Spot the First Signs of Elevator Problems Featured Image

Identify Early Signs of Elevator Problems

Elevators are a safe and reliable mode of transportation for your tenants and visitors, as long as certified technicians regularly inspect and service them.
But, as with all mechanical systems, problems can occur. These can lead to potential injury and expose you to expensive emergency repairs, excessive downtimes, unhappy tenants, code violations, fines – and possible legal liability.

By learning to recognize early signs of elevator problems you can make sure you always stay one step ahead.

Discover the Warning Signs

Elevators need regular maintenance to keep all equipment running smoothly, but issues may occasionally start to appear between service visits. This can be in the form of unusual sounds, jerky movements, or buttons that stop working. By spotting these early warning signs, you can address them before they become potentially expensive, disruptive, or dangerous, saving yourself major headaches down the road.

Here are some things watch out for.

Elevator Problems You Can See

  • Horizontal Scuffs on Outside of Doors
    Scratches and scuffs are indicators that the doors are beginning to suffer from misalignment. Doors that are misaligned can cause breakdowns, and potentially trap passengers in the elevator cab.
  • Changes In Door Speed
    If you see the doors slowing down or opening and closing erratically, it’s usually a sign that your operator system needs to be repaired or replaced. If you don’t address this, it can lead to a total door system failure.
  • Temperature Too Low
    If your elevators are hydraulic, you should regularly check the thermometer of your motor room during the cold-weather season. If you see that the ambient temperature has dropped below 50 degrees, it needs immediate attention. Cold-air leaks will need to be sealed, and you may also need to install an oil tank heating system. If the oil in the tank becomes too cold, it can cause the fluid to thicken, and your elevators will grind to a halt.
  • Mis-levelled Stops
    If you notice that your elevator stops just above or just below a floor, it’s a sign that needs to be taken seriously. This is not only a dangerous tripping hazard, but in places like New York City it is also a violation of DOB code. The regulations require elevators to stop accurately and consistently within a finite limit of ½-inch above or below floor level. If a gap is ignored, it will gradually grow bigger and become more dangerous.

Top Tip: In older buildings, mis-levelled stops are often caused by using an old, obsolete traction system that relies on mechanical brakes to stop the car. As the breaks wear, their accuracy decreases. To remedy this, you should get the brakes serviced immediately. Alternatively, you may want to look at upgrading your elevator to include a modern control system with electrical stops that have built-in tolerance levels. This ensures the elevator always lands in line with the floor.

Elevator Problems You Can Hear

  • Screeching, Thudding, Banging and Clanging
    A healthy elevator runs quietly. If you hear unusual noises, your elevator is indicating that there are mechanical issues that are on their way to creating future problems. These sounds shouldn’t be ignored, as any hidden issues can get worse over time. The quicker you address any audible elevator problems, the lower the repair costs and the shorter the downtime.

Elevator Problems You Can Feel

  • Speed Changes
    If your elevator speeds up or slows down significantly before stopping or if you notice the speed shifting, this is a clear sign of problems with cables, pulleys, and hoisting motors. To avoid a breakdown, contact your elevator technician as soon as possible.
  • Sudden Jerking
    Rough stops and jerking travel can indicate that there is something wrong with the components that move your cab up and down, and it may warn that elevator failure is just around the corner. It’s important to address this quickly, to avoid passenger injury and potential between-floors stop.
  • Stuck or Unresponsive Buttons
    Whatever type of buttons you use in your elevators, you should watch for any issues of them responding erratically. If there’s an occasional glitch, get the button/s replaced before they become completely inoperative. Unresponsive buttons will no doubt lead to huge frustration among your building’s occupants and visitors.

Did you know? The “close door” buttons still seen in many elevators have often been rendered unresponsive on purpose, after the 1990 Americans With Disabilities Act required riders with disabilities to always be given sufficient time to board the car.

Play It Safe – Always Be on the Lookout for Potential Issues

To keep your tenants safe and minimize problems, it is wise to be vigilant to the above warning signs and other advance signals that preventative service is necessary. But perhaps the biggest warning of a major upcoming elevator problem is if constant breakdowns are requiring repeated service call-backs to keep your elevator running. If this is happening to you – or if your elevator is more than 20 years old – it is time to consider an elevator modernization.

Talk To Us – We’re Glad to Help

For help evaluating your elevator system and to determine the best maintenance plan for your needs, call our friendly team at American Service Group at 877-689-0805.