How to Prepare Your Elevators for Winter

Protect your investment and keep your riders moving.

As the cold season draws in, you may be focused on making sure your building lobby stays warm and dry. But when was the last time you thought about doing the same for your elevators’ machine room? In this article we share our best tips for making your elevators run smoothly and safely during a cold snap, winter storm, or flash flood.

Even in the beginning of the winter, before the worst of the cold sets in, there are several actions you can take to minimize any disruption to your elevator traffic.


Keep an eye on the temperature


Your top priority should be to keep the machine room properly heated – minimally in the range of 50 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit – and to eliminate any leakage into the space of outside cold air. If your elevators run on a hydraulic system, it’s crucial to ensure that the temperature of the hydraulic oil does not drop to a point where it impacts system performance. In a worst-case scenario, cold temperatures can cause the hydraulic oil to congeal. Solidified oil can trigger anything from erratic leveling of the elevator car to a complete system failure. For peace of mind, some building managers choose to install a tank heater in the oil reservoir to maintain an oil temperature of 85-95 degrees, which is considered optimal for peak performance.

Another important check-point in cold conditions is to proactively ensure that the steel rails are properly lubricated, to prevent any squeaky noises and possible disruption of operation if a problem develops during peak usage periods.


Clear halls, floors, and doors


To avoid problems with elevator doors opening and closing, it’s a good idea to maintain a regular regimen for keeping both the car- and hall-side door tracks clear of debris all year round. The winter season, however, calls for increased vigilance since tracks can very quickly become clogged with packed snow, ice, salt, mud, and pine needles from holiday trees. Over and above professional maintenance, you may want to consider doing your own intermediate touch-ups such as thoroughly vacuuming out the door tracks, using paint brushes to help loosen and remove common track obstructions, and – for more stubborn obstructions – a stiff nylon brush.


Stay safe during winter floods


In milder weather conditions, winter storms can bring severe flooding – which in turn can cause major issues for your elevator traffic. Here’s what to consider when expecting the worst.


Prior to an anticipated storm


  • Check the condition of the pits to make sure that sump pumps are not clogged and permitting ice and snow to accumulate. Further, it is vital to never operate the pumps in the presence of such buildup as this can cause freezing of the trolleys and substantial damage to the travelling cables.
  • Check the function and charge of the battery backup to ensure the operation of emergency lowering during storm-related electrical outages
  • Barricade the motor room to prevent, as completely as possible, entry by a substantial volume of water
  • Close hoistway vents and openings to keep water out of the shaft


During flood conditions


  • Move the cars to the top floors, shut down the system and power, and ascertain that there are no remaining building occupants dependent on the elevators to evacuate.




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Liquid Intrusion Detection Solutions

Emergency Lowering Device.

A device that may be helpful to those with a hydraulic elevator is a battery-powered Emergency Lowering Device. When the power goes off, the ELD comes on. Immediately the functions of control and door operation are given their proper voltage by the use of a battery-operated transistorized power supply. The elevator then descends to the lowest landing and opens its doors to discharge passengers who might otherwise have been trapped. 

High Water Detection Switch.

This system can be installed to alert building personnel that water is accumulating in the pit. It satisfies FEMA and NFIP requirements by automatically moving an elevator and counterweight to a safe landing to prevent liquid from damaging elevator assets.

Liquid Intrusion Detection System.

Electrodyn’s Liquid Intrusion Detection system is a damage prevention system that offers intelligent management of elevators in the case of any liquid intrusion in the elevator pit. Its versatile design allows for installation on virtually any microprocessor or relay logic controller. The Liquid Intrusion Detection system goes beyond simple alerting because it takes preventative action to physically move an elevator if liquid is detected in the pit. It provides peace-of-mind for building and property managers that want to protect their elevator system investment.

In any case, be assured that Jersey Elevator will be available to answer service calls and emergencies in a prompt manner during any and all emergency situations–just like we always have.

FEMA Technical Bulletin –

Tank Heater Solutions

When your hydraulic elevator becomes sluggish in cold weather…


The likely culprit is that the hydraulic oil that operates your elevator is not being kept warm. This impacts performance and can result in costly elevator repairs.  When your elevators sit idle, the oil cools down and becomes thick and gummy. This causes rough starts, bumpy rides, leveling problems and extra strain on the equipment. Extra strain on equipment can very quickly turn into very costly repairs. You can either try to heat the whole machine room which can become costly or more simply heat the oil   A Tank Heater is an inexpensive pound of prevention.

Tank heaters are installed inside the oil tanks of hydraulic elevators. They very simply heat and thin the oil to prevent rough starts and variations in normally smooth operation. They keep the hydraulic oil in your elevator at a consistently warm temperature with a built-in, fixed thermostat to control the oil temperature so that it never falls below its optimal functioning level. If the thermostat of the oil dips down below a certain range, it closes and the tank heater begins to operate until it gets to its optimal temperature.

Tank heaters are another cost-effective way to avoid performance problems and future costly repairs. We have a variety of solutions that can be customized to your situation. Contact your representative or call us at 732-290-2991 to learn more.