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The Problem: Taking Routine For Granted

One thing leads to another. A lot of our jobs are at buildings that did some simple project that nobody ever thought would affect the elevators, but it turned out otherwise. That happened at one very large co-op in the Bronx that had a cable provider come in to do a routine wire installation throughout the hallways to bring service into each of the apartments. Once the installation began, some of the car doors and hallway doors started having problems closing, which was creating shutdown situations. 

Trickle-down effect. It turned out that the installers, who were mounting metal raceways for the new cable along the top of the hallway walls, were shooting nails into the brick. But when they did that around the molding above the elevator doors, it blew out the back of the wall, which dislodged the concrete and caused particles and pieces of debris to fall inside the elevator shafts. They were working from the top down, so debris had fallen on top of elevator cabs. At other places it went right down into the pit and got lodged into some of the door saddles and the door rollers on the way down, which was creating the problems with the door closing. 

Clean-up job. So we had to go in, put up barricades, lower the equipment down and then remove everything. We also had to adjust the operating equipment, including the selector system, which sits on top of the cabs and provides the proper positioning so that they’re level with the floor when the doors open. We also had to change some of the guide rails, because if you get dirt and grit in them, it’s going to wear them out. And then we moved the cars up so we could access the pit and clear out the debris there. 

This co-op has 180 elevators, so the good news was that the problem was caught after it affected only the first five elevators. We spoke with the cable installer, who started attaching the raceways above the elevators using a special bonding agent that held them in place without having to shoot nails in. After that, there weren’t any problems.

The takeaway. Whenever you are doing work in the hallways, it’s probably best to make that one extra call to your elevator consultant or your elevator company and just bring them up to speed and make sure that everybody knows what’s going on before you start. That way you’re less likely to have problems coming out of the blue. In the case with the cable installation, I’ve been in the business 38 years and I’ve never seen something like that.

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