Home Elevator Installation and Service
Things to know about installation and service of residential elevators
Before selecting a home elevator, it is important to understand the requirements for installation to ensure that the elevator can be accommodated. It may be possible to install an elevator in an existing home, but naturally it is easier to plan for an elevator when you build a home.
- Allow for a footprint of about 5 square feet to build your hoist-way.
- Space below the elevator is required for the safety pit. The space varies by model, but allow at least 6″.
- You will need space above the top landing of elevator, called the overhead. This space varies by model, but you will need at least 1.5′.
- How many stops or floors do you need to service?
- Will you only need one door on the elevator so that you come in an out through that door, or will you need to have an additional door in order to get in/out at one of your additional stops?
An elevator rail will need to be installed inside the hoist-way for the elevator to travel up and down. The wall for the rail has special construction requirements in order to support the weight of the elevator.
The pit underneath the elevator must also meet specific load requirements and force as a safety precaution. If you install an elevator in a private condo and you live above another residence, there are additional requirements for safety.
Depending on the type of drive system the elevator operates on, you may also require a machine room to house the drive. A “machine-roomless” (MRL) elevator does not require this machine room and instead incorporates the drive with the elevator in the hoist-way (on the top of the car).
The preparation of your home prior to the installation of the elevator may be done by a contractor who works with the elevator installer to ensure that the site is prepared exactly to the specifications needed for the elevator you will be installing. You should not try to prepare a site without knowing the exact elevator you will have installed. Top manufacturers have planning guides available on their websites that include all the details on how to prepare the site. The planning guides are used by the contractor and dealer, along with the specific architectural drawings done by the elevator manufacturer that would be created for your chosen elevator.
Installation of a home elevator will take a full week and possibly longer, depending on the complexity of the installation. Your state or province may have specific requirements for the certification and licensing of the technician. You will need to use a dealer authorized by the manufacturer.
The installer will make sure that safety requirements are met for your specific model and the local building code requirements. For example, the area between the elevator cab, the door or gate on the cab and the landing door or gate must strictly meet a measurement governed by the authorities in your local area. This space/gap can pose a danger if it is too large because it is possible for a small child to fit inside the gap and close the outer door.
The elevator installer will also ensure that all electrical requirements are met. For example, the elevator must have a disconnect switch so that when the elevator is being serviced, there is no chance that it can move.
A proper installation will ensure that your elevator includes safety features such as locking doors that cannot be opened unless the elevator is at the landing. A light screen—which is a sensor built into the elevator cab, means that the elevator cannot move if the beam is broken. This is an added safety feature that companies such as Savaria come with as standard equipment.
Depending on where you live, your elevator may require inspection by your local authorities before you can use it. The inspector will make sure that the installation meets the local requirements, and generally, there should not be big surprises at this point if you have used a certified dealer.
Your installing dealer will then show you how to operate the elevator safely and how to use the emergency features, such as an emergency lowering system. Make sure everyone in your home learns how to operate the elevator safely.
Maintaining Your Home Elevator
You have invested in a home elevator, or perhaps you were lucky enough to buy a home that already had one. Don’t skimp on the maintenance and you’ll have a smoothly running elevator for many years.
Most dealers will offer you a maintenance service program at the time of purchase. This includes visits to your home to perform a number of diagnostic and safety tests to check key parts according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. The technician will replace any worn parts. He will lubricate various parts and replace any batteries if required.
Manufacturers offer parts warranties to replace defective parts. They usually do not cover the labor costs for replacing the parts; therefore, you will need to discuss with your local dealer and at time of purchase, you can opt for a service program that will cover these costs. If you do not maintain your elevator, the manufacturer will likely not be required to replace any parts for free. Use the installation dealer for service to protect your investment.
Following the recommended maintenance can help a home elevator can last many years. You may tire of the interior finish before the mechanics of the elevator stop working. Many elevator companies also offer updating services so that your elevator interior can be redone, along with some components.