Building amenities such as elevator systems are often taken for granted. But, elevators are for more than just avoiding a workout and creating awkward silences between neighbors; they accommodate residents unable to climb stairs and are critical for deliveries and facilitating maintenance workers. At a certain point, no matter the age of the building, the elevator system will need maintenance or even replacement. The key is identifying signs of wear and tear before a breakdown occurs.
“An elevator in a typical residential building will about last about 15 to 20 years,” says Tommy Curran, president of North American Elevator in Linden. “The considerations on the life of an elevator would be the environment; an elevator at JFK won’t last as long as one in an apartment building, [because of] how much the elevator travels, and how clean it is.”
In the case of elevators, cleanliness isn't just about keeping those who use them happy. A consistently cleaned elevator extends its useful life. “To keep an elevator running it should be cleaned, like your house. You should do housekeeping, elevator shafts may need to be cleaned depending on the conditions of the environment,” says Curran.
Maintenance schedules are central to elevators for this very reason. “An elevator is a machine and as such should be maintained according to the use it gets. If you have an elevator that runs once a day it should be maintained less than one that runs constantly. An apartment building though, the standard would be monthly maintenance,” says Bob Shipley, general manager of RMR Elevator Company in Linden.
Even if a building owner is diligent when it comes to maintaining their elevators, there may come a time when it becomes unreliable and the down time is increased—this could require an overhaul.