Elevator Ups & Downs

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There are certain factors that should be considered when preparing for planned and unplanned elevator down-time. 

On-site time for elevator installation crews ranges from about two weeks for an accessibility lift, to four weeks for a hydraulic elevator, and six weeks for a traction elevator. Reviewing the accessibility of occupants in the building prior to starting a project of this size is crucial – especially if there is only one elevator.

ElevatorUsers of the approximately 19,900 residential and institutional elevators in Ontario take approximately 655,000 elevator trips in a single day. Users range from visitors to hospitals, schools, and public facilities; residents and guests of condominium corporations, as well as contractors and employees of other important facilities. Users may also be seniors with mobility issues, and it is important that their needs are considered if an elevator is out of service. Considering installation of a stair lift for the duration of your project would be beneficial if many of the users are seniors. Consider planning projects when your building is least active.  If you have many clients or residents that are away in the winter, this may be the best time to make the changes.

Preventative maintenance is not just regularly scheduled inspections. There are several types of preventative maintenance contracts, for example: Labour, Oil & Grease (LOG), Full Maintenance (FM), and Full Maintenance Extended (FMX). Preventative maintenance includes receiving feedback from the elevator mechanic on potential repairs. Quotes should be included with the reports when suggested or mandatory repairs are found. Managers may then take the correct measures to complete these repairs.  During down-time, managers should consider all other possible changes needed including ensuring the elevator is up to current code requirements. Having all repairs scheduled at one time is the best way to utilize your elevator mechanic’s time.  Notices should be provided to all residents or commercial clients to alert them to elevator down-time, and these should be posted on every level the elevator services prior to the date of work and for the duration of down-time. Advising occupants of alternate options when accessibility is a concern, or assisting with large bulky items that may be difficult to carry on one’s own should also be noted in the notices. Notices should be updated weekly to keep residents and commercial clients aware of the progress of the project. You might also consider having a penalty for every day that the contractor is behind schedule, but also offer a bonus if the contractor comes out ahead of schedule.

Ensuring that the preventative maintenance is effective is also crucial. Having a third-party consultant perform a maintenance evaluation will ensure that all areas of your elevator needs are being addressed. Elevator mechanics have several units on their routes which can cause items to be missed. It is important to have a second opinion when you have concerns with your elevator. Sometimes a second set of eyes can simply see something the first set did not. Maintenance logs should also be reviewed regularly; don’t be afraid to ask questions or meet your mechanic on site to have a better understanding.

A maintenance evaluation is different from a safety inspection. This does not mean that a safety inspector does not look at maintenance, they may write up a dirty pit but lack extensive maintenance and mechanical knowledge. A maintenance evaluation will make sure the elevator is being properly serviced. ElevatorMat

A full elevator replacement may seem difficult to justify, but due to new code requirements and parts of older model elevators becoming obsolete, it may be something to consider sooner rather than later.  A replacement project takes extensive planning.  Seeking feedback from your consultant’s previous clients may assist you in covering areas you may not have considered.  Consulting with your Fire Protection Company on this project is also important.  You will need to ensure that the fire panel is compatible with the update.  Many elevator modernizations end up requiring a new fire panel that can pin point exact locations of trouble signals whether it’s the elevator room or a smoke alarm. Having this information, a part of the bid process will save headaches when attempting to finish the project. 

If there is a generator that allows an elevator to be operable during a power outage, including the generator company on this project will ensure that the generator is compatible to offer this service during a power outage. 

Lastly, don’t forget your budget and financial adviser who should be fully aware of your project and additional items like the fire panel and generator which may require changes. 

It is important to have all parties involved with the project attend a “preconstruction” meeting to put all inquiries on the table and make sure everyone is on the same page.  Having surprises during the middle of a lengthy project just adds stress to the project managers, clients and residents. 

Being proactive, providing a flow of communication and being aware of the possibilities involved with modernizing and maintaining your elevator are ways you can be best prepared throughout any elevator projects.


A person wearing glassesDescription generated with very high confidence

Courtney Cartmill


Property Manager | Wilson Blanchard Management Inc.
200-149 Ainslie Street North, Cambridge, ON, N1R 3P4 

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