The Ups and Downs of Maintaining a Home Elevator

A home elevator can be a real asset to a home, especially if the residents experience issues with mobility. Sometimes, it is an added convenience if the house has several floors.  Regardless of the reasons for the elevator, it is a mechanical device that will need the proper maintenance to continue working on a daily basis.  To ensure an elevator remains in good working condition, preventative maintenance is vital.  

There are some simple steps that the homeowner can do as part of the elevator/ maintenance program. Keep a log.  Try to note how often the elevator is used during a day.  If there are any issues like doors sticking, or unusual noises, log those as well.  Some of the most common complaints include the elevator getting stuck between floors, strange noises from the shaft, a bumpy or slow ride, and high rates of energy used.  Mark the time of day to note if there is a pattern to the activity you are noticing.  This type of information can be helpful if a call to a repair team.

Be aware of weight limits.  One of the most common reasons for damage to an elevator is the transportation of overweight items. Overloading can accelerate wear and tear of mechanisms. A widely accepted guideline is to avoid transporting anything that weighs over ¼ of the maximum weight allowance of the elevator.

Another step the homeowner can take to maintain their residential elevator is to avoid using any industrial cleaners. The internal workings of the lift are prone to corrosion when harsh substances are used.  While it is essential to keep the unit clean, inside and out, do not use industrial-strength cleaners.

Any inspections and repairs should be done by professionals.  There are a few things the homeowner can do to troubleshoot while waiting for the repair company to come and service the elevator:

  • Check the circuit breaker; the unit may have just lost power.
  • Check the battery backup. See if the batteries are in working condition.
  • Check for doorway obstructions. Often pieces in the door track keep it from opening/closing.
  • Look for a reset switch. Some elevators have a built-in switch to return to factory settings and restore power.

Elevators should have regular inspections to check that all parts are in good working order.  These check-ups may identify if anything is beginning to wear.  It is usually less expensive to replace or repair a part when it first starts to wear as opposed to several components breaking down that could have been prevented.  The cost for repairs depends on a few factors, such as how many floors the elevator serves. The more floors, the bigger the price tag.  Costs vary if the door is electric or manual and whether the system is hydraulic, pneumatic, or vacuum driven.  The most common elevator repairs include malfunctioning doors, hydraulic fuel lines; piston failure; electrical problems; cables, and wiring in the cab.  Any of these could be expensive.  If the elevator is older and the repair bill is high, some homeowners may opt to replace the unit rather than fix it.

There does not seem to be one standard for the frequency of inspections in Canada.  For Alberta, guidelines for inspections, codes and standards can be found on the Alberta.ca website under the Safety Codes Act.  On the same website, Alberta Elevating Devices and Amusement Ride Safety Association (AEDARSA) is referenced.  It indicates they are working with Municipal Affairs and the Safety Codes Council to develop and provide relevant information about the elevating devices industry.  STANDATA provides bulletins and updates by email regarding the Safety Codes Act.  Regardless of codes, a home elevator must be inspected regularly.  This is something to discuss and plan with the company from whom you purchased your elevator.

Calgary’s own Ascension Elevators provide inspection services … even if we did not install it. In fact, we have a variety of maintenance packages to choose from.  We also offer sales, service and installation.  Contact us at 587-978-7566 or email at info@ascensionelevators.com if you have any questions or would like additional information.


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