Everything About Apartment Elevators / Lifts: Safety, Servicing, Modernisation and Compliance

by Krishanu

Elevator, commonly known as Lift, has become an essential element in day to day Apartment living. In this extensive blog we will cover in details the requirements for apartment elevators maintenance:

  • Various Do’s and Don’t related to Elevators
  • Precautions you should take during Monsoons
  • Servicing Elevators in Apartments and Modernization
  • ISO standards and PWD rules for elevators, Apartment Lifts
  • Lift Accessories

Apartment Lift Elevators

Before I take you in detail through the various aspects of Apartment Lift Usage and apartment elevators maintenance, which will help to improve operation performance, check safety aspect of elevator and increase life of elevators, lets cover in brief the common terms and acronyms used in relation to Lifts, types of lifts and safety systems in Lifts.

Common Lift Terms:

  • Shaft: RCC structure in which elevator moves up and down
  • Cabin/Car: Steel enclosure of elevator in which passengers travel
  • COP: Car operating panel, a panel inside car which is used to give command to elevator to move to particular panel
  • LOP / HOP: Landing operating panel or Hall operating panel, a push button in lobby which is provided to call elevator to particular floor
  • Landing: Any typical floor of building where passengers move in and out of the elevator
  • MPS: Meters per second, used for defining speed of the elevator.

Controller Types for Elevators in Apartment Complexes:

Presently, most Lifts in Apartments are of the below two types:

  • Down collective: In this type of control logic, the car moves up based on any landing call but while coming down it can stop at multiple floors to collect passenger where ever landing button is pressed
  • Full collective: One can call elevator to move up or down from any floor. Based on direction of button pressed elevator moving up or down will attend the call.

Easiest way to identify which type of elevator controller your housing society has is from the landing operating button. If on each floor there are two buttons with up and down arrow, it indicates that the controller is full collective. If all floors have a single button, it indicates that elevator is down collective.

Click here for more on Types of Elevators, Safety Systems And Apartment Elevators Maintenance

Safety Systems in Elevators

In a lift, safety of passenger is given utmost important – the most vital part of apartment elevators maintenance. There are multiple safety features provided in a certified elevator.

Over speed governor: In order to protect the elevator from exceeding rated speed, an over speed device called over speed governor is compulsory for all elevators. In case of elevators traveling in 40% excess of designed speed, this will come in to action and stop the elevator. This devise is designed to work for elevator cars traveling in down direction. In case of over-speed this activates the safety block of elevator car thus jamming the car with rails. It is this safety block that can hold the elevator car in its place even in very rare and extreme case of breaking of main ropes.

Over travel protection : Electronic as well as more than one mechanical limit switch are provided on terminal landing i.e. lobby and top most floor to ensure that the elevator do not over travel and hit the ceiling in up direction or pit in down direction.

Door & door lock: The shaft in which the elevator moves is a void. Passengers standing on any floor is protected from this void with the landing door. The landing door is provided with mechanical as well as electrical safety.

Overload sensor: Every elevator is provided with sensors to monitor passenger load inside the elevator, in case the load is more than the rating capacity, the elevator will give alarm and will not take any command

Light curtain: This is an electronic device at entrance of the car door, this is to detect in and out passenger movement from car. The detector, on sensing obstruction, retrace doors while closing

Automatic Rescue device: This is a battery operated device that help apartment elevators to come to the nearest floor and stop during power failure. This helps in rescuing passengers if necessary.

Emergency Alarm: Every elevator is provided with a battery operated emergency alarm so that if someone is trapped inside the elevator, he/she can press the button inside elevator and attract attention

Intercom: Battery operated intercom is provided so that the person inside the elevator can connect to lobby if he/she needs help.

Emergency light: One among all the lights inside the elevator car needs to be supported by battery or UPS so that when power fails this light will continue to provide necessary illumination.

Buffer Springs: Springs are provided below the car. This acts as a counter weight so that in rare case of car over traveling in either direction some mechanical energy gets absorbed reducing the impact to passengers inside the lift

DO’s and Don’ts for Apartment Elevators : The Bible For Apartment Elevators Maintenance

Most elevator companies provides a sticker plate that mentions the Do’s and Don’ts for the elevator. I will try to cover more specific points here that will help to improve operation performance, check safety aspects of elevator and increase the life of elevators.

  • Never allow kids to play in the lobby area adjacent to elevators doors, There are serious accidents which have been recorded in the past from kids playing around the lift area
  • While cleaning or washing the lobby never push extra water into the lift shaft. There are safety circuits installed along the shaft wall from inside. Water entry can cause break down and even resulting in short circuit, which can make elevator run in unsafe conditions
  • Be very careful at time of fire drill or testing of fire water system in the building. Rush of water into shaft and on car top can cause heavy damage to sensitive components of elevators affecting apartment elevators maintenance.
  • Never try to force open the landing door, or insert any object while closing of landing door to force it open. As long as doors retract with functioning of light curtain, it is safe.
  • If your elevators in the lobby are not in group, do not press all lobby buttons as that will make all elevators to respond resulting delay in other calls and increase in electricity bill of the building. Try to operate multiple elevators in group control
  • If your elevator is full collective, having up and down buttons on all floors, please educate residents, for proper use. Pressing multiple buttons cause delayed response and more electricity consumption causing compromise in apartment elevators maintenance.
  • In case somebody is trapped inside elevators, look for professional help. Unsafe rescue is far more dangerous that people remaining trapped inside. There is enough supply of air from natural ventilation. Fear is more psychological.
  • If passengers inside elevators need to be rescued, ensure some member of the society or from building maintenance / security are trained by the elevator maintenance agency.
  • Ask proper documented dos and don’ts for passenger rescue from your Apartment Elevators Maintenance Company.

(There are more accidents and mishaps which has happened during unsafe rescue operation carried out by society residents/staff. People inside elevator are perfectly safe till professional help arrives.)

  • It is a good practice to check the intercom, emergency bell and light curtain on regular basis by housing society members as these are safety devices which are of much use during times of emergency. These things can be checked even during the normal travel of elevators
  •  Keep monitoring abnormal noise while traveling or noise of leveling of elevator on the floor
  • Once in a while check the operation of fire man switch as this function is very critical in case of fire in the building. It takes less than 10 minute to check this operation
  • After every service from your maintenance agency, insist on a report detailing which part of elevator is serviced and which components were replaced. Also ask your maintenance agency to submit a report on routine check up which shall include:
    • Operation of all emergency response systems like intercom, emergency light, emergency bell, automatic rescue device.
  • Every year insist on annual health report which shall mention condition of ropes, sheave, machine, safety action, governor operation, over travel limit setting, condition of traveling cable, and all safety circuits. This will ensure thorough check is done once in a year.
  • Once in few months visit the machine room, that will help you to get a snapshot of the maintenance standard.

Monsoon precautions

Beside normal precautions, Monsoons call for some extra care for apartment elevators maintenance:

  • It is important to waterproof the elevator pit. Check before monsoons the condition of the pit.
  • Proper protection of machine room is essential to ensure no water ingress is there from doors, windows or any other open cut out
  • Ensure no water ingress is there from building terrace on the staircase as it will enter the shaft from top floor landing

If water is the inside your elevator pit, it is essential to switch off your apartment elevator as the water can be carried up by the traveling cable which can result in unsafe operation.

Everything related to Apartment Lift

Service Contract for Apartment Elevators Maintenance and how to monitor the Service Quality

Make of elevator, i.e. elevator brand, is not the only factor which decide the performance of an elevator. It is routine maintenance that is of paramount importance for safe and efficient operation of an Apartment Lift.

Annual maintenance contracts: There are generally three types of contract which exist:

  • Comprehensive Maintenance Contract,
  • Semi Comprehensive contract and
  • Oiling and greasing contract.

Based on type of contract, coverage of free replacement of parts is decided. It is important to read the inclusion and exclusions mentioned in this contract document.

Following are critical elements of Apartment Lifts which are subject to more wear and tear.

  • Machine (Including motor and gear in cased of geared)
  • Main sheave, deflector pulleys, car top pulley as applicable for system
  • Main ropes
  • Car and Landing doors
  • Door operating motor
  • Car guide shoes
  • Governor

Sensitive components which also need attention are:

  • Main controller
  • Door motor controller
  • Variable frequency drives
  • Door motor controller
  • Landing and car buttons
  • Landing and car display
  • ARD controller
  • Battery
  • Intercom

As a Society or Apartment Association member one needs to verify which of the components are covered in AMC replacement

Clauses which you need to check carefully in an AMC for elevators are:

  • Frequency of visit,
  • Response time to breakdown &
  • Annual inspection.

All contracts generally specify about regular visits. However, very few define what work will be done in those regular visits. It is important to very clear about this aspect and have it documented. As a Management Committee or RWA member do not forget to ask your AMC provider to explain in details about kind of work will be done in such a visit and then monitor it accordingly.

Quality of service

This is a vital but non visible aspect of the service done to the Apartment Lift. Since the entire work of elevator maintenance is done either in machine room or from top of car, users are not exposed to the kind of work done. Every elevator company has their own methodology of maintenance.

Maintenance is broken down into following aspects

Routine maintenance: which covers all user interface aspect of elevators like call buttons, display, levelling of elevator, intercom, ARD. Light, door operation etc.

Preventive maintenance: Based on defined frequency some component of elevator needs preventive maintenance like machine, ropes, break, car guide shoes, rails etc.

Major repair and replacement: Some mechanical components need replacement on basis of their life cycle. The same is done either based on time lapsed or visual inspections. Electronic components cannot be replaced by visual inspection. They are subjected to regular testing and are replaced based on defined mean time between their inception and estimated time when it would fail or on actual failure of components.

Breakdown repairs: Repair or replacement of particular components to restart elevator on breakdown.

How to Monitor Service Quality

  • Easiest way to monitor quality of service is to track the number of breakdowns.
    • Keep track of number of breakdowns on each elevator and reason for every breakdown. If one notices that avoidable breakdowns are more, that indicates that the service quality is poor.
  • Notice the ride quality.
    • Ride Quality is to get feel of elevator while moving up and down. While riding elevator switch off the fan and hear out for any abnormal noise, jerks while moving up and down.
  • Check how smoothly opening and closing of automatic doors are working.

Other ways you can judge the quality of your service provider:

  • Response time from your AMC provider for break down calls
  • Knowledge of technician responsible for maintenance.
    • You can judge this by having a casual interaction with the service personnel and asking him questions regarding the service being done
  • Quality of data provided for breakdown and replacement of parts.
  • Annual Inspection certificate provided to assure safe operation of elevators.

Life of an Apartment Lift

Public Works Department of India has mentioned that the general life of an elevator is around 15 years which can be further extended by 5 years based on certification of maintenance agency. However, this life depends on factors like Make of elevator, its usages, customer handling, preventive service and traffic pattern.

Apartment Lift Modernisation

Modernization of Apartment Lifts

You may want to replace a few parts of the lift instead of conducting an entire overhaul or replacement of lift at times. If one wants to address technology obsolesce then replacement of controller fixtures and wiring is sufficient, for mechanical life replacing motor along with controller fixture and wiring will serve purpose. For just look and feel simple cabin modification and landing door replacement serve purpose.

All elevator companies offers various packages to serve need of customers. It is very important for the society to identify the purpose of modernization and then make the right choice.

Critical considerations for modernization

  • Define clear objective for modernization
  • Some modernization like increase in speed, number of stop, making elevator VVVF may need PWD certification, that need some amount of paper work so ensure that is considered during discussion with Elevator Company you are talking to
  • Modernization also calls for shutdown of running elevator, it is essential that this period is well defined while finalizing the contract.
  • It is better to keep civil work to minimum to have lesser impact on shutdown.
  • If you are choosing an Elevator Company different from the original make / Maintenance Company ensure that company has necessary spares support for part which is kept original. Clarify who will be responsible during transition for maintenance, as outgoing party may not be interested and incoming may not have necessary spares to maintain till modernization is compete

Define clear expectation post modernization

  • Modernization may increase cost of annual maintenance contract, get it defined before modernization work is awarded to avoid surprise
  • During modernization there can be unsafe conditions for residents. Ensure that elevator companies take adequate precaution for protection of residents, particularly children and elders. Discuss this with the company who is being awarded the contract for modernization of your apartment’s lifts
  • Material storage and material movement can be a challenge during modernization, take suggestion from elevator companies for the same.
  • Avoid monsoon as a season for modernization for obvious reason of water menace for stored material.
  • Noise can be an issue during modernization, keep residents informed and ready for some inconvenience, else it can be difficult for the Elevator Company to meet schedule.
  • It is a good practice to do upkeep of shaft interior and replacement of electrical cable for main power and lighting during modernization. But take a decision based on actual site conditions
  • If you are involving multiple agencies it can be challenging to choose the right player as there are many new technologies and terminologies which agencies use. This can create confusion, one can consider hiring a consultant for giving an independent opinion.

Brief on IS standard and PWD rules for elevator

Elevators being a man riding device, has IS specifications and PWD rules for compliance. IS 14665 is a detailed code that elevator companies need to comply to. IS is an advisory code, elevators are defined and given license by state PWD (Public Works Department). In most states there is a lift inspector who has the authority for giving permission for installation of lift and operation of lift. This department uses PWD Lift Act for enforcement of lift compliance. Among all, Mumbai Lift Act is the oldest and most elaborate and most other states follow the same act with some modifications.

Every elevator company needs a license to operate (This is the case in most states but not compulsory in all states). In states where the PWD has a Lift Inspector, it is compulsory to have a lift operation permission issued by PWD. Lifts get annually inspected by PWD to ensure it is safe to use. Ensure your society has the license and is renewed every year. All elevator companies need to have a license to install and maintain apartment lifts so that they are well aware about PWD norms and IS standards. As long as your maintenance agency is approved by the PWD, your society need not dwell deep in norms of the Act as it is elaborate and complex.

Lift Accessories

Lifts have undergone dramatic changes in the last 6 decades of existence in India. From being a mere necessity it has moved towards becoming a hi-tech possession. There are elevator accessories that can add a lot of value to users based on the type of building that elevator is in.

Voice announcer This can help visually challenged people to get in and out of elevators
Braille Signage on buttons Very useful for visually challenged people to operate elevators without depending on other
Intercom Important means of communication for trapped passengers to reach out from car to lobby/security gate for getting help
GSM intercom Assured way to get help to trapped passenger in case no one responds from the lobby
Multimedia display Useful device to keep passengers engaged during travel. This can also be used for captive advertisement, announcement and communication
Access control system This is useful to make building access secure. This can help to restrict access to building to authorised people only
CCTV inside elevator This is very essential and useful to know who is entering and exiting elevator on which floor. (Ensure use of proper traveling cable or wireless methods)
Air conditioner For high rise apartment buildings elevator travel can be uncomfortable in hot and humid days. Air conditioning can help to cope up with this.

(This Blog is authored by Mr. Shirish P Talwalkar. He has more than 15 years of working experience in elevator and component industry. He has handled diverse portfolio of installation, service, modernisation, sales and manufacturing in leading elevator companies in India. He can be reached at shirish.talwalkar@gmail.com)

Also checkout our other blogs on Elevator Safety for Apartment Residents and Elevator Safety Systems in Residential Apartments and share with the Management Committee of your Society.

The apartment management software, ADDA, also comes with Asset Tracker helping to ensure all assets AMCs are filed on time.

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1 comment

Apartment Lifts: Servicing, Modernization & Lift Accessories July 5, 2016 - 11:00 am

[…] have covered the first 2 topics in our first blog: Measures To Ensure Improved Life of Apartment Elevators / Lifts. In this blog I will cover the rest of the […]

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