Building amenities, like elevators, 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.
“Elevators are not like automobiles,” says Lee Rigby, president of Vertical Assessment Associates in Tallahassee. “They are more like a building where there are different life spans for some of the different major components of the equipment. So, for example, while a driving machine might last for 30 to 35 years, a controller will typically last for 20.”
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 downtime is increased—this could require an overhaul.
“As elevators get older the frequency of their failures could potentially be greater so just like humans they need more care. Therefore, so on the older systems if you want to prolong their useful life, you would step up the elevator maintenance,” says Mike West, manager of Oracle Elevator in Ft. Lauderdale.
“If you asked me that in 1990, we would say that elevators last 30 to 45 years. Asking that today is a little bit of an unknown because we see computerized equipment aging and moving at such a rapid rate. A newer, modernized system is going to operate closer to 20 years as a result,” says West.