Chicago StormDuring a season in which weather can be potentially hazardous, it’s important that building and facility managers take the proper precautions to help prevent elevator damage and protect the safety of building occupants.

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, building and facility managers can start by inspecting the elevator machine room’s ventilation openings, windows and doors for possible rain leakage. If, during the inspection, water leakage is found, 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.

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, managers should run each car to the center of the building,” says Ryan Kraven, repair manager at Schindler Elevator. “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. “Managers should also familiarize themselves with their equipment’s emergency systems in case there is a need to exit passengers quickly,” adds Kraven. “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.”

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 skies are officially clear, 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.

Facility and building managers should 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.