, complete annual CAT 1 testing, complete annual fire testing and at times cleaning gets put on the back burner.  We have been trying to clean up some accounts that we have had for many years and some of the buildings we have as new customers.

Most of the cleaning we are completing the building owner will never see as it is in the hoistway.  Just a few elevators that had some build up of debris, dust, dirt, etc that we cleaned down the hoistway.  Not only does it look better, it removes fire hazard.  Too much dust will create a combustible environment due to particulate. 


We are trying to also get to the elevator traction machines and find the lost art of painting elevator machines.  The first picture is a elevator we modernized and painted the machine.  The 2nd group is a newer account we are taking the time to paint the machine and machine room floor. 



We are also trying to get to elevator machine rooms that could use a nice coat of paint on the floor.  We picked up a account with 16 elevators and spent some time cleaning the machine rooms and putting a coat of paint on the floor.


In the fast paced day to day of we still believe it is important to make the elevator environment clean, when it is clean it is easier to work on.

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

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Elevator warranty versus maintenance

We receive correspondences from customers from time to time indicating they have questions on bills because they have just modernized their elevator equipment and it should be under warranty.  One in particular was a building who replaced their door operator and power unit and believe that all the service calls for their elevator should be covered.  The building went so far as to cancel their maintenance agreement with the elevator maintenance provider they had been using previous to our involvement to save funds.  While the conversation of warranty vs maintenance does not occur very frequently, it does happen, and we have to explain the difference between warranty and maintenance each time.  Each project is a little different so circumstances are always unique to the building.

We always encourage buildings to make sure they have a watchful eye on their elevator equipment.  When we fully modernize an elevator electrically and mechanically we will complete maintenance visits for the first year in conjunction with the one year warranty.  The perceptual black hole occurs when buildings do a little of this one year and a little of that the next year until their elevator is fully modernized.


Warrantya written guarantee, issued to the purchaser of an article by its manufacturer, promising to repair or replace it if necessary within a specified period of time.

Preventative maintenance - Preventative maintenance (or preventive maintenance) is maintenance that is regularly performed on a piece of equipment to lessen the likelihood of it failing. Preventative maintenance is performed while the equipment is still working, so that it does not break down unexpectedly.

I go to many condominium meetings and I know buildings always have funding challenges. Most buildings have good intentions when they take action and may not be informed on the implications of their decisions.

Building owner thought process – We are spending a lot of money on changing the elevator equipment I believe the company’s warranty should cover our service calls.

Elevator Company thought process – The building only changed 30% of their equipment and the service call was for a component they choose to retain.

Take away – Talk to the elevator company about what is covered and what is not covered prior to entering into an agreement.  Talk about what happens. It is better to have the conversation before so everyone is on the same page. 

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

Monday, December 12, 2016

Hydraulic elevator maintenance - cold temperatures

We have been having a warm winter until the last few days which have been more of a typical Chicago winter.  This is a reminder to building owners to keep your machine rooms warm to avoid any head aches from cold weather.  This is a repost from last year when we had extreme cold temperatures for a prolonged period of time.

 We have been visiting the same customers in the morning the last few days that indicate their elevator “does not work”.  When we get to the building we discovered the elevator room is ice cold and the hydraulic oil needs to be heated up.  We typically have the same conversations with building ownership about keeping their machine rooms warm.

The temperatures that hydraulic elevators fluid should be is 

Operating temperature  - 80 to 150 degrees Fahrenheit 
Operating temperature  - 100 to 130 degrees Fahrenheit 

Source - Maxton Valve[] - Maxton valve is one of the largest valve suppliers in North America.

Oil composition when it gets cold – When hydraulic elevator fluid gets cold it becomes thicker or has a higher viscosity.  

Viscosity definition - The viscosity of a fluid is a measure of its resistance to gradual deformation by shear stressor tensile stress. For liquids, it corresponds to the informal concept of "thickness". For example, honey has a much higher viscosity than water.

How does this translate to your elevator – In our Chicago area environment we use a certain hydraulic fluid that offers more flexibility between hot and cold environment because of our seasons in the Chicago area.  Due to significant swings in temperature in our environment when it is very cold the oil gets thicker and the valve and elevator system will not operate correctly causing a potential issue with leveling or entrapment.  The reverse occurs when it gets very hot and the oil gets very hot.  Both scenarios cause safety issues for the elevator riders.  If we always had cold or warm temperatures we could use a different hydraulic fluid that would be more appropriate for a hot or cold environment.  But! We live in Chicago.

What not to do – As a building owner it is very important to have your elevator running.  Some building owners take it upon themselves to improvise to get their elevators running on cold days with space heaters.  While the installation of space heaters is a short term solution, it isn't a safe long term solution as you will see space heaters in non-occupied machinery spaces that can malfunction causing smoke and fire hazard.  The space heaters also can overload your electrical circuits causing your breakers to trip.  The electricity costs to run multiple heaters in one year would probably be significantly more than the installation of a elevator tank heater.

[Space heater on the valve]
[Space heaters on the valve and oil tank]
                                              [Space heater in the elevator pit]

Recommended solution – Install a tank heater to be turned on during the winter months.  This is a safe alternative to what you see above.


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.

Take away - If your elevator machine room is 30 degrees on cold days, your elevator will not work properly.  If you cannot safely heat the elevator machine area to an appropriate temperature contact your elevator maintenance company to give you a price on a tank heater.

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

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Elevator machine rooms – Remove non elevator material

Every once in a while I get pictures from the maintenance mechanics because they can’t get into elevator machine rooms or there are write ups.  This post is a reminder to building owners to keep their machine rooms clear so we can do our jobs.  It is winter so our machine rooms become good places for shovels, salt, snow blowers, gas, etc.  All buildings have a better place to store non elevator related items then the elevator machine room.  If my suggestion is not enough, you will be written up by the Fire Department or the Elevator inspector for not having the correct electrical clearances and access to equipment Fire Departments or Elevator Personnel will need access to. 

  [This building has a big mechanical area with no separation between the elevator mechanical equipment and the boilers, they will need to provide a clear path to get to the elevator equipment]. 

   [There is an elevator machine behind all of the junk in the way]. 

                       [This non elevator equipment is orderly but still needs to be moved]. 

Take away - Move your stuff before there is an issue getting to the equipment or you get a violation written against the building. It is not the elevator persons job to climb over building material to get to the elevator to complete the testing, address a shut down or remove an entrapped person from the elevator.  The elevator person may huff and puff about the building items but the Fire Department may get a bit more worked up if they find things in their way.

Other items 

Formula Systems Holiday Party - Tuesday, December 6th
Chicago Elevator Association Holiday Party - Wednesday, December 7th - Dana Hotel - Chicago, IL

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