Regular Elevator Maintenance Proves Essential for Healthcare Facilities

Prolonging maintenance on elevators can wreak havoc on facilities.

By Mackenna Moralez
August 25, 2022

Getting stuck in an elevator is a common shtick that television shows rely on for easy laughs, but for healthcare facilities managers, it is not a laughing matter. For hospitals and other healthcare facilities, elevators are an essential mode of transportation to efficiently move patients from floor to floor. When an elevator is out of order, it can delay schedules and put patients or residents at risk. Routine maintenance of elevators can help avoid hiccups. Healthcare Facilities Today talks with elevator manufacturers on the risks to hospitals and other healthcare facilities if they prolong maintenance on elevators. 

How regularly should inspections be performed on elevators? What are some risks that came from prolonging or delaying maintenance? 

“With proper servicing, commercial grade elevators can have lifespans of 20-25 years or more. Elevators should be regularly inspected and serviced to maximize lifespan and minimize the risk of issues that can lead to operational issues or unexpected downtime. We recommend monthly servicing for medium- to high-use equipment. 

When building owners enter into a service contract with an elevator manufacturer like Mitsubishi Electric, they benefit from knowing their equipment will receive proper, timely care, inspections and maintenance. Foregoing a service contract puts your building at risk of letting timely elevator maintenance fall by the wayside, and in many cases could place your equipment in violation of applicable codes. By allowing professional technicians to handle the scheduling of routine and preventative services, building owners can focus their time and energy on other needs. 

Equipment is only as good as its least reliable component. Ideally, parts should be inspected regularly and replaced before they show signs of wearing out or posing a risk to equipment operation. Prolonging, delaying or foregoing maintenance or parts replacements increases the likelihood of an incident that can impact passengers. Callbacks and malfunctions are likely to increase, and equipment lifespan likely reduced, leading to a premature need for modernization. 

Making proactive parts replacement and preventive maintenance part of a service contract protects your building and its occupants from potential hazards. You’re also saving yourself money in the total cost of ownership of your equipment, as reactive or emergency repairs tend to be more costly than predicted, scheduled replacements and servicing.” 

— Bruce L. Peterson, director of sales and commercial strategy, Mitsubishi Electric US.- Elevator/Escalator Division 

“Elevator audits should be performed once per year, with monthly inspections being conducted to ensure all units are operating at peak effectiveness while identifying potential issues through proactive maintenance programs that will extend the life of the elevator. However, building codes can vary by state, which may require more (or less) mandatory inspections, but these are the generally accepted time-intervals to follow. This dovetails to my earlier point, equipment age, type, rise and usage vary by site, and all should be considered in terms of maintenance or inspection commitments. 

Delaying maintenance or neglecting to implement a proactive maintenance program can put elevators and people at risk, especially if it is an older elevator. The older an elevator system is, the more maintenance and service it will need unless the building owner updates the elevator with modern components and equipment, which is highly recommended. Frequent maintenance is one way to keep an older elevator system operating, while an elevator modernization is more of a long-term solution.” 

— Kevin Robertson, executive vice president of sales, North America, TK Elevator 

“Typically service providers perform audits, and AHJ perform inspections annually. A facility’s service program, however, should be designed and customized to fit an elevator’s specific needs based on the elevator’s frequency of use, age, type, components of the system, location in the building, codes and criticalness of the elevator to the hospital. If this is not done, the medical facility runs the risk longer-than-normal downtimes, unscheduled downtimes, more expensive repairs, shortened the life cycle of components and heighten safety risk to passengers. The best way to put this in perspective is think of what you do with your automobile and what happens if you don’t do all the regular safety and maintenance items.” 

— Bruce Norden, vertical market business director, service business, KONE Americas 

Mackenna Moralez is the associate editor for Healthcare Facilities Today. 

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