A functional elevator is important for any business or residential premises. Aside from providing access for people who struggle with stairways, they come in handy for transporting things to different levels.
However, elevator pits are prone to flooding in the same way that basements and cellars are. If an elevator pit floods, the damage will be much more costly than emptying a hole.
Elevator Pit Flooding
It’s easy to think of an elevator pit as just a hole in the ground, a place no one will ever see. It serves no purpose other than to hold the ground machinery of the elevator, and it is not a functional room for guests, tenants, or customers.
The truth is that flooded elevator pits are much more catastrophic than you’d think.
In simple cases, flooding in an elevator pit will cause the elevator to break down. Flooded machinery will disrupt its use, rusting and damaging pulleys and motors. This is an expensive and troublesome problem, leading to disruption for anyone using the building. That translates to unhappy customers and potentially a building closure.
Other severe issues may occur even if the flooding is not bad enough to cause immediate disruption. Over time, smaller floods will cause machinery to rust and break down, incurring further costs and multiple repairs to bring it back to working order.
Water left to go stagnant becomes a breeding ground for mold and mildew, which will damage the structural integrity of the building’s foundation. It can also cause severe health problems to anyone spending time in the building. In warmer climates, standing water offers a perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes and other insects that threaten health and safety.
The water can also mix with the oils, grime, and dust that has accumulated in the machinery over time. If this happens, the chemical content of the water will make it a grave health hazard that might require professional disposal under EPA regulations. Your best bet here would be to consult with a company specializing in Utah water damage restoration.
In short, allowing an elevator pit to flood is not a simple issue. It is something that needs to be considered by any building owner or manager as a potential danger.
Preventing Elevator Flooding
When it comes to potential maintenance hazards in a building, prevention is the best method for dealing with them. Fortunately, there are several ways to prepare an elevator pit to prevent water damage from occurring.
Make the Elevator Pit Waterproof
Elevator pits are constructed in two ways: Poured cement or brickwork. Poured cement pits are holes lined with concrete to create smooth walls, while brickwork pits are built like brick buildings. In both cases, cracks or gaps will occur over time, allowing water to seep into the building.
Lining the walls with a sheet or bentonite-based membrane will create a buffer between the exterior of the walls that will mitigate water seepage. When cracks or gaps appear at any point along the walls, an injection of urethane will plug them, allowing them to be refilled or patched with concrete.
Due to the space limitations placed on construction, it isn’t easy to provide enough working space for builders constructing elevators in most locations. However, it is worth examining the building space to see if there is room to install positive-side waterproofing during construction to provide better protection.
Install a Sump Pump
Sump pumps are machines specifically designed to draw water out of lower enclosed spaces such as basements or elevator pits. It is important to ensure all elevator pits have a sump pump installed in places prone to flooding. Even when the walls of the pit are designed to prevent water seepage, water will still find other ways in, and removing it before it can sit and stagnate is vital.
Sump pumps are programmed to drain water whenever it pools at the base of the elevator pit. A sump pump can break down easily if it is overworked and under-maintained. That’s why you should check them regularly for any signs of damage or wear and perform repairs when needed.
Regularly Check Adjoining Rooms and Hallways for Flooding
Water can make its way into an elevator pit through other sources than its walls. Water will seep through elevator doors in lobby areas or external entrances such as outdoor stairwells in buildings prone to flooding.
You can prevent flooding by regularly cleaning lobbies and elevator hallways of water build-up. Something as simple as water-absorbent mats at every doorway or an hourly mop-up of standing water by janitorial staff will help reduce the risk of standing water and damage.
If the elevator pit or machine room is located near external entrances to the basement, such as outdoor stairwells, water may find its way in during heavy weather. As Davis County flood clean up specialists, we see a lot of flooding after severe storms. Covering stairwells with awnings and walls will keep inclement weather from seeping in with other staff or goods deliveries.
Perform regular maintenance checks
While regular checks should be part of the routine for building maintenance, it pays to put aside more time for the elevator pit. Rather than only checking that all machinery is working, add a routine water damage check. Check all machinery, doorways, and walls for signs of water or dampness.
As mentioned before, cracks and splits will occur with time in the walls of an elevator pit, so you must repair them quickly before they can widen and allow water in. Patch up holes and gaps as soon as they appear, and wipe down all machinery of moisture to prevent rust or mold growth.
Along with regular checks, you should add inspections whenever your area experiences severe weather warnings. If you know something’s coming, you can block entrances to the elevator shaft to prevent rain or floodwaters from getting in. These safety measures only need to be in place for the duration of the storm or flood, but it pays to have an emergency flood prevention kit ready to deploy.
Allowing an elevator to fall out of commission is an expensive and problematic issue in any building. While many issues are only temporary and easy to fix, water damage can quickly turn into expensive and time-consuming repairs. As the person in charge, you can save your elevator from suffering a catastrophic breakdown and keep it running smoothly by putting together a few maintenance and emergency plans