A residential elevator provides convenient mobility between floors so you can get where you need to go safely. However, like any piece of mechanical equipment, home elevators experience wear and tear through years of consistent use. If this wear and tear isn’t monitored closely enough, it can result in needing system or structural repairs.
As more and more people choose to enjoy the convenience of an elevator at home, the question “Do I really need maintenance?” is becoming more common. In short, the answer is yes. Scheduling regular residential elevator maintenance at least annually is the best way to ensure the continued safety and effective operation of the machinery.
We’ve put together a guide to help you understand the benefits of regular home elevator service and general elevator maintenance requirements.
Problems That Can Occur In Home Elevators
Many issues can cause a residential elevator to malfunction, most of which can be chalked up to skipping basic maintenance. The following are common issues you might see with your home elevator over time.
1. Misaligned Motor Drives
One of the problems that occurs most frequently in home elevators is motor drives shifting out of alignment. A misaligned shaft is a hazard and can cause severe, uneven wear on the elevator that may require premature replacement of components. Elevator repair services use laser measuring equipment to check that your motor drives are aligned and that the motor bearings are in good condition.
2. Contaminated Elevator Oil
Like a lot of machinery, your home elevator uses oil to lubricate components to enable smooth movement. Problems like misalignment can cause small pieces of metal to contaminate your elevator’s oil, hindering proper movement and locking the elevator in a cycle of increased wear and tear. Maintenance companies can analyze the oil in your elevator to detect contaminants that can point to different problems with the elevator.
3. Power Failures
When the power to a home elevator fails, it’s not usually a dangerous situation because all Inclinator elevators have a backup that slowly lowers the cab so you can exit during an outage. However, not being able to use a critical part of your home mobility system can cause frustration and derail your plans for the day, so having the power to your elevator examined regularly can keep your life running smoothly. Elevator maintenance technicians can conduct a power quality survey to uncover any electrical faults that may affect your elevator in the near future.
4. Worn Sheaves
Sheaves are part of the cable system of an elevator. They grip the ropes, and when they rotate, the ropes move to bring the elevator up or down. For an elevator to work safely, sheaves must be inspected with regularity. If your home elevator maintenance service sees that the sheaves are wearing down, they will either replace them altogether or re-groove them to prevent damage to the hoist ropes and keep them in good shape for longer.
Regular maintenance can help prevent all of these common issues. It’s best to leave the job to the professionals unless you have extensive experience with how to fix an elevator.
How Elevator Maintenance and Inspection Works
When you purchased your elevator and completed the process of installation, your elevator company should have recommended a maintenance schedule of service every six months to one year. This is a standard service interval that economically preserves the function of your home elevator.
During a maintenance visit, a technician will come to your home to perform a thorough inspection of all the elevator’s critical components. The technician will have a checklist to work through, but inspection appointments are an excellent time to point out any special concerns you have about the elevator or service. The typical points of inspection include:
- Elevator gate
- Hoistway door sensors
- Car operation controls
- Buttons in the hall station
- Emergency systems
The systems above are checked to ensure continued functionality. The following systems and components should be checked to evaluate wear:
- Rail system
- Travel cables
- Fastening anchors
- Drive system
If small fixes like adding more lubrication are necessary, the technician may be able to complete these preventative repairs on the spot. If components need replacement, you will receive a quote for the parts and service required and set an appointment to make the necessary repairs as quickly as possible.
If you have any questions about the function of your elevator or how to best use it, this is the perfect time to ask. Don’t hesitate to bring up your questions. Quality elevator maintenance companies like Inclinator will go the extra mile to ensure you understand how to keep your elevator in tip-top shape.
How Often Do I Need Home Elevator Maintenance?
Most reputable elevator maintenance companies strongly suggest that homeowners do not go more than a year without home elevator maintenance, and the more frequent your service, the better. A lot can happen in a year, and something that starts as a minor problem can quickly escalate — causing damage to your elevator and making it more costly to repair. There are a variety of factors that affect how often you need service. These are three of the most important.
1. Model and Type of Elevator
You likely chose your home elevator model and type based on a combination of features and cost. Depending on the type of elevator, you may be dealing with more moving parts that need more frequent attention than other models. As part of your pre-installation consultations, your elevator company should clearly communicate any extra maintenance needs associated with your elevator model.
2. Existing Service Contract
Your elevator may have come with a service contract that has a certain number of inspections per year attached, for a certain number of years. If you do have a contract, not taking advantage of it is a big mistake. Pre-scheduled service appointments mean you have one less thing to keep track of in your busy life.
3. Local Regulations
When you were researching home elevator installation, you may have come across local laws that affect how often you need to have your elevator serviced. These regulations may seem unduly strict in some areas, but the rules are put in place to help homeowners minimize risks associated with improper elevator care.
Benefits of Regular Home Elevator Maintenance
Still unsure about the importance of regular maintenance for your home elevator? Think of it as a way to protect your investment. Giving your home elevator the attention and service it needs up front has significant benefits in the long run. These are just some of the reasons to commit to consistent maintenance.
1. Save Money on Repairs
If you’ve ever owned a vehicle for more than a few years, you know how important maintenance is for preventing costly repairs. Machinery like a home elevator can continue working when it has one small issue, but once you have more than one of these issues at a time, the risk of a more complex problem continues to increase. In the end, an issue that could have been fixed if spotted early ends up becoming a repair that can cost hundreds of dollars or more. Prevention truly is the best medicine, and catching problems early makes them easier on your wallet.
2. Stay Safe
Trying to DIY elevator service can be dangerous. When you’re handling electrical systems and other complex systems, making a mistake can endanger your life directly and make the elevator less safe for you and your family’s use. Professional home elevator service allows you to eliminate the risk of injury or accidentally damaging the elevator. Leave the hard work to the professionals.
3. Increase Your Peace of Mind
No one wants to spend precious time and energy worrying about one of the key fixtures in their home. If you’re hearing a strange sound or the motion of your elevator doesn’t feel quite right, don’t waste time worrying about what the problem could be. Regular maintenance is the key to feeling confident about the function and longevity of your investment.
3 Steps to Keep Your Elevator in Top Shape
Although you shouldn’t attempt to repair or service your elevator yourself, there are things you can do during daily operation to keep the elevator in good condition between service appointments.
1. Keep Track of the Elevator’s Operation
In terms of diagnosing potential problems in your home elevator, keeping a basic log of operations is extremely helpful. You don’t have to keep a tally of every time you go up and down, but having a general schedule that estimates the number of uses on a typical day can be beneficial. If you notice any issues, jot down some details like what time of day the problem occurs and whether it is more pronounced on upward or downward trips. These details can help you and your service company spot patterns, making diagnosis and repair easier.
2. Do Not Use Industrial Cleaners
You might assume that a piece of machinery like an elevator is something that needs industrial cleaners to look its best. However, industrial cleaners are so harsh that they can corrode your elevator’s internal components, especially if you’re using a spray bottle that may distribute cleaner into nooks and crannies. Be sure to contact your elevator maintenance company before using anything more powerful than basic household cleaners.
3. Be Aware of the Weight Limits
Home elevators can typically handle hundreds of pounds, but knowing the exact weight limit of your model is crucial to proper long-term use. A rule of thumb is not to overload the elevator with more than a quarter of its max capacity. Depending on the size and primary use of the elevator, you may need to give weight limit more consideration. For example, an elevator that is used to transport one or two people at a time may not have the weight capacity to handle someone on a heavy electric scooter.
Even a one-time abuse of your home elevator’s weight capacity can lead to issues. For example, an elevator designed for individual use should not be loaded up with a bed, couch and dresser while moving in or out of the home.
Choosing the Right Elevator Maintenance Company
While maximizing your elevator’s function and lifespan through maintenance is essential, it’s important to remember that not all elevator maintenance companies are created equal. The technicians that service your elevator are responsible for ensuring its continued functioning, so it’s imperative to know that they are up to the task. Look for these three qualities in your elevator service company.
1. Customer Service
A company’s service should extend beyond elevator maintenance and repair to making sure you feel comfortable. Do they pick up the phone promptly? Are they willing and able to answer your questions surrounding the service you’re paying for? Do they show up on time for appointments and treat your home with respect? If the answer to any of these is no, you may want to consider choosing a more reputable company.
2. Quality of Field Service
If you are at home when your home elevator service occurs, you have the opportunity to observe the way the technician works. Does the tech look like he or she is just racing through the inspection checklist so they can move on to their next appointment? Maintenance technicians should give every part of the checklist its due attention, carefully inspecting each component to make sure nothing slips under the radar.
3. Safe and Compliant Practices
Unfortunately, some elevator companies engage in dubious or even illegal corner-cutting practices such as back-dating inspections. Before selecting a company, check their reviews on various sources to ensure there’s no evidence of shady practices. The longer the history of reviews, the more accurately you will be able to gauge whether the company does everything safely and by the book.
Get Started With Home Elevator Maintenance
Your home elevator should serve you for years to come, and preventive maintenance is the surest way to make that happen. Scheduling regular maintenance can help give you peace of mind that your elevator will continue to operate safely and reliably. It can also help prevent more expensive, complicated repairs in the future.
To properly maintain your elevator, you need to find qualified professionals you can trust. To get started, find your local authorized Inclinator dealer here and contact them about maintenance and repair services.