Elevator Brake Code in NYC: Due Before 2027

Elevator Brake Code NYC

A simple guide to Elevator Rope Brake and Single Plunger Brake code.  Elevator Rope Grippers and Dual-Plunger Brakes explained.

Did you know the safest form of transportation is by the elevator? Most of us don’t think twice about it while on our way up or down to the next floor. As a manager or owner of a building in New York City, you know your elevators are required to pass an annual safety inspection. That is to guarantee your tenants are safe from harm or injury.

What you may not understand are the implications involved with the changes in the NYC elevator brake code and what that means for your building.  As a building owner preparing for the code deadline, you may have some questions:

– What type of elevators require an upgrade?

– What does elevator rope brake code in NYC say?

– What does the code mean?

– What do I need to comply with the new code?

– How much will this cost?

– Where do I get more information?


This guide will help answer all of these questions.  

Let’s get started. 

Elevator Dual-Plunger and Rope Brake

What Type of Elevators Require an Upgrade?

If an elevator uses a traction based system (hoist ropes) and it has a single plunger machine brake, the elevator will need to be upgraded by 2027.   What about your specific elevator? 

A popular elevator design uses steel ropes to raise and lower the car. This type of system is often called a “traction elevator.” The rope is looped around a grooved pulley called a “sheave” that grips it (traction), forcing it to move when the sheave rotates. The hoist ropes hold the car as it goes up and down.

Traction elevators are already equipped with an over-speed governor that triggers a safety mechanism when the car reaches a certain speed above normal operation.   This governor and safety system is explained best in this video. ​​

The above design is typically for stopping the elevator in the down direction.  There is a chance of falling upward, due to the counterweights that help the motor to lift and lower the car – which is heavier than an empty car.  If the car was not fully loaded, the counterweights could overcompensate in an emergency.

​An upward fall is quite dangerous, specifically if the car leaves the floor with the doors open.  This new code will help prevent unintended movement in the up direction.  Here’s a story of an upward elevator fall:

In the U.S., an average of 30 deaths happens each year as a result of elevator accidents, despite 18 billion safe passenger trips per year.

​These statistics are very low compared with other forms of passenger transportation. Elevators are designed with so many safety features, that a fall rarely occurs.  The amendments to the code have introduced changes that serve to improve the safety of the public further.

Terms Of The Elevator Rope Brake Code In NYC ​

The actual elevator rope brake (and single plunger brake) code is listed here:  

“ASME A17.3-2002, Appendix K, Chapter K3, Section 3.8.4.1 Single plunger brakes. (a) All existing traction elevators with single plunger brakes must comply with either of the following by January 1, 2027:

Alteration of single plunger assemblies to dual-plunger type, or

Compliance with Unintended Car Movement Protection as specified by Section 2.19.2 of ASME A17.1. “

Explanation Of The New Code ​

In essence, the code says that you have two options. The first is to switch over to a dual-plunger brake assembly if your elevator currently uses a single plunger assembly.

The second choice is installing a rope brake if your elevator does not have one.

Plunger Brake Assembly:
This is an electric, spring-loaded mechanism that is applied when unintended travel of the elevator car occurs. It can be a disc-style plate attached to the drive shaft of the pulley or a caliper-style brake that acts on a ring attached to the pulley. Older elevators typically have a single plunger brake, but must be modified to a system with a dual assembly, when this is determined to be the best route for compliance with the new code.

Rope Brake:
A rope brake, also known as an elevator rope gripper in NYC, is the alternative to a dual plunger brake. Like the plunger brake, it restricts over-speed of the ascending car and prevents unintended movement, up or down. It operates pneumatically, driven by compressed air. It is easy to install and can be retrofitted on existing cars without dismantling the elevator rope.

A “Rope Gripper” is Hollister Whitney’s brand of a rope brake.  They released the most comprehensive video on the rope brake product.  The video is a bit dated, but it’s still the best video available on this topic.  

Adherence To The Elevator Emergency Brake Code ​

The NYC Building Code (Appendix K3) was amended in December of 2013. By January 1st, 2027 your elevator brake systems must be upgraded to comply with the new code. Recently installed elevators should have already come equipped with the brake systems that meet code requirements.

​The issue typically applies to older buildings with their original elevators installed before the building code amendments. It is important to remember that if your elevator requires modifications, you will need an NYC permit to perform the upgrade. ​

The Cost Of Upgrading Your Elevator Brake System ​

The cost for a brake system modification varies, depending on the route taken to perform the modification – the dual plunger brake assembly or the rope gripper system.    Get in touch with ElevatorLab for more information on cost. 

Elevator Brakes 2027

More Information About The Elevator Brake Code in NYC ​

For safety reasons, and to protect your end-users, the building code is amended. It serves to protect the public and will benefit all of us in the long run.

We understand the sensitivity of this issue. While your elevator is being modified it will be out of operation and, in addition to total cost, this has a direct impact on your business.  As elevator consultants, ElevatorLab specializes in matching you with the best company to perform the necessary work. We assist you by organizing bids from contractors, negotiating the best price and reviewing the terms of your contract. Complying with the new building codes will be an expensive undertaking, which is why we recommend you plan for it in your maintenance budget as soon as possible.

We are highly knowledgeable in the elevator industry and can assist you with understanding the elevator rope brake code as it applies to your building.  As a resource with solutions and answers to your questions, feel free to contact us.  

To schedule a free consultation contact ElevatorLab today.  

What’s your experience with elevator codes in NYC?  Comment below. ​

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