New Hampshire Chapter of the Construction Specifications Institute

What Should Your Elevator Maintenance Plan Include?
By Stanley Elevator  

Elevators are complicated pieces of equipment. Whether traction or hydraulic, each system contains multiple safety components and hundreds of parts that need to be in optimal condition for the system to run safely and efficiently.

To avoid expensive repairs and the possibility of needing premature upgrades, an elevator maintenance plan should be an integral part of every property’s facility management. 

Why You Need a Maintenance Plan
Elevator maintenance is best left to the professionals. The systems are far too sophisticated for anyone without extensive experience to handle.

Technicians spend years in the field learning the ins and outs of equipment from manufacturers like Schindler, Kone, thyssenkrupp and other top brands. They stay current on new codes and state requirements, while understanding the common issues that can arise over time.

With a maintenance plan, your technician will continuously make sure that your elevators:

•          Stay up to code
•          Pass state inspections
•          Maintain maximum passenger safety
•          Have the lowest risk for costly repairs

Without any type of maintenance plan, a part could malfunction and go unnoticed for months, until a major issue happens with the operation of an elevator. But with a maintenance plan, your technician will catch any issues and fix them before they have the chance to escalate.

What Kind of Plan You’ll Need
Not all elevator plans are created equal. After you find an elevator service company to maintain your equipment, your plan will be dictated by the following factors:

•          The number of elevators you have
•          The type of elevators (MRL, traction, hydraulic)
•          The type of building they are in
•          How much risk you’re willing to assume

Once you’ve discussed the above items with your maintenance partner, you’ll likely be offered a variation of a Limited Maintenance Agreement or a Full Maintenance Agreement.

Limited Maintenance Agreement
Sometimes referred to as Examination and Lubrication (EL) or Oil and Grease Agreements (OG), the plans will include:

•          Preventative maintenance (on a scheduled basis)
•          Minor adjustments
•          Customer support
•          Annual inspections

This means that things like unscheduled service and repairs will not be covered, and will be billed at contract rates. You’ll also be billed separately for any repairs or replacement parts that are needed.

While Limited Service Agreements have a low cost on a monthly basis, unforeseen repairs and service calls can make the actual price much higher than a Full Maintenance Agreement.

Full Maintenance Agreement
Also known as All-Inclusive Agreements, these plans cover everything in a Limited Maintenance Agreement as well as:

•          Parts repair and replacement
•          Service callbacks during nosiness hours
•          After-hours support

Opting for a full-service maintenance plan is always the best option, no matter the type or number of systems in your building. The biggest benefit of this plan is that you can budget a fixed monthly amount without worrying about repair expenses.

Weighing the Costs of an Elevator Maintenance Plan
If you opt to go without a maintenance plan, below is a quick look at some of the costs that you might incur:

•          Service calls: During regular business hours, an out-of-plan service call could cost at least $300/hour. After hours will be even more expensive.
•          Code violations: Commercial elevators need to be inspected annually, which is a requirement set by nearly every US state. Maintenance plans will make sure an elevator is consistently up to code, but you’re on your own if you don’t have a plan. And breaching a code can cost as much as $100 for each day an elevator is operating in violation.
•          Modernization: Elevators will eventually require significant updates after wear and tear over the years, but maintenance plans are designed to maximize a system’s lifespan. Without a plan, modernization will need to happen much sooner. Depending on the specifics, this could cost between $150,000 and $1,000,000.

In addition, you need to consider the fact that the hourly cost for service calls won’t include the price of replacement parts. And a new motor could potentially set you back $5,000.

Conversely, here’s a look at the cost of a maintenance plan:

•          Elevators in small buildings: Typically cost between $3,500 and $5,000 per year.
•          Elevators in high-rise buildings: Typically cost between $8,000 and $10,000 a year.

Don’t forget: The exact cost of your elevator maintenance plan will depend on the number of elevators you have and what types of systems they are.

As with anything, elevators that are well taken care of will have longer lifespans than systems that go without, which will save you money in the long run. And while the cost of an annual maintenance plan might seem like a lot, just consider the price you’d pay for a premature modernization.