Owning or managing a building with an elevator comes with a lesser-known responsibility. Not only will the elevators require regular maintenance and repairs, but they must also be inspected regularly. Much like you would take your vehicle to have an annual inspection and receive certification from your state, elevators require the same. The process of an elevator inspection varies from state to state. Here is what you can expect from elevator inspections in Alabama.
You may ask, “How does that work?” That is where we are here to help. According to the State of Alabama, it is the building owner/manager’s responsibility to ensure that happens each year to stay in compliance. However, many times your elevator maintenance provider or previous inspection company will help to remind you. Most third-party inspection companies keep a list of jobs that get yearly inspections and their expiration dates. These inspectors usually show up at or around that time. Your previous elevator inspection certificate has the expiration date on it so its best to keep that date in mind.
Your elevator maintenance provider carries out the annual testing, and Alabama does not require inspectors to witness the testing. The inspectors ensure that the testing has been done and all equipment has been properly tagged. The building owner or manager chooses the state inspector to ensure fair and accurate reporting. This also comes with an additional cost that is paid directly to the inspector for their time and service by the owner/manager. Many elevator maintenance contracts will include this service at no additional cost.
The purpose of an annual inspection of elevator equipment is to ensure the safe and effective operation of all vertical transportation. This includes electric and hydraulic elevators, wheelchair lifts as well as escalators, and anything that is open to the public for use. For elevators, this will include ensuring that phones are working and will reach someone in the case of an emergency or entrapment. Checking that all applicable Fire Service equipment is functional in the case of a fire. Assessing all hoist ropes are compliant. Testing all emergency lights and alarm bells are working appropriately and ensuring that all emergency-stopping devices work within the required parameters. This includes stressing the equipment beyond normal limits in order to check for its reliability should something happen.
In electric or traction elevators, there is an additional requirement that every five years, it should have a “full-load test.” This is where the elevator is loaded with test weights to capacity, plus an additional 25%. The elevator is then given a down call and must run down and stop at floor level. The governor is also tripped, and the safeties are checked for code compliance. This test can be very time-consuming in order to load weights in and out of the elevator and reset all safeties after testing.
Hydraulic systems are a bit different. Hydraulic elevators rely on pressure to run up and release this pressure to lower the elevator platform. Annual tests are performed with no load in the car. A gauge is attached to the hydraulic valve that measures pressure. The elevator pressures are taken at normal running speed. The car then runs to its topmost limit, and the oil can bypass. This tests the integrity of all hoistways, pit piping, and the integrity of the hydraulic jack in the ground.
Elevator testing is complicated but very necessary. If you have questions, contact us; we will gladly help. Until next time stay safe!
3rd Party Inspection
Once all testing is done, the third-party inspection company will provide the inspection report to the building owner/manager. This report will then be sent to the governing body, The Alabama Department of Labor. This will generally require some sort of fee for processing. After processing, the building owner/manager will be issued a Certificate of Compliance to be posted either within the elevator equipment or in a visible location. Should there be any violations noted on the inspection report, the building owner/manager must clear them as soon as possible to avoid repeat violations.
As always, your elevator maintenance provider is there to assist with the navigation of this process, help recommend a state inspector if needed, help with the performance of the inspection, and help with repairs as required.