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Dumbwaiter Tips and Resources

Overhead—Motors and vital dumbwaiter components are usually installed above or below the car. If installed above the car, then the overhead (the clearance required above the car when stopped at the highest point in the hoist-way) will be greater than if the motor was installed below. Typical overhead required is between 4″ to 18″.

Electrical supply—It may be a good idea to select a dumbwaiter that can operate on household current (110–120 volts, 60 Hz, single phase).

Frequently Asked Questions about Dumbwaiters

How long does it take to install a residential dumbwaiter?

Allow 1.5 days for installation of the dumbwaiter only. The amount of time required for installation depends on the complexity of the job. The hoist-way and openings will have to be constructed before the dumbwaiter is installed.

Do I need a pit for the dumbwaiter? If so, how deep does it need to be?

A pit is only required if the dumbwaiter is at floor level (many residential dumbwaiters are at “load level” or “counter height,” which is typically 36″ from the floor). If a pit is required, the depth of the pit would depend on the model, but the minimum is usually around 6″ to 8″.

Can I install a residential dumbwaiter myself?

Before a dumbwaiter can be installed, a hoist-way will have to be built for the car to travel in. Building a hoist-way in an existing home requires holes to be cut through the floor, one directly above the other for the car to travel through without issue. Electric wiring and plumbing may have to be diverted and load-bearing floor joists may have to be cut and weight redistributed so the floor doesn’t collapse. The walls of the hoist-way must be able to support the motor, cables, pulleys, guide rail and the car traveling along it. The dumbwaiter must be properly installed within the hoist-way to operate safely (motor, cables and pulleys installed correctly, interlocks work properly, etc.). Also, consider your own safety if you try to install a dumbwaiter yourself. You do not want to fall down the hoist-way. Most warranties will not cover installations performed by anyone other than an authorized dealer. An experienced local dealer will be able to install a dumbwaiter in your home so it’s safe to use for years to come. They can even work with your general contractor to build a proper hoist-way. If you don’t have a general contractor, the dealer can recommend one in your area who is familiar with dumbwaiters and building hoist-ways.

What about those DIY dumbwaiters that you can find on the internet?

Again, no matter how simple it may seem to build your own dumbwaiter, you will still have to build a hoist-way for the car of the dumbwaiter. The car is usually just a platform within a hoist-way, so items can fall down the sides and drop to the bottom of the hoist-way, or the platform can get stuck. Safety during installation is still a concern. Access doors for DIY dumbwaiters will not have interlocks so they should be used with caution, and children and pets should be kept away from the dumbwaiter.

Find out if a dumbwaiter will work in your home by filling out this form and speaking to a pre-qualified dealer in your area.