11/01/2008

Renovating Elevator Cabs

What you need to know about elevator upgrades

 

Keeping Elevators Up to Code
During initial installation, an elevator is designed based on cab weight. "The building structure for the machine-room reactions, the pit loads, and the guiderail support are based on this weight; likewise, the machine, the car safeties, the buffers, the power unit and plunger, etc., are also based on the original installation weight," explain the professionals at HKA Elevator Consulting, Laguna Hills, CA.

Current national code allows for a 5-percent increase in weight based on the total of the dead weight of the cab plus full capacity of the elevator. "This usually amounts to an increase of 200 to 500 pounds of interior weight. ... This isn't very much if you're taking off plastic laminate panels and replacing them with glass, and replacing carpet with stone," says HKA.

If you do a cab upgrade and never tell local authorities, and use a company that's not familiar with codes, it's easy to overload your system and expose yourself to liability.

When it comes to keeping your building competitive, elevator cabs can be an afterthought, and can also paint a picture of disrepair throughout the rest of your facility if they're out of date. As the professionals at HKA Elevator Consulting, Laguna Hills, CA, put it: "If your elevator cabs look unsightly, are outdated, or [have an] odor, you're working your way toward a Class-B building."

Tommy Bowden, vice president of modernization at Frisco, TX-based ThyssenKrupp Elevator, offers two main reasons for cab renovations: aesthetics and ADA/code changes. Bowden says that modernization should also be considered to rid cabs of hazardous materials, such as products containing formaldehyde.

"If the cabs are original, and you're upgrading other [original] parts of the building, it's advisable that you upgrade the elevator cabs at the same time to complement the other building upgrades," say the professionals at HKA Elevator Consulting*. Something to realize in this case: Cab upgrades don't make elevators run better or faster. "You need to consider investing additional funds on upgrading the controls, signal fixtures, door operators, and other major components at the same time," recommends HKA. As Bowden explains, a cab renovation is basically just creating a better comfort zone for elevator users. It won't improve the elevator's functionality.

If upgrading elevator cabs is in your plans, HKA emphasizes that hiring interior designers or architects, who may not be aware of elevator codes, isn't the best route. "Many local authorities and/or unions require that anything done to an elevator be performed by, or supervised by, a qualified elevator contractor who holds a license to work on elevators." If this isn't done, elevators could be shut down or may cause injury or death. Some facilities professionals believe that anyone can do a cab renovation - and that's not true. "A company that does cab renovations must be licensed and ... up to speed on code requirements for design, weight, fire rating on materials, fabrication, and installation," says Carol Gray, Texas business development representative for Southlake, TX-based Eklund's.

"The building manager must take into consideration that the cab is only one part of a complex system," says Bowden. "Without completely understanding weight restrictions and code issues, the renovation could create elevator malfunctions." (See Keeping Elevators Up to Code, for more information.) Gray says that one common mistake involves the addition of stone flooring to an elevator with swing returns. "[It adds] so much additional weight that the elevator doesn't level any longer, and the owner incurs additional costs to rebalance the cabs."

New trends in cab renovations include lightweight materials and innovative fixtures, including monitors that display news, weather, or other information of interest. "Also of great importance, helping our environment, [are] LEED-compliant materials," says Bowden. Gray notes that stainless steel is popular in lieu of bronze metal, as are custom materials, such as glass patterns, metals, and metal etching. "As always, stone and wood veneers are timeless and trendy. Ceiling designs are always interesting, with new lighting fixtures on the horizon every year."

Leah B. Garris (leah.garris@buildings.com) is managing editor at Buildings magazine.

 


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Visit our website today to learn about the design flexibility of a Morton building and the endless possibilities of partnering with our designBUILD team.


Wood construction is both cost and energy efficient. Check out Morton Buildings and our designBUILD team online today to discover all the benefits of post-frame construction.


When choosing a metal-clad building for your next construction project, consider Morton Buildings, Inc., and their designBUILD team, we’ll make your dream a reality.

We Can Help You Reduce Energy by 30%

Our mission is to help our customers manage their buildings' energy costs, improve reliability, and enhance performance while having a positive impact on the environment.
CLICK HERE to find out how.

 

Add highly responsive multi-zone comfort to any building project, in any climate. Our CITY MULTI H2i R2- and Y-Series VRF systems give you flexibility to fit the needs of any building. Enjoy 100% heating capacity at 0°F outdoor ambient, and 85% heating capacity at -13°F outdoor ambient.  For more information, log on to www.mitsubishipro.com


Tennant Company is a recognized leader in designing, manufacturing and marketing solutions that help create a cleaner, safer, healthier world. With thousands of satisfied customers already using award winning ec-H2O technology, why not see what you're missing? Test ec-H2O on your soils in your facility. Get a free demo.


Tennant Company is a recognized leader in designing, manufacturing and marketing solutions that help create a cleaner, safer, healthier world. With thousands of satisfied customers already using award winning ec-H2O technology, why not see what you're missing? Test ec-H2O on your soils in your facility. Get a free demo.

 

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