Skip to content

Vertical Transportation eXcellence

Elevator and Escalator Consultants

Code Corner

Code Corner 2007.2

Code Corner by Patrick J. WelchWhen is an elevator repair a modernization?

This is a common question for many of our clients with existing elevators. Often, it is a simple task to determine if an elevator needs a repair versus a more dramatic modernization and upgrade. However, the impact of an elevator modernization as defined by ASME A17.1 can have a ripple effect on other components of the elevator system. Those changes can also have an effect on the building systems (i.e. electrical, HVAC, etc.).

It is important to understand how ASME defines different issues related to elevator work. The first thing to understand is that there is no definition of an elevator "modernization." ASME refers readers to:

Alteration: any change to equipment, including its parts, components, and/or subsystems, other than maintenance, repair, or replacement.

This of course, requires a clear understanding of: maintenance, repair, and replacement!

Maintenance: a process of routine examination, lubrication, cleaning, and adjustment of parts, components, and/or subsystems for the purpose of ensuring performance in accordance with the applicable Code requirements.

Repair: reconditioning or renewal of parts, components, and/or subsystems necessary to keep equipment in compliance with applicable Code requirements.

Replacement: the substitution of a device or component and/or subsystems, in its entirety, with a unit that is basically the same as the original for the purpose of ensuring performance in accordance with applicable Code requirements.

Some easy examples:

  • Changing hoist cables is clearly a repair.
  • Examination, lubrication, cleaning, and adjustment of an elevator valve is a maintenance task.
  • Changing a door operator is a replacement.
  • Replacing a relay based controller and motor generator set with solid state controls and drives is an alteration.

It is the alteration that has the most significant aspect on the rest of the elevator and building systems. There are certainly gray areas that may be confusing. When confronted with this situation, it is our advice to speak to an expert familiar with both national and local codes.

This may be your elevator service company or a local elevator consultant. You may also look to your local jurisdiction for advice as well. You may well find that they have answered similar questions in the past and can be helpful in providing direction that will result in a smooth project!

If you still have a question, don't hesitate to send a request for interpretation to ASME. They are very diligent in responding to these requests.

If you have a question about a particular elevator or escalator situation, please feel free to write to me via email. While I am a member of several ASME A17.1 sub committees, my opinion cannot reflect the official position of ASME. VTX

We at VTX® deal with code issues on a regular basis. It is very likely that your question is not new to us, and we can help quickly. It is not uncommon for us to bring a request for interpretation for our clients before A17.1. Just remember that ASME wants the requirements to be clearly understood, so get it clarified, it could dramatically affect your project or operation!