How to Pick the Best Elevator Service Contract Type

How to Pick the Best Elevator Service Contract Type

Elevator maintenance contracts are complicated.  This guide will review types of elevator contracts and help you select the best for your building. Elevator service cost is an important factor to your final selection.  After you review the contract types and contract modifiers (in detail below), you can use our free calculator to help estimate total service cost in your building.  We recommend first reviewing the details in this article, then coming back to our calculator.  

ElevatorLab’s Free Maintenance Cost Calculator
Use our free calculator to estimate true service cost in your building. 
Get My Service Cost Now

With so many aspects to an elevator service contract, this guide is detailed.  Here’s a table of contents so you can quickly find the information you’re looking for.

Table of Contents 

Types of Elevator Maintenance Contracts 

  1. Full Service Contract
  2. Partial Service Contract
  3. Oil and Grease Contract

Elevator Maintenance Contract Modifiers

  • Tooling
  • Emergency Phone Communication
  • Annual Load Test – Category 1
  • Five Year Load Test – Category 5
  • Fire Service Operation Test
  • Emergency Power Test
  • 8 Hour Emergency Service Requests
  • ​24 Hour Emergency Service Requests
  • Remote Monitroing
  • Data and Records​

Why It’s Important to Understand Elevator Contract Types?

Just reading one elevator service contract can be intimidating, but when you start to compare one company’s contract to another  – that’s when it gets tricky.


Because the options for elevator coverage are unlimited, elevator service companies realize this and use it as a way to compete.   

What do I mean by that?

Let’s review an example:  Let’s say you have an existing elevator service contract with company X.  The contract with company X includes all elevator parts. Elevator service company Y gives you a call and offers a proposal for a lower price with all elevator parts included except for one.  They hide the excluded part deep in the contract, and you think it’s a better deal to hire company Y. You hire company Y, and that one part fails and ends up costing more than the difference in price from company X.   You lose more money than planned.

You probably think this example would never happen.  You read the fine print of every contract.

Ok, one more example: Let’s say company Y doesn’t specifically list that one excluded part in the agreement.  Instead, they have a list of included parts and a list of excluded parts – but there’s no mention of that one part.  They use broad language to exclude it without ever mentioning it.

That happens.  

Ok enough examples. You’re probably reading this article because a much worse situation has already happened to you.  

With a better understanding of contact types, and what to look for, you’ll be better off the next time you sign an elevator service agreement.   

Let’s review the different types of elevator contracts.

Types of Elevator Maintenance Contracts

Types of Elevator Maintenance Contracts

First, it’s important to understand that there’s no standard “type” of contract.  An elevator company can tell you they’re offering a specific “type” – but that specific type will vary from one company to the next (see example above).  We’ll review the “industry standard” types of contracts, but it’s important to remember that there are unlimited options for coverage on an agreement.

This guide will help you understand the industry “types,” but won’t help you avoid differences from one company offer to another.   You need to make sure each contract is reviewed in detail (or you can hire ElevatorLab to handle it for you).

Now let’s get into the three different types of contracts:

1. Full Service Contract

Parts Coverage:  All components are included.  Meaning the contract covers failed components that need to be repaired, adjusted, or replaced.  The flat fee your pay monthly acts as an insurance policy for each piece of equipment on the elevator.  You don’t pay for the cost of material or labor required for a repair.

Note:  Each elevator company will still exclude some items.  It’s important to review and compare the differences.

Preventive Maintenance:  This would include proactive preventive maintenance to examine, lubricate, adjust and document the condition of the equipment.  The documentation would help to monitor the expected cycle of components to repair them before failure. This should at least follow the manufacturer’s spec and elevator code minimum requirements.

2. Partial Service Contract

Parts Coverage:  All components are included except “major” components.  The definition of “major components” will vary from each company.   This means the contract covers failed components that need to be repaired, adjusted, or replaced only if they are non-major components.  You will be required to pay for both the material and labor to replace, adjust or repair the major components.

Preventive Maintenance:  The proactive preventative maintenance is usually still included for all components. The contract won’t cover the cost to replace or repair.  This may vary.

3. Oil and Grease Contract

Parts Coverage:  None. All repairs or replacements are excluded.  You pay the full cost for material and labor for all components.

Preventive Maintenance:  The proactive preventative maintenance is usually still included for all components. The contract won’t cover the cost to replace or repair. Typically, this type of contract has a limited amount of time on site.  

Elevator Maintenance Contract Modifiers

Elevator Maintenance Contract Modifiers

Now that we’ve reviewed the three different types of contracts, we need to consider modifications that each contract type could select as an option.  

We call these contract modifiers:

A. Tooling:  

Servicing different types of elevator controllers may require specific software.  These are usually laptops that connect to elevator controllers, often called “service tools”.  These tools can cost up to $15,000, and some companies will require you to purchase the tool. Or some companies may already have the tool.  Reviewing the total cost in your comparison is essential. ​

B. Emergency Phone Communication: 

I’ll breakdown the details of elevator communication code below, but in short – it is required.

An additional cost may be asked to include a 24/7 answering service for emergencies. Here’s the code:

  • ASME A17.1-2010 Section “A telephone connected to a central telephone exchange shall be installed in the car and an emergency signaling device operable from inside the car and audible outside the hoistway shall be provided.
  • ASME “A two-way communications means between the car and a location staffed by authorized personnel shall be provided.”

C. Annual Load Test – Category 1:   

Each local jurisdiction will have different requirements, but the testing requirements can be included or excluded in the agreement.  A load test is required in most locations throughout the USA.

D. Five Year Load Test – Category 5:  

Similar to the Category 1 test (but more extensive) this can be selected as an option. ​

E. Fire Service Operation Test:   

A monthly test is required by code. Some buildings choose to perform the tests themselves – instead of paying a higher monthly fee to include the testing.  The code reads:

  • ASME Firefighters’ Emergency Operation. All elevators provided with firefighters’ emergency operation shall be subjected monthly to Phase I recall by use of the key switch, and a minimum of one-floor operation on Phase II, except in jurisdictions enforcing the NBCC. Deficiencies shall be corrected. A record of findings shall be available to elevator personnel and the authority having jurisdiction.

F. Emergency Power Test:

When power to the building fails, some elevators are required to have standby or emergency backup power.  This needs to be tested according to the elevator code. An elevator mechanic may be required to help the building perform the test.  In some jurisdictions, the emergency power test is part of the category 1 annual test.

  • ASME Standby or Emergency Power Operation.   Operation of elevators equipped with standby or emergency power shall be tested to determine conformance with the applicable requirements (Item Tests shall be performed with no load in the car.​

G. 8 Hour Emergency Service Requests:   

An elevator will inevitably shut down. A big part of your maintenance contract is having a mechanic available to restore elevator service right when you need it.  You can pay each time the mechanic comes for un-expected elevator service, or you can select to have the mechanic’s emergency visits included in the monthly fee. The option for coverage starts at 8-hour coverage – or coverage during regular business hours. 

H. 24 Hour Emergency Service Requests:  

The premium model of callback coverage is the 24/7 option.  You do not pay for emergency elevator service on regular time (straight time) or overtime. ​

I. Remote Monitoring:  

Some elevator companies offer means to connect elevators to the internet, which provides visibility over the equipment remotely.  This can be an added option.

J. Data and Records:  

Part of elevator code requires maintenance logs (see below), so this should always be included.  Some companies offer an additional benefit of organizing data to monitor trends, pinpoint issues, and receive live notifications and updates of work .  Sometimes there’s an additional charge for this service. 


Having a broad understanding of “industry-standard” types of elevator service contracts will help prepare you for your next agreement. Knowing that each company will approach the above contract types with their variation will help you identify the small (and sometimes costly) differences.  

This guide only covers the scope of services in an elevator agreement.  It does not include other costly items – like performance requirements or cancellation language.  

For additional help, please get in touch.  We’re happy to help with any elevator question. 

Share on linkedin
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Close Menu