Shoring Up Elevators Before A Storm

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During seasons in which weather can be potentially hazardous, it’s important that facility managers take the proper precautions to help prevent elevator damage and protect the safety of building occupants. Schindler Elevator Corporation offers the following tips to consider before, during, and after weather related events.  Facility managers can speak with their elevator service providers for more details on implementing safety measures.

Initial Preparations
A diagram showing the location of the elevators, car numbers, and the elevator car phone numbers should be housed in a designated security area. In addition, facilities should have their elevator company’s emergency phone number available along with any required numerical designations.

Before any inclement weather happens, facility managers can start by inspecting ventilation openings, windows, and doors in the elevator machine room for possible rain leakage. If, during the inspection, water leakage is found, managers can prevent water from reaching electrical panels by installing metal splash guards around ventilation openings and weather stripping around any machine room doors that open to the outdoors.

Before A Weather Event Hits
If a storm is near, there are steps that should be taken immediately to prevent damage to elevator equipment. The first step is to close all vents and openings at the top of the hoistway to prevent water from entering the elevator shaft. Next, managers should barricade the machine room, and be sure that no occupants are left in the building that are reliant on elevators for egress.

“If buildings have elevators that are enclosed, managers should run each car to the center of the building, or to the top floor for two story buildings,” says Josh Elliott, a product line manager at Schindler. “Elevators exposed to the outdoors should always be run to the floor below the top. After cars are parked appropriately, shut the elevator down with the keyed switch and close the doors to prevent unauthorized personnel from using the equipment. In addition, place the mainline disconnect in the ‘off’ position to completely remove power from the elevator.  Schindler personnel can provide assistance if a customer is unsure of what to do.”

While parking elevators and preventing unauthorized use is important, preparing for power problems is a necessity. “Since today’s elevator equipment is built with so many electrical components, there are emergency systems to become familiar with if there’s a need to exit passengers quickly,” adds Elliott. “Ensure that the elevator has surge protection or is operating with a reliable emergency power generation system backup, or an emergency return system for hydraulic, machine room-less or traction elevators and make sure emergency lighting and a telephone are operable.”

During and After The Storm
Refrain from using an elevator at all due to the water or wind driven water that can disable elevators and lead to dangerous passenger entrapments. Once skies are officially clear, check for water on the control panels or in the machine room before restoring power. If water is found, don’t resume operation until the elevator service provider provides a thorough inspection.

Because weather conditions can be unpredictable, Schindler recommends facility managers take these precautions and set up a process ahead of time in order to secure safety of the equipment and its occupants. Practice sessions should be conducted during low demand hours of the elevator system and in the presence of a supervisor within the facility, or trained elevator technician.

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