3 Signs Of Elevator Trouble You Don't Want To Miss

Elevators are a convenient plot device when a movie or television show wants to maim or kill off a character in a dramatic way. Despite what you see on the big and small screens, elevator accidents are rare, and even when they do happen, they rarely cause death. In fact, less than 30 Americans die annually due to elevator accidents, which makes the elevator one of the rarest causes of accidental death. Nevertheless, when you own or manage a building with an elevator, you can't be too careful. Despite the relatively low rate of accidents that elevators have, the liability for your building if an accident does occur is too great to ignore. Knowing the signs of elevator trouble is key to getting the maintenance or repair that your elevator needs in time and avoiding any accidents. Here are some of the signs of elevator trouble that you should be on the lookout for.

The Elevator Uses Too Much Energy

Even an elevator in good working order will account for a large amount of the energy used in a building. But if you've noticed a sudden spike in energy usage, your elevator may be the culprit. An elevator that's using more energy than usual is doing so because it's running inefficiently, and that may signal a problem with the motor that needs to be repaired. If it's been some time since your elevator was serviced, an increase in your building's energy bill should prompt you to call in an elevator maintenance technician.

To ensure that you don't miss a problem like this in the future, you might consider having a meter installed that measures just the elevator's energy usage. That can help you easily distinguish whether a surge in energy costs is due to an elevator malfunction or something else, like your building's HVAC system.

The Elevator Overheats

Overheating is a very common cause of elevator breakdowns. Overheating frequently occurs because the elevator's control system is located in either an unventilated basement or in a penthouse without climate control above the roof. Basement controls overheat due to the heat generated by the machinery and the lack of airflow. Penthouse structures often have some window ventilation to allow air in, but this also allows pollution, dirt, and rain or moisture to come in contact with the controls. Additionally, this ventilation might not be enough to cool hot machinery on a hot sunny day, which is why you may see more elevator breakdowns in the summer time.

Frequent overheating can damage the elevator's control system, so it's a good idea to have a technician check it out if you begin to see a lot of overheating. To avoid overheating, consider installing a cooling system in the area where the elevator controls are located. Opt for one that uses recirculated air instead of drawing in air from the outside – this will help control humidity, which can also cause overheating and damage to the machine.

The Elevator is Too Slow

Building guests or occupants dislike slow elevators, so if yours is unusually slow, you can be certain that you'll hear about it from the people that have to use it. Unfortunately, it's common for building owners and managers to chalk reduced elevator speed up to the age of the elevator, rather than realizing that it's a problem that may need immediate attention.

While old age certainly can be a reason for an elevator to run slowly, it can also be a sign of other problems. In a hydraulic elevator, slow operation is one of the early warning signs of possible hydraulic failure. It may indicate leakage in the hydraulic system. Even if you can't find any obvious signs of leakage, this could still be a problem, as the leakage could be internal rather than external. Allowing this to continue for long will result in greater damage and more expensive repairs, or necessitate replacing the system entirely.

Even if the slow speeds are caused by old age, that may be a good sign that it's time to replace your elevator system. Upgrading to a microprocessor elevator system will not only reduce wait times, it will also cut your maintenance costs in the long run. As the older relay-based systems become more obsolete, parts become more difficult to find and labor becomes more expensive, because less people know how to repair them.

It's a good idea to monitor elevator speed on a regular basis, by timing how long it takes to get from the bottom floor to the top floor and and the differences in speed between peak and off-peak periods. When you notice a dramatic increase in wait times, it's time to call the elevator maintenance company.

Of course, you should also look out for obvious signs of trouble, like elevators that get stuck between floors or doors that don't open or close correctly. Knowing when to call for elevator maintenance services will help keep your building occupants safe and your building running smoothly.