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terminology and components

Types of elevators
Safety features Types of


An elevator (or lift) is a vertical transport vehicle that efficiently moves people or goods between floors of a building.

There are two types of Elevators: Hydraulic Rope-Geared

The hydraulic elevator consists of a cab attached to the top of a hydraulic jack similar to a jack used for a car lift in a service station. The hydraulic jack assembly normally extends below the lowest floor and is operated by a hydraulic pump and reservoir, both of which are usually located in a separate room adjacent to the elevator shaft, Hydraulic elevators are the type generally used in single-family residences

Found in two types: Plunger type and Roped hydraulic

Hydraulic - Plunger type

This type is the most common and consists of an elevator car mounted on top of a long hydraulic piston. The piston is generally not telescopic, so there must be a hole in the ground as long as the distance the elevator travels.

Hydraulic Roped hydraulic

. Otis Roped Hydraulic is a costeffective, environmentally safe elevator designed for customers seeking an alternative to traditional holed elevators. Its the right solution for hazard-sensitive and waterfront sites, and for existing building.

The Otis Roped Hydraulic has a plunger (A) located on each side of the car and a sheave (B) controlled by a set of plunger guides (C). Ropes (D) are fastened to the top of jack stands (E) and the bottom of the car frame. The system has an instantaneous safety (F) that is activated by a traction governor (G) and governor tension sheave (H).

Hydraulic Roped hydraulic


Two Disadvantages
Must Have Enough Room Energy Inefficient

These are the most popular types of elevators. Rather than being pushed from below, these types of elevators are moved using cables

Rails are used to guide the elevator Keep elevator and counterweights steady. Rope-geared elevators are much more efficient and safer.





Elevator car
The elevator car door travels through the hoistway with the car. A toe guard is present at the bottom of some cars. This guard protects the passengers from being exposed to the open hoistway under the car if the doors are opened when it is not at the landing. The guard is between 21 and 48 long.


Cross head


Safety plank


Elevator carcontd.
The elevator car door travels through the hoistway with the car. A toe guard is present at the bottom of some cars. This guard protects the passengers from being exposed to the open hoistway under the car if the doors are opened when it is not at the landing. The guard is between 21 and 48 long.


Complements of The American Society of Mechanical


The shaft that encompasses the elevator car.

Generally serving all floors of the building.


In high-rise buildings hoistways may be banked. With specific hoistways serving only the lower floors and others serving only middle or upper floors while traveling in a blind hoistway until reaching the floors that it serves. A blind hoistway has no doors on the floors that it does not serve.




Horizontal operating hoistway doors are generally hung from the top on rollers that run in a track, with the bottom of the door running in a slot.

Forcing these doors at the middle or at the bottom will cause damage to the doors and their mounting hardware. The doors can also be knocked out of their track and fall into the hoistway

The hoistway door locking mechanism provides a means to mechanically lock each hoistway door. They are also interconnected electrically to prevent operation of the elevator if any of the elevators hoistway doors are open.

Hoistway door interlock

Interlock for freight elevator


Carried on trucks and the squad, permit the unlocking of the hoistway door interlock.

The keyhole on the upper portion of a hoistway door that accepts a hoistway emergency door key and permits unlocking of the hoistway door locking mechanism.
These keyholes are usually located at the bottom and top floors, but may also be on other selected floors or all floors

Escutcheo n tube


Escutcheo n tube

Photo-electric and infrared sensors

A sensor between the hoistway and car doors that detects objects in their path and prevents the doors from closing. Photo-electric eyes were problematic and are being phased out.


Infra-red sensor

Roller guides
A set of three wheels that roll against the guide rails.

Usually mounted to the safety plank and crosshead. They keep the car in contact with the guide rails and prevent sway.


Roller guides on

Cross head


Roller guides on Safety plank


Emergency braking mechanism that stops the car by wedging into the guide rails when over speeding has occurred. It is activated by the speed governor sensing over speeding of the elevator car.




Safeti es Governor rope


Hoisting cables (or ropes)

Used on traction type elevators, usually attached to the crosshead and extending up into the machine room looping over the sheave on the motor and then down to the counter weights. Hoisting cable are generally 3 to 6 in number. They are steel with a hemp core to keep them pliable and lubricated.

Hoisting cables (or ropes)

These cables are usually 1/2or 5/8 in diameter. The 1/2cables have a breaking strength of 14,500lbs and the 5/8 23,000lbs each. However, at 900 degrees the wire steel rope contains only about 13% of its original tensile strength.


Nickel Babbitt


Hoisting cables

Wedge clamp



Guide rails
Tracks in the form of a T that run the length of the hoistway, that guide the elevator car. Usually mounted to the sides of the hoistway, at the middle of the elevator car.


Guide rail

Guide rail


Governor sheave
Provided to detect over speeding of the car. Usually a cable is attached to the safeties on the under side of the car, called the governor rope. This rope runs down through a pulley at the bottom of the shaft and back up to the machine room and around the governor sheave. When over-speeding is detected, the governor grips the cable which applies the safeties that wedge against the guide rails

Governor sheave


Governor rope


Governor rope


Car emergency exit

Usually located at the top of the elevator cars, sometimes on the side, other times not present. Top exits open from outside the car. Side exits are extremely dangerous to use and are no longer being installed. Existing side exits have been disabled by being permanently bolted shut.

Top emergency exit


Machine room For hydraulic plunger type

Usually located in the basement or first floor, but could be anywhere. Generally containing the electric motors, pumps, oil reservoirs, controllers and electrical disconnect to the elevators.



More ropes than needed Built-in brake systems Governor prevents the elevator from falling to the bottom of the shaft. Centrifugal force causes a brake system to activate. Also has an electromagnetic brake that is activated if the elevator loses power. Automated Brake System at the top and bottom of the shaft.

Safety features
Safeties a stopping mechanism for an over speeding car. Interlocks Cuts power to the car if this electrical/mechanical interconnection is broken. Emergency stop switch The red switch inside some cars that cuts off the power to the car except for the lights, alarm and communication system.

Safety features
Seismic switch - A motion sensing device on some elevators installations. If it is activated the elevator will move away from the counter weights to the next landing with its doors open and inoperable. This device overrides phase I and phase II operation unless phase II operation is already in effect.

Safety features
If this device has been activated it can mean that an unsafe structural condition exists.

This device is located in the machine room.



Safety features
Seismic valve for hydraulic elevators - A valve located in the pit close to the jack that is designed to hold pressure if the hydraulic line is broken due to seismic activity.


Seismic valve


Elevator emergencies
In many cases an elevator technician can correct a problem faster than we can initiate a rescue. Elevator technicians are on call 24hrs a day and can usually respond within an hour. When dispatched on a elevator emergency, verify that an elevator technician has been notified.

Types of emergencies
Person trapped in elevator car

The 3 most common reasons:

Power failure Malfunction of control components

Activation of safety equipment


- Power failure If its going to be short term, its best not to attempt a rescue. Explain the situation to the occupant. Calm and reassure them and let them know that they are not in danger and steps are being taken to remove them safely. If emergency power is available, it can be used.

- Power failure Some newer elevators will return to the lobby one at a time where the doors will open automatically.


- Malfunction of control components Shut off the power to the elevator in the machine room.

This will prevent any unexpected movement of the car when the power is restored.


- Activation of safety equipment. If one of the elevators safety devices has been activated, it is often indicating a serious malfunction in the hoistway or operating machinery.


- Activation of safety equipment. In this situation we should wait for an elevator technician. Leave the power on to the elevator. This will help the technician in determining the problem. However, if we have to perform a rescue, turn off the main power to the elevator in the machine room.