BY ALEX McFARLANE
During a season in which weather can be potentially hazardous, it’s important that association board members and their managers take the proper precautions to help prevent elevator damage and protect the safety of residents. Here are tips to consider before, during and after weather-related events. For questions or assistance, customers should contact their elevator service provider for implementation of these and other safety measures.
A diagram showing the location of your elevators, car numbers and the elevator car phone number should be in your designated security area. In addition, you should have your elevator company’s emergency phone number available along with any required numerical designations.
Before any inclement weather happens, start by having the elevator machine room’s ventilation openings, windows and doors inspected for possible rain leakage. 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 Storm 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, barricade the machine room, and be sure that no occupants are left in buildings that are reliant on elevators for egress. If buildings have elevators that are enclosed, each car should be run to the center of the building, or to the top floor for two-story buildings. 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.
While parking elevators and preventing unauthorized use is important, preparing for power problems is a necessity. Board members should designate someone to be familiar with the equipment’s emergency systems in case there is a need to exit passengers quickly. Ensure that the elevator has a surge protection system. If there is an emergency power generation system backup or an emergency return system for hydraulic, machine room-less or traction elevators, make sure it is reliable. Finally ensure that emergency lighting and elevator communications are operable.
Before 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. As soon as the weather has cleared, 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, 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.
Alex McFarlane is a director with Schindler Elevator Corporation, Portfolio & Repair Department.