If you’ve ever lived in a “walk up” apartment building, you’ll never take an elevator for granted again. More than simple convenience, elevators also accommodate residents with disabilities or who are otherwise unable to climb stairs, and facilitate bulky or heavy deliveries.
The typical life span of an elevator is about 25 years, and much like any other heavily-used machine, preventive maintenance is imperative. Even if a building owner is diligent with elevator maintenance protocols, there may come a time when the equipment becomes unreliable and is rendered unusable for a period of time. Any modification to an existing system is characterized as a modernization, which is further categorized as either “partial” or “full.” In contrast to a modernization, the installation of new rails results in the project being defined as “new construction,” the same as if a new elevator is installed from the ground up.
Since it’s not a question of “if” an elevator will need maintenance, but “when” it will require service, it is always best to be proactive instead reactive. While this includes yearly inspections by certified professionals, when the time comes to make a change, the city gets involved.
The Department of Buildings’ Elevator Division oversees the use and operation of all New York City’s elevators, escalators, amusement rides and other related devices and enforces the New York City Building Code and standards established by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), with some modifications. The elevator company must file for a permit detailing the scope of work, code references for each item and layout drawings of the project. These submissions are reviewed and if acceptable, a permit for the work is issued. At the end of the project, a complete safety test and inspection is performed by the DOB in conjunction with the elevator company to ensure all work was performed as listed in the permit and the elevator meets all code requirements. The DOB requires notification of 10 calendar days prior to performing the test by filing a ELV36 Elevator/ Escalator Test Notification Form. If defects are discovered, the building owner has 45 days to correct the problem, which will either involve modernization or replacement. Either way, your elevator cannot be put back into service until the problem is fixed.