Photo 153133239 © Dmitry Kalinovsky |
A machinist repairs an elevator in its shaft.

The Unseen Building Safety Component: Proactive Elevator Maintenance

May 24, 2024
Elevators are one of the most critical infrastructure components of any multi-story building. Proactive maintenance is the key to avoiding a potential catastrophe with your elevators.

When you look around the lobby or hallways of an office building, hospital, hotel or other multi-story facility, you likely don't give much thought to one of its most critical infrastructure components—the elevator system. Elevator systems perform millions of cycles of operation every year, tirelessly ferrying people between floors. Yet because elevators and their technology are largely hidden from view, out of sight and out of mind, it's easy for property owners and managers to overlook a crucial responsibility—staying ahead of preventive elevator maintenance.

The elevator actually plays a vital role in safeguarding lives and operations. With heavy equipment components, powerful motors, tensioned cables and complex electronic systems, elevators require vigilant care and upkeep by certified technicians. The key to avoiding potential catastrophes is a proactive approach to elevator maintenance before small issues are given the chance to spiral out of control.

The Importance of Preventive Maintenance

Elevators are subject to constant wear and tear, with various mechanical and electrical components working in unison to provide smooth and safe operation. Without proper maintenance, these components can deteriorate over time, leading to potential breakdowns, safety hazards and costly repairs or replacements.

Preventive maintenance takes a proactive approach, addressing potential elevator issues before they escalate into major problems. Facility managers should partner with an experienced elevator service company to establish a comprehensive and consistent maintenance program tailored for the needs of the building. Through regular inspections, precise adjustments and timely replacement of minor components, certified technicians can identify and resolve developing issues at an early stage. This process not only enhances safety but also minimizes the risks of unexpected breakdowns that can significantly disrupt building operations. By avoiding prolonged downtime, preventive maintenance programs deliver convenience and assurance to those traveling within the building.

Preventive maintenance also extends the lifespan of elevator equipment, ensuring that your investment remains functional and reliable for years to come. Regular care and attention to the system's components can significantly delay the need for costly overhauls or replacements, ultimately saving money in the long run.

Choosing the Right Maintenance Program

When selecting a maintenance program, a one-size-fits-all approach may not be appropriate. Each building has unique needs based on factors such as daily foot traffic, usage patterns, equipment age and budget constraints. As such, many elevator service companies offer different program options to cater to the diverse requirements of their clients.

Typically, two main types of elevator maintenance programs are available:

  • Full Maintenance Program: This comprehensive option includes routine maintenance visits as well as any necessary service calls related to issues that occur between scheduled visits. With a fixed cost, this program provides a holistic solution, ensuring continuous monitoring and prompt attention for the elevator system when needed. The advantage of a full maintenance agreement is that it combines maintenance and repair services into a single, predictable cost.
  • Routine Maintenance Program: Under this program, routine maintenance visits are included in a fixed cost, but any additional service calls are billed separately. While the initial cost of the maintenance contract may be lower, building owners and facility managers assume the financial risk for unexpected repairs. This option may be suitable for those with a limited budget or a strong understanding of their elevator system's condition and anticipated repair needs.

Regardless of the program chosen, experienced elevator service providers generally follow a thorough maintenance protocol to ensure the safety and reliability of the elevator system. This protocol often includes:

  • Monthly inspections of all mechanical and electrical components, including the cab interior, machine room, pit area and top of the car.
  • Checking and adjusting oil levels, lubricating moving parts and replacing worn components as needed.
  • Monitoring cable wear and tension, door operation and safety mechanisms.
  • Adhering to all applicable codes and standards, such as those set forth by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and local building codes.
  • Documenting all inspections, adjustments and repairs for comprehensive record-keeping and informed decision-making.

By implementing a proactive elevator maintenance program tailored to your building's needs, you can mitigate risks, enhance safety, maintain reliable operation and ultimately extend the lifespan of your elevator system. Preventive maintenance is an ongoing investment in the long-term performance and safety of your elevators for your building.

About the Author

Jack O’Shea

Jack O’Shea is the owner and president of Start Elevator.

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